GCSE results are something that all employers are generally interested in when hiring someone. However many graduate employers are still confused by the new numerical grading system that was introduced in 2017. Research that was commissioned by Ofqual in 2018 found that more than one in five graduate employers wrongly believed that 1 was the top grade. This still causes confusion even at the graduate level.
The A* to G grading system has been replaced with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 being the highest grade. The new grading system has been implemented to better differentiate between students of different abilities. A grade 4 now represents a grade C and there are now more grades above a grade 4. This means there is a greater differentiation for the top levels. The qualifications are also more challenging to ensure students are better prepared for further education such as University or the world of work.
It is important to understand that the new grading system cannot be directly compared to the old grades. There are certain places in which they can be aligned which is shown in the table below.
GCSE Numerical Grading Structure
- A grade 9 is the highest grade available and will be awarded to fewer students than the previous grade of an A*.
- The bottom of a grade 7 is the equivalent to the bottom of the old grade A.
- The bottom of a grade 4 is the equivalent to the bottom of the old grade C.
- The bottom of a grade 1 is the equivalent to the bottom of the old grade G.
- Grades 4 and 5 equate to a pass mark. A grade 4 represents a standard pass and a grade 5 represents a strong pass.
- A grade U still represents an ungraded exam meaning sufficient marks were not achieved.
What Does This Mean as a Graduate Employer?
University grades are usually those that you’ll be the most interested in a graduate employer, but that isn’t to say that GCSE grades are not still something to consider. Graduate recruitment should not be based on degree grading but on experience and passion for a specific industry. Of course grading is still important when hiring a student or graduate for a placement or graduate job. Take a look at the benefit of graduates in your business and speak to us to find out more on how we can help from the recruitment process right down to student placements and graduate roles.
If your previous entry requirement was a grade C it is now reasonable to ask for at least a grade 4. Furthermore, Grades 7, 8 and 9 are all fantastic grades which correspond to the previous grades A* and A. A grade 9 will be awarded to students that have performed exceptionally and a grade 8 is positioned between an A* and an A.
Think you understand all of that? Well the grading system has been introduced since 2017 when it was first used to grade Maths, English Language and Literature. In 2018, a further 20 subjects were phased in and finally in 2019 a further 25. This means that since summer 2020, GCSE’s now all have the numerical grading system. This is summarised in the table below.
This raises the question whether in the short-term students should clarify what their grades mean to avoid confusion. As employers, if you are confused by what the numerical grades represent just ask the candidate to explain. Remember to be kind to graduates & don’t miss out on great candidates because you are unsure what their grades mean!