GCSE grades 2023: what AQA boundaries 1 to 9 mean on results day - numbers grading system explained

Students in England have started sitting their GCSE exams for 2023

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Beginning on 15 May, students across England have started sitting down to their GCSE exams, with the final exams set to take place on 27 June. Once time has run out and the pencils have been put down, students will have to wait until 17 August for their results.

A new grading system has also been introduced in recent years, replacing the old A to F marks with numerical values instead.

This is everything you need to know, including what the letter equivalent of the numerical grades would be.

What do the numerical grades mean?

The government changed the GCSE grading system ahead of the 2017 exams, changing it from the lettered grades such as A*, A and B, to the numerical system.

In the numerical system, 9 is the highest grade available and 1 is the lowest.

This is how the numerical grading system works out compared to the previous letter grading:

  • 9 = High A* grade
  • 8 = Lower A* or high A
  • 7 = Lower A grade
  • 6 = High B grade
  • 5 = Lower B or high C
  • 4 = Lower C grade
  • 3 = D or high E grade
  • 2 = Lower E or high F grade
  • 1 = Lower F or G grade
  • U remains the same

What is a pass?

The AQA explains that a 4 is considered a “standard pass” and that a 5 is a “strong pass”, and respectively work out to a high C and low B in the old grading system.

“Grade 4 remains the level that students must achieve without needing to resit English and Maths post-16,” the AQA says.

How can I appeal my grade?

While some students may be overjoyed by their GCSE results, it’s inevitable that others might be disappointed with what they have received.

If you think your grade is wrong, you should first speak to your school or college and request a centre review. This is an internal review by a school or college so they can check for any errors.

If a student still thinks their grade is incorrect after their school or college has checked it, they can ask their school or college to appeal to the exam board.

You should be aware that following your appeal, your grades could be changed to higher or lower than what you originally had.

The final route of appeal you can take is through Ofqual’s Exam Procedures Review Service (EPRS).

To apply to EPRS, you must email the public enquiries team at public.e[email protected] with the subject line “EPRS application”.

In your email, you must state:

  • The qualification you want Ofqual to look at (e.g A Level, GCSE etc)
  • The name and address of the school, college or other centre which decided your teacher assessed grades
  • The name of the exam board
  • The date of the letter from the exam board with your final appeal decision

From here, the EPRS will consider whether your case can be looked at - if not, you will be given advice for what you can do instead.

If EPRS does decide to look at your case, you will be sent a link to a form. You must fill out the form in its entirety, and you will need to explain what you think went wrong.

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