From a report from the BBC on how GCSEs are set to change.
HOW THE GCSE EXAM HAS CHANGED
The biggest change is the ‘return to linear exams’ (source: BBC). This means that the modularised exams have been scrapped in favour of testing at the end of the two year course.
There are, of course, differing opinions on whether this is a beneficial move, but there does seem to be consensus that this change will make the exams more difficult.
Although modular exams have been removed, coursework is set to remain, although in a much more limited version.
CHANGES TO ENGLISH/ENGLISH LANGUAGE
The main change can be seen in the Speaking and Listening element of the course.
No longer will the results count towards the final grades for this subject. There has been criticism in the past about the way this part of the coursework was assessed by teachers, in the sense that there seemed to be a great degree of inconsistency in the marking. The changes mean that whilst students will still need to do the Speaking and Listening coursework, it will now not be included in the final result, but rather reported alongside it using grades 1 to 5.
The balance between controlled assessment and exam has also changed. Controlled Assessment is the element of the course where students produce graded work in a controlled class environment. It replaced coursework which students could complete outside of class. Changes mean that Controlled Assessment will now account for 40% of the final grade, where exam results will account for 60%.
CHANGES TO EARLY ENTRIES
It has been quite typical for students to be entered early for their exams, especially in English and Maths. Many schools used to enter their students for exams in Year 10 to allow them more than one attempt at the test, and also to allow more talented students to move on to A’level study should they do well. This worked well for the league table rankings of said schools.
Under the new changes, however, there has been a reported 40% drop in early entries because these ‘first attempt’ grades now count.
THE FUTURE OF GCSEs?
Officials in the UK’s qualifications watchdog, OFQUAL, are keeping their eyes on the changes to make sure that no student is left unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by the changes.
However, it is certain that future results are likely to look different from previous years. Exams might be more challenging.. But OFQUAL is keen to stress that, although there is likely to be a level of variability between schools, the overall standard of the exams has remained the same.