Grade boundaries and the Uniform Mark Scale (UMS)

Grade boundaries show the minimum number of marks you need for each grade. They can’t be set before the exams take place.

They are published on results day on our raw marks grade boundaries page.

Once all exam papers have been marked grade boundaries are set by senior examiners and assessment experts. It’s not until after all the marking has been completed that it’s possible to see how difficult students found the paper (for example, compared to previous years) and so take this into account when setting the boundaries. This means that a student who performed at a certain level should get the same grade regardless of which year they sat the exam.

Our video explains more about the marking and awarding process.

Linear qualifications

Uniform marks are not used for the new GCSEs, AS and A-levels (first teaching from 2015).

Component grade boundaries for linear qualifications

It can be useful to see how the overall subject grade was achieved. However, it’s important to note that the grade boundaries given for each component in linear qualifications are purely notional, and do not always add up to the equivalent subject grade.

Our Guide to notional component grade boundaries has more information on this.

Modular qualifications – UMS converter

For qualifications that use uniform marks we convert your raw exam mark to a UMS mark, which then determines your grade.

The UMS converter (grade boundary calculator) shows where your exam mark sits on the uniform mark scale.

For a detailed explanation of how the UMS works, see our UMS guide.

Or you can download PDF tables for all qualifications:

Also see our quick guide to A-level A* grades.