Changes to GCSEs & A Levels

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GCSE and A level Reform

There are important changes happening to GCSE, AS and A levels. 

GCSE reforms 

GCSEs will become linear in design, with the modular design removed and assessments only taking place in the summer. The reform also proposes an end to tiering of GCSEs, unless it is the best assessment option for the subject. E.g. mathematics. The use of non-exam assessments will be used only where external exams cannot validly assess the skills and knowledge required. Also a change to how GCSE results are described, with a scale of 1 to 9 used instead of the current grading structure. 

New qualifications in English language, English literature, mathematics started being taught in September 2015 for first awarding in the summer 2017. The new qualifications will reflect the subject content and assessment objectives on which the Department for Education is consulting. The next set of new GCSEs will be ready for September 2016, these include Geography, History, French, German, Spanish, Art & Design, Music, PE, RS, Drama, Food Preparation & Nutrition and Computer Science.

A level reforms

The curriculum content requirements of current A levels are being reviewed (or has already been reviewed) by exam boards, using feedback from higher education and the views of teachers and learned societies, as a result of Government proposals. 

Exam boards offering A levels in England have already reviewed the content in English (language, literature, language and literature), physics, chemistry, biology, history, psychology, art and design, business, computer science, economics, and sociology. These subjects started to be taught in September 2015.

Ministers have also decided that A levels in England should be fully linear. This means that all assessment will be undertaken at the end of the course, rather than at the end of each year of A level study as happens now. The reforms will also see the introduction of a standalone AS qualification that is “de-coupled” from an A level, so that results from the new AS will not contribute to the full A level qualification. 

At the same time, they are considering whether any changes will be needed to exams and other assessments as the exam boards come to design the qualifications in the new linear structure. 

A levels in other subjects will be revised in either September 2016 or September 2017 to a longer timescale to bring them into line with the new linear structure. 

Please click on the below download to view a timeline of the changes.


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