Background to new GCSEs

Government changes to the exam system and qualifications mean that only new qualifications accredited by the exams regulator Ofqual can be offered by awarding bodies in the future.

AQA's aim is to ensure that we continue to offer qualifications that meet the needs of teachers and students, as well as government and regulatory requirements.

We have already developed a number of qualifications for first teaching in September 2015. We want our new generation of GCSEs and A-levels to be the best they can be, so we have developed them in collaboration with teachers and other subject experts. They have also benefited from the latest research by the assessment experts at our Centre for Education Research and Practice (CERP).

We are applying the same approach to developing the next phase of qualifications for first teaching in September 2016 and September 2017.

We have decided that we won't develop new qualifications in some of the subjects we currently offer. There are a number of reasons for this, for example:

  • Ofqual and the Department for Education have decided some subjects can't continue as GCSEs or A-levels in the future - read Ofqual's decisions.
  • we have a better alternative qualification, for example our new vocational Tech-levels
  • entry levels are low or declining, indicating that a qualification no longer meets the needs of teachers and students
  • there are insufficient experienced examiners to set and mark papers.

Also, as an education charity, we have to make decisions about how we most effectively use our resources, for example balancing our desire to maintain a wide portfolio of subjects with investing in subjects that meet the needs of many students.

We realise that the schools and colleges whose students have taken these qualifications in the past will be disappointed and we have contacted them to provide as much notice as possible and suggest suitable alternatives. 

We will of course continue to support schools and colleges offering these qualifications while they are still available and details of the final exam and certification dates are on the relevant subject pages.

GCSEs we are planning to offer in the future

For first teaching September 2015 (already developed)

  • GCSE English Language
  • GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE Mathematics

For first teaching September 2016

  • GCSE Art and Design
  • GCSE Biology
  • GCSE Chemistry
  • GCSE Citizenship Studies
  • GCSE Computer Science
  • GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition
  • GCSE Dance
  • GCSE Drama
  • GCSE French
  • GCSE Geography
  • GCSE German
  • GCSE History
  • GCSE Music
  • GCSE Physical Education
  • GCSE Physics
  • GCSE Religious Studies
  • GCSE Science (Double Award)
  • GCSE Spanish

For first teaching September 2017

  • GCSE Bengali1
  • GCSE Business Studies
  • GCSE Chinese (Mandarin)1
  • GCSE Design and Technology
  • GCSE Economics
  • GCSE Engineering
  • GCSE Italian1
  • GCSE Media Studies1
  • GCSE Modern Hebrew1
  • GCSE Panjabi1
  • GCSE Polish1
  • GCSE Psychology1
  • GCSE Sociology1
  • GCSE Statistics1
  • GCSE Urdu1

GCSEs we are not planning to offer in the future

For details of last exam dates, please look on the relevant subject page.

  • GCSE Applied Business Studies (Double Award)
  • GCSE Classical Civilisation
  • GCSE Electronics
  • GCSE Law
  • GCSE Leisure and Tourism
  • GCSE Additional Applied Science
  • GCSE Application of Mathematics
  • GCSE Business and Communication Systems
  • GCSE Design and Technology: Short Course
  • GCSE Environmental Science
  • GCSE Expressive Arts
  • GCSE Further Additional Science
  • GCSE General Studies
  • GCSE Health and Social Care2
  • GCSE Home Economics: Child Development2
  • GCSE Home Economics: Food and Nutrition
  • GCSE Human Health and Physiology
  • GCSE Humanities
  • GCSE Methods in Mathematics
  • GCSE Performing Arts (incl. Double Award)
  • GCSE Information and Communication Technology3

Please note this list does not include ELCs and Level 1/2 Certificates. You can find a list of other qualifications outside of GCSEs and read about our plans for IGCSE-style qualifications.

The Department for Education has introduced Technical Awards for 14 to 16-year-olds at Key Stage 4. These are developed in partnership with employers to allow students to study real-life practical and technical skills. They're equivalent to a single GCSE, and count towards school performance tables. We're pleased to confirm that we will be developing a suite of nine Technical Awards ready for first teaching in 2017. If you'd like to get involved or be kept up-to-date with our developments, please sign-up here.


  • If the qualification you are looking for isn't here, please look on the relevant subject page.
  • For qualifications we are planning to develop for first teaching in 2017, the name of the current specification is listed. Changes to subject criteria may mean that qualification titles will change.
  • The availability of subjects within suites, such as GCSE Business Subjects and Economics, may change when the subject criteria are published.
  • Double awards and short courses may also no longer be available once new qualifications are developed.
  • 1 Ofqual has indicated that exam boards can start developing content requirements for these subjects. However, until draft content is submitted and Ofqual is certain its principles have been met, there is still a possibility that it may not allow new qualifications to be developed for these subjects. We will provide more information as soon as we can.
  • Ofqual has announced that it will not allow new qualifications to be developed for these subjects.
  • The Department for Education has announced that a new qualification will not be developed for this subject as it has not been possible to draft subject content in accordance with its guidance and Ofqual's principles reformed GCSEs.

As part of this process, we have also decided not to develop or continue with some A-levels, Level 1/2 Certificates (IGCSE-style qualifications) and other qualifications.

Availability of current GCSEs and A-levels 

You can read Ofqual's guidance online to see the timings for the withdrawal of outgoing GCSEs, AS and A-levels. Please note in some cases our qualification end dates may be earlier than what Ofqual have stated, please check the relevant subject pages for final dates. 

You might find it useful to read Ofqual's overview of Changes to GCSEs, AS and A-levels that will affect each current school year group.

Ofqual have now confirmed their decisions on final re-sit entries to outgoing GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

You can read the full consultation online which closes on 2 February 2016. The decision is expected to be made in April 2016 and we'll update our information when the decision has been made.

Assessment arrangements for new languages GCSEs

Ofqual announce the results of their consultation which starts taking effect from September 2016.

Ofqual have announced the outcome of their consultation into the assessment arrangements for new languages GCSEs.

In summary, for modern foreign languages:

  • the four skills of Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing will be equally weighted at 25%
  • reading, writing and listening will be externally assessed exams
  • speaking assessments will continue to contribute towards the overall student grade
  • speaking will be assessed by non-exam assessment and further details will be provided on this in due course
  • the specifications in French, German and Spanish will be tiered but the requirement to enter all skills at the same tier is new.

Tiering decisions for the small entry languages have yet to be agreed.

These changes take effect from first teaching:

  • September 2016: French, German and Spanish
  • September 2017: other languages

Confirmation of key features of GCSE English and Maths

Read the full Ofqual and DfE documents about new GCSEs online:

Ofqual's standards in new GCSEs consultation - AQA's view

AQA has submitted its response to Ofqual's consultation on standards in new GCSEs.