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New GCSE levels - what should a top student be aiming for?

(58 Posts)
RhodaBull Fri 15-Apr-16 16:51:27

Under old (current) system, the benchmark was at least 6A*s for Oxford for humanities, rising to ten or more for Medicine (extenuating circumstances excepted).

But now how is a pupil to know what is good or not? Ten 9s? Five 9s? What if, say, Westminster pupils all get ten 9s but someone from a comprehensive gets 8s (when they would previously both have got all/mostly A*s)?

Is 9 even achievable? Obviously in Maths it is easily done for a very able person, but what about English/History? How is one to know if a 7 is decent or a disaster?


BackforGood Fri 15-Apr-16 17:02:28

Surely you just aim to do your best across the board ? confused

Until the first cohort actually get their marks, then no-one will have any benchmark to compare against. When the first cohort are applying to universities then the admissions people will be comparing like with like - everyone that year having taken under the new system.

NewLife4Me Fri 15-Apr-16 17:10:55

I don't understand why somebody from a comp would all of a sudden get an 8 or not reach the A* they would before.

Am I missing something vital her.
Surely a 9 is a 9 and an 8 is an 8 whatever school you go to.

MedSchoolRat Fri 15-Apr-16 17:12:31

What PP said.

7 on new GCSE will be very good, unless you think anything below A/A* is a disaster, too (shrug).

I work in a medical school. We usually keep it simple by focusing on just the 8 best GCSEs. People on TSR say they get into medical school with less than 8xA* at GCSE.

tiggytape Fri 15-Apr-16 17:12:54

Grade 9 is going to be reserved for the top of the current A* bracket (it will equate to roughly the top 3% of students entered nationally for the exam) so it is highly unlikely anybody will get 10 of them.

The new grade 7 will be pegged directly at the level of the current grade A but the content of the exams will be harder (so borderline A students may end up with a 6 not a 7)

The grade 5 will be deemed a good pass and will equate to the top of the current grade C (but again with exams being harder, those destined to get a C under the old system may not get one under the new system).

Nobody knows how it will actually pan out but if everything they've said so far is implemented exactly, top students are likely to achieve a mix of grade 7's - grade 9's (equivalent to all A and A* grades on harder exams) which is the one reason for these changes (to differentiate the high A* candidates from the lowest A grade ones by having more grades to cover that ability range)

NewLife4Me Fri 15-Apr-16 19:08:01

Stupid question but what will a B be?
I must admit it's a bit confusing now.
Why can't they just have had numbers instead of letters, so it equates easier

Muskey Fri 15-Apr-16 19:16:56

I have been reading many threads about the new GCSEs and the total lack of clarity on these is totally unreasonable. My dd is 12 so she has missed the new sats levels and hopefully the new GCSEs will have bedded in somewhat by the time she gets there. I do however really feel sorry for both dc and parents who have to deal with this. This is no way to treat dc who are stressed out enough as it is without the added stress of worrying what is a good mark.

VagueButlmportant Fri 15-Apr-16 21:57:59

I have a Y9 DD so she will be the first cohort to do all her GCSEs under the new system. She goes to a comp with just below the average 5 A*-C grades.

I had a chat to her maths teacher at the options evening last month. She told me that she has predicted 2 grade 9s for this year's Y10 but that they had a meeting with someone from an exam board recently and they were advising all non-selective comps not to predict grade 9 at all!

She was quite angry about it, and she's determined she has a couple of kids in the current Y10 and definitely one (not DD sadly!) in the current Y9 who she thinks should be able to get a 9.

I think it's going to be very difficult for kids at non-selective comps to achieve a 9. They will struggle to teach to that level when their focus will be bringing the rest of the class up to 6/7/8 etc.

Stickerrocks Fri 15-Apr-16 23:10:06

I work at post-grad level and find that a huge proportion of the students I work with have straight A/A*s for their GCSEs and similar grades for their A levels. A lot of them, sadly, come down with a bump when they realise that their "exceptional" grades are shared by another 39 students in the same room, some of whom are far brighter than them and able to cope with professional exams (without coursework or controlled assessments) more effectively.

There must be flaws in a system which awards up to 26% of the candidates an A/A*, as some GCSE papers did in 2015. The new grading system should differentiate between the top students much more effectively, with the scope to re-jig the bandings and add more levels as the system matures without having to simply pile more & more students into the A* grade each year.

I also reject the idea that a grade 9 will be the exclusive preserve of private and selective state schools. Comprehensive pupils also have the ability to cope with exams. My DD 's school is already talking about the extra classes they intend to run after school for the brightest kids to give them the opportunity to cover the material being pushed down from higher papers giving access to a grade 9.

If it becomes obvious that grade 8s & 9s are only being awarded to those receiving a selective education, there will be some parts of the country without a single grade 9 student. I don't believe that the system will be that flawed or that employers and universities will not find a way of recognising the privilege that a minority have been given. I will certainly be looking at where candidates received their school education as well as the grades they achieved.

daphnedill Fri 15-Apr-16 23:38:18

The exam boards have stated that the same percentage will get grades 8 and 9 as now get A*, which varies from one subject to another. It's true that only a very small percentage will achieve a grade 9. To be honest, I'm not convinced that pupils need to so finely graded at the age of 16. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced that GCSEs are needed at all in their current form, now that the school leaving age has effectively been raised to 18. My guess would be that the more selective universities will be looking for grades 7 and 8 across a range of subjects with a couple of grade 9s in the subject(s) prospective students want to study.

GetAHaircutCarl Sat 16-Apr-16 08:06:22

Many universities have not yet finalised their approach to the next cycle of admissions ( current year 11s with old grade GCSEs and a mish mash if AS).

Never mind the cycle with new grade GCSEs.

Academic decision making on such things is positively glacialgrin.

GetAHaircutCarl Sat 16-Apr-16 08:06:57

Sorry current year 12s

Stickerrocks Sat 16-Apr-16 08:18:02

I think the system landfill describes is spot on. I know it was 30 years ago, but 3As, 7Bs and 3Cs at O level gave me the choice of 5 top universities. It worked, as you could differentiate.

lborolass Sat 16-Apr-16 08:54:10

I may be being naive but don't you aim to do the best you can? Or do you mean that a student aims for a certain grade and doesn't do any extra to try and get a higher one?

Everyone is in the same boat, I'd tell my DCs to do their best. I know the system is new but it's the same for all the applicants and as stickerocks says above, the universites will be able to cope.

RhodaBull Sat 16-Apr-16 10:10:12

I got exactly the same grades as you, Stickerrocks - and I got a couple of 2EE offers from top universities! Ah, those were the days.

I know there is much wrong with system now - too many A*s, and this stupid leaping in the air business with a full house of A*s which leads anyone who got a B in Year 10 when they were 14 (that would be ds...) to take to their bed for a day convinced they've thrown their life away.

But I don't know how universities will select now if they've ten 9 grades from a pupil at public school vs ten 8s from a pupil at comp - and a good comp at that. And with no ASs as a guide either - it will be difficult. Of course there's no reason why any pupil anywhere can't do their best, but let's face facts - people wouldn't pay for private schools if the grades were meh.

titchy Sat 16-Apr-16 10:22:11

But I don't know how universities will select now if they've ten 9 grades from a pupil at public school vs ten 8s from a pupil at comp - and a good comp at that. And with no ASs as a guide either - it will be difficult

They'll do the same as now and 20 years ago - make offers based on predicted A level grades. Universities aren't really interested in GCSEs beyond passes in English and Maths and maybe a sift on best 8, but that's unusual.

lborolass Sat 16-Apr-16 11:30:57

I still don't fully understand the private v state and number of As question but if I was a university admissions person I would take the state school person simply for the reason you seem to be suggesting - the private school grades have been acheived by virtue of the parents income, the state school ones from hard work and intelligence

Have I understood you correctly?

littledrummergirl Sat 16-Apr-16 12:03:15

We live in an area with a few ss grammars. Dd passed the 11+ and qualified for grammar but didn't want to go. She preferred the non selective school she will be starting at in September.
One of the brightest dc I have met (not mine) goes to the same school, is in yr11 and is likely to get straight A*.
It is ludicrous to say these dc are not capable of top grades.

bebumba Sat 16-Apr-16 12:05:07

I hope the link works. The animation is quite useful for comparing grades.

RedHelenB Sat 16-Apr-16 13:37:27

I don't think the difference between 8 and 9 will be in what is taught but thenumber of careless mistakes in a subject like maths or science

Stickerrocks Sat 16-Apr-16 13:53:58

I had to get EE too! Glad I took that option as I met DH there on our first day (obviously with more than EE though).

MedSchoolRat Sat 16-Apr-16 16:08:45

how universities will select now if they've ten 9 grades from a pupil at public school vs ten 8s from a pupil at comp

the same as Unis do now (argh).
The university will have a GCSE entry requirement. Very unlikely any course will ever require minimum of 10x8 at GCSE or 9x9. They just won't. There aren't enough interested students who tick either box. The threshold tariff will be much lower even for competitive courses, eg 60 points for best 8 GCSE or summat like that.

Once the student is over that threshold, then what they got at GCSE won't be looked at again. The 10x8 & the 9x9 students will be on equal footing for the next stage of selection. When work experience, personal statement, interview scores, UKCAT etc. & most of all A-levels matter.

purplevase Sat 16-Apr-16 17:58:36

In 1988 I was the first cohort to do the old-style GCSE (ie pre A*s). I got 4 As 3 Bs and 1 C (and many years later an A*) and I was offered a place at Cambridge. So I suspect there will be no problem with getting decent uni offers on the basis of 6s 7s and 8s (and maybe the odd 9).

Balletgirlmum Sat 16-Apr-16 20:00:31

We have no idea what dd is predicted.

Under the old system she would have been an A/A* candidate for her stronger subjects & a B candidate for the weaker ones.

Now the teachers say she should get between 7-9 in them all. The sixth form she may apply to ask for B grades in any subjects they are doing at A level with st least 5 Bs & 3 Cs. Except we don't know whether a 7 or 6 will be the B equivalent & whether 5 or 4 will be the C

noblegiraffe Sun 17-Apr-16 00:00:12

A 7 will be an A equivalent and a 4 will be a C equivalent so that's what they will probably accept for the first year or so at least because otherwise numbers will plummet.

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