OCR Science Blog

Grading the new GCSEs (9-1) in Science

Posted by Dr Frances Wilson on 21-Jun-2018 15:13:06
Dr Frances Wilson

We thought we’d take the opportunity to bring together all of the key information about grading the new GCSE (9-1) Science qualifications to make sure you have all the information you need.

GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics will use the new 9 (highest) to 1 (lowest) grading

All these new GCSEs – including Combined Science - have foundation and higher tiered papers.

Grade 9 (highest grade) will be awarded using a formula in the first year, so that 20% of students who achieve a mark at grade 7 or above across all subjects will be awarded the grade 9. The ‘tailored approach’ is fairer to GCSE subjects, such as the separate sciences, which have more high ability students.
Science Grading
More information on the approach for grade 9 is available from the Ofqual website.

The bottom of grade 8 will be set on the mark halfway between the grade 7 and grade 9 boundaries. 

The bottom of grade 7 is aligned to the bottom of grade A. 

The bottom of grade 4 will be aligned to the bottom of grade C, approximately the same number of students who currently get a grade C or above will get a grade 4 or above. 

Grade 1 (lowest grade) will be aligned to the bottom of the current grade G, so that approximately the same number of students who currently get grade G or better will get a grade 1 or better.

Combined science

Combined Science is a double award GCSE which counts as two GCSEs. 

The grading scale is doubled, (there are double the marks) so students can achieve one of 17 grades: 9-9, 9-8, 8-8 through to 2-2, 2-1, and 1-1. A grade 7-7 will be aligned to an old grade A, and a grade 4-4 aligned to an old C, with 1-1 aligned to an old grade G. 

It’s worth noting these are grades in their own right – it’s not possible to achieve a combination of other grades such as 9-6 or 3-5.
JCQ the Joint Council for Qualifications which represents all the major exam boards has been working closely with Ofqual to make sure that the statistical predictions for the new double award Combined Science take into account the fact that students could previously take GCSE Science and/or GCSE Additional Science, but will now take the double award Combined Science GCSE.  


Higher tier separate science students will be able to get grades 9–4, with an allowed grade 3. For Combined Science higher tier, students will be able to get 9-9 to 4-4, with an allowed 4-3 grade. If a student just misses a grade 4 (or 4-4) by a few marks they will be awarded a grade 3 (or 4-3).

Foundation tier students will be able to get grades 5–1 (or 5-5 to 1-1 for Combined Science).

These are linear qualifications so students have to sit all foundation tier question papers or all higher tier question papers. There are questions however which are in both higher and foundation tiers. These are used to make sure that the overlapping grades are comparable.

Stay in touch

If you have a specific questions and would like to get in touch then email us via science@ocr.org.uk you can also follow us on @OCR_Science or submit your comments below.

Topics: Science

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