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Beforethe grading scheme varied between examination boards, but typically there were "pass" grades of 1 to 6 and "fail" grades of 7 to 9.
However the grades were not displayed on certificates. The CSE was graded on a numerical scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest, and 5 being the lowest passing grade. Below 5 there was a U ungraded grade. The highest grade, 1, was considered equivalent to an O-Level C grade or above, and achievement of this grade often indicated that the student could have taken an O-Level course in the subject to achieve a higher qualification.
As the two were independent qualifications with separate syllabi, a separate course of study would have to be taken to "convert" a CSE to an O-Level in order to progress to A-Level.
Introduction of the GCSE[ edit ] GCSEs were introduced in  to establish a national qualification for those who decided to leave school at 16, without pursuing further academic study towards qualifications such as A-Levels or university degrees.
They replaced the former CSE and O-Level qualifications, uniting the two qualifications to allow access to the full range of grades for more students. However the exam papers sometimes had a choice of questions designed for the more able and the less able candidates.
Changes since initial introduction[ edit ] Over time, the range of subjects offered, the format of the examinations, the regulations, the content, and the grading of GCSE examinations has altered considerably.
Numerous subjects have been added and changed, and various new subjects are offered in the modern languages, ancient languages, vocational fields, and expressive arts, as well as Citizenship courses.
This remained the highest grade available until From the first assessment series incontrolled assessment replaced coursework in various subjects, requiring more rigorous exam-like conditions for much of the non-examination assessed work, and reducing the opportunity for outside help in coursework.
These were a precursor to the later reforms. The new qualifications are designed such that most exams will be taken at the end of a full 2-year course, with no interim modular assessment, coursework, or controlled assessment, except where necessary such as in the arts. Some subjects will retain coursework on a non-assessed basis, with the completion of certain experiments in science subjects being assumed in examinations, and teacher reporting of spoken language participation for English GCSEs as a separate report.
Other changes include the move to a numerical grading system, to differentiate the new qualifications from the old-style letter-graded GCSEs, publication of core content requirements for all subjects, and an increase in longer, essay-style questions to challenge students more.
Alongside this, a variety of low-uptake qualifications and qualifications with significant overlap will cease, with their content being removed from the GCSE options, or incorporated into similar qualifications. GCSE examinations in English and mathematics were reformed with the syllabus publications, with these first examinations taking places in The remainder were reformed with the and syllabus publications, leading to first awards in andrespectively.
Qualifications that are not reformed will cease to be available in England. The science reforms, in particular, mean that single-award "science" and "additional science" options are no longer available, being replaced with a double award "combined science" option graded on the scale to and equivalent to 2 GCSEs.
Alternatively, students can take separate qualifications in chemistry, biology, and physics. Other removed qualifications include a variety of design technology subjects, which are reformed into a single "design and technology" subject with multiple options, and various catering and nutrition qualifications, which are folded into "food technology".
Finally, several "umbrella" GCSEs such as "humanities", "performing arts", and "expressive arts" are dissolved, with those wishing to study those subjects needing to take separate qualifications in the incorporated subjects.
However, due to legislative requirements for comparability between GCSEs in the three countries, and allowances for certain subjects and qualifications to be available in Wales and Northern Ireland, some qualifications will be available, and the other changes are mostly adopted in these countries as well.
GCSEs in Northern Ireland remain modular and science practicals can count towards the overall grade outcome. Examination boards[ edit ] Historically, there were a variety of regional examination boards, or awarding organisations AOswho set examinations in their area.
Over time, as deregulation allowed schools to choose which boards to use, mergers and closures led to only 5 examination boards remaining today. CCEA qualifications are not available in England.
However, some qualifications from the English boards are available as designated qualifications in some circumstances, due to not being available from WJEC. Most qualifications from the English boards are also available, with the exception of English language and the sciences, due to requirements for speaking and practical assessment, respectively.
The exact qualifications taken by students vary from school to school and student to student, but schools are encouraged to offer at least one pathway that leads to qualification for the English Baccalaureaterequiring GCSEs in English language, English literature, mathematics, 2 science GCSEs, a modern or ancient language, and either history or geography.
Subjects[ edit ] The list of currently available GCSE subjects is much shorter than before the reforms, as the new qualifications in England all have core requirements set by the regulator, Ofqual, for each subject.
In addition, there are several subjects where only one board offers qualifications, including some that are only available in one country of the UK for that reason. The following lists are sourced from the exam board websites.
The Baccalaureate itself does not garner a certificate for students.
Other subjects, especially religious studies, computer science, or physical education, may be compulsory in some schools as these subjects form part of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4.Ocr critical thinking specification january mark scheme; Ocr critical thinking specification january mark scheme.
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