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What are GCSE grade boundaries?
GCSE grade boundaries are the confirmed minimum number of marks needed to obtain each grade.
The grade boundaries change each year depending on how that year performs collectively and the grade boundaries can vary with different exam boards.
The exam board will lower grade boundaries if the exam turns out to be particularly difficult. However, if the year does exceptionally well on an exam paper across the country then the grade boundaries will most likely be raised.
The system is fair as small variations from year to year will not impact students’ outcomes.
Edexcel maths grade boundaries: When will they be released?
The exam boards always wait until after the exam marking is complete before setting the exam boundaries.
There are several reasons for this, namely that certain factors need to be taken into account when deciding the grade boundaries, including:
- How difficult students will find an exam compared to previous years
- New styles of questions
- New qualifications available
- The test papers won’t necessarily give an accurate enough result
It’s impossible to predict accurately how the students will perform in their exams in advance, so schools are often warned not to reply on predictions or grade boundaries from the previous year to guess the exam grade boundaries. It is wise to assume movement of boundaries up or down.The Edexcel maths grade boundaries are normally published online on the days leading up to results day.
What is the GCSE numbered grading system and how does it relate to grade boundaries?
This new numbered grading system is being slowly rolled out to the other GCSE subjects.
The new grading system was introduced by former Education Secretary Michael Gove and was created to be a better measurement of ability and performance, plus more of a challenge with fewer students obtaining the highest grades. This linear system sees less reliance on coursework with more riding on exams. Students of all abilities take the same exam under the new system.
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) state that a grade 4 translates to a C grade, with a grade 7 equivalent to an A grade.
Last year Ofqual said that a grade 9 in maths could have been gained with 79%, while a grade 4 could be awarded with just 18%.
Edexcel maths grade boundaries & the numbered grading system
Edexcel set the key boundaries first (grades 1,4 and 7) and then work the other grades out arithmetically. The only exception is a grade 9 which is calculated separately.
Edexcel use national prediction matrices to estimate the proportion of students they expect to achieve each key grade – 7, 4 and 1.
The matrices ensure inter-exam board alignment and are:
- Established on an agreed reference year
- Created every year
- Influenced by prior attainment at KS2 and the GCSE results for the subject
Edexcel also take into account the difficulty of the exam and the overall performance of different groups, for example age groups.