New GCSE Maths (9-1) Grade Comparison.

February 14, 2017 Kamal P

This article compares the old grading system with the new one (effective from May 2017).

New GCSE Maths (9-1) May 2017.Grading System.

So what’s the big deal? The New Grading System compares exactly as below:

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From the information available, this is what I expect for numbers of students attaining each grade – grades and boundaries specifically detailed by Ofqual Sept2014 are in red, others are ‘intelligent’ guesses from exam board presentations.

In a nutshell, the most significant changes are as below:

  • Some very important formulae from the formula booklet have been removed. This is a big change as the formula to solve quadratic equations is no more there. Forget about being able to use this accurately, students find this formula very difficult to remember in the first place. The other formula taken off is that of Trigonometry (Sine and Cosine rules for finding missing sides and angles in a non right angle triangle).

Whilst the Sine RULE is easy to implement it can be very difficult to remember the cosine rule for finding a side and an angle. It looks something like this:  a2 = b2 + c2 – 2bc cos A and the one for finding the angle which can be obtained by rearranging the above.

The list of formulae to remember now looks something like this:

Quadratic formula to solve for x.   x =– b ± √(b² – 4ac) /2a

Cosine rulea2 = b2 + c2 – 2bcCosA

Sine Rule: a /sin A = b / sin B = c / sin C

Area triangle = ½ a b sinC

  • Exams are Linear Format instead of Modules meaning there will be Three exam papers to sit at the end of year 11 only. One non-calculator paper and two Calculator papers. All the topics are now scattered across the board and anything could be asked in any of the papers. All exams are 1 hour 45 minutes each. Different exam boards i.e. Edexcel, AQA, OCR are irrelevant as GCSE Maths is a core subject hence the curriculum is broadly the same.
  • Key content New to the Foundation Tier: Using trigonometric ratios, Use of Standard Form, Vectors, Factorising quadratics, including the difference of two squares, Using y=mx+c
  • Key Content New to the Higher Tier: Equation of a circle (centre at the origin) – this may have already been in some specifications but wasn’t in all, Tangent to a circle, Using iteration to find approximate solutions to equations, Gradient at a point on a curve, Average and instantaneous rates of change, Areas under graphs, (some) Kinematics formulae.
  • Key Content New to BOTH the tiers: Knowing the exact values of sinθ, cosθ and tanθ for θ= 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 90°(not tan). Using inequality notation to specify error intervals, Using Venn diagrams, Working with percentages >100%, Frequency trees.
  • IGCSE Maths has retained some topics from As Maths and so has the standard GCSE Maths. To read more about the topics please click Here

Whilst I understand the above move is to make British high school qualification comparable at par with other countries like Finland, Sweden, Germany and especially the Asian counterparts i.e. Singapore, Hong Kong, China and India. If you find this update informative please take a moment to share it on facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms by clicking the share buttons on the left of this page.

I will be posting important updates regularly over here about my key findings. However, if you are enrolled into my tutoring program than you do not need to worry about any of the changes as I keep the students/parents aware of even the smallest changes and my tutorials include the latest syllabus, exam techniques and topics. If you have not registered for the Easter Revision course for May – June 2017 Exams then I highly recommend you to do so by contacting me asap.


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