To begin with, GCSE means General Certificate of Secondary Education. Most of the students in Wales, Northern Ireland and England take this exam after they are done with the compulsory school education. Coming to the main context, universities these days are setting new pass mark eligibility which is giving rise to a lot of confusion. At GCSE level, several universities have a minimum entry score of “C” grade. But now, GCSE is shifting the grade criteria to a numeric scale which is from 9 to 1. There is uncertainty over the issue since both 5 and 4 are stated as pass grades. This is where the entire confusion is arising among the students looking for university entrance.
The GCSE course generally takes 2 years and students can take the final examination when they are 16. The newly applied grades will come into play from 2017 summer. The revised GCSEs will be applicable for the present students of Standard 11.
The examination will be marked in a new way, with 1 as the lowest grade and 9 the highest. For the information, 9, 8 and 7 will be widely equivalent to that of an A or A* grade. 6, 5 and 4 are said to be the equivalent of B and C. 3 is going to be considered as an equivalent to grade D. Lastly, 2 and 1 will be equivalent to the grades E, F and G. According to Justine Greening, Education Secretary, 4 will be considered as standard pass and 5 will be considered as strong pass.
So basically, a 4-pointer is widely equivalent to grade C. But the universities are setting different equivalents for pass grades, leading to immense confusion among students and their parents. For instance, according to University College London, a C grade pass-out would mean a 5-pointer for them. In comparison, Manchester University has set a different pass grade which is 4.
Besides, there will be a new set of GCSEs which would include ancient history, psychology, media studies and information and communications technology. These subjects are going to be taught from the month of September 2017, with exams to be held in the year 2019.
It is to be mentioned here that the Standard 11 students of the present year will be receiving their Math and English results under a revised grading system of 1-9. The 10th standard students of the current year will be taking most of their examinations under the newly revised scheme. However, the new subjects might come under the old scheme if the students are taking these up. It is to be further noted that the students currently in Standard 9 will also be totally shifted over to the new examinations system.
The newly introduced GCSE is a part of the newly launched curriculum in the schools of England. This was introduced by Michael Gov (the then Secretary of Education) in 2014. According to University College London, applicants for all subjects are expected to have a grade C at English and Math. But universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds have stated grade 4 as the required score.
In contrast, universities having their own examination system and interview process such as Cambridge and Oxford don’t have any minimum criteria for the General Certificate of Secondary Education.
All this is leading to immense confusion among the students. However, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) spokesman from the Department of Education asserted that the change in grade format was a part of their initiative to continue with the advanced standards. They have produced a broad range of resources to come up with a through explanation of the newly introduced system.
But reportedly, these changes are occurring only in England. Northern Ireland and Wales are not considering this newly introduced format of GCSE grade. Well, it is to be seen whether Wales and Northern Ireland consider introducing such similar formats in the near future. According to Ofqual’s spokesman, it was up to the universities to set the rules for admission.
Different explanations coming from different universities might make things confusing, but it is likely that in due course of time everything will be sorted out accordingly, and this entire confusion over the GCSE grade format will be cleared.
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