GCSE Combined Science: new grading system

New GCSEs are graded 9 to 1. From summer 2018, GCSE Combined Science students will receive a double grade on a 17-point scale, from 9-9 to 1-1.

This double award is worth two GCSEs, and is made up of two equal or adjacent grades. There are 17 possible grade combinations, for example, (9-9), (9-8), (8-8), (8-7) – through to (1-1).

Grade boundaries

The method used to set the grade 9-9 boundary for GCSE Combined Science is similar to the one used to set the grade 9 boundary for the first 9 to 1 GCSE results in 2017, but adapted for the double grade.

Generally, a student who would have got an average grade A across science and additional science in 2017 would get grade 7-7 in GCSE Combined Science in 2018.

For 2018 only Ofqual has agreed that all exam boards should award an allowed grade 3-3 in addition to the allowed ‘safety net’ grade 4-3 on the higher tier of GCSE Combined Science. Ofqual has also agreed that these allowed grades should be widened. This will mean that the distance between allowed grade 3-3 and grade 4-4 is the same as the distance between grade 4-4 and grade 5-5.  The grade 4-3 boundary will be set halfway between the 4-4 and 3-3 boundaries.

Ofqual has acknowledged that, with the structural changes to the sciences – including the removal of untiered controlled assessment, and moving to a double award GCSE, tiering decisions have been more complex this year. They’ve made this decision to make sure that any students who’ve been entered for the higher tier, but would’ve been better suited to the Foundation tier, are not disadvantaged. You can read more on Ofqual’s Blog.

For additional guidance, see our GCSE Combined Science grading scale factsheet >

Ofqual information on grading GCSE Combined Science