Here’s What You Need To Know About The CIE IGCSE 9-1 Grading System

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

As you’ll know from the many hours you’ve spent revising and going over GCSE past papers, a few years ago the grading system underwent a big reform, with marks moving from the old A*-G system to the new 9-1 system. However, not every exam board decided to make the change at the same time, and some exam boards have stuck with A*-G for the time being.

CIE now give schools the option to adopt the 9-1 grading format in lots of subjects, although schools are welcome to retain the old lettered system if they’d prefer. The change shouldn’t be any cause for confusion or concern though, and our guide will help you make sense of your grades, whatever format they come in.

How does A*-G translate into the 9-1 format?

You might think that A*-G grades translate directly into 9-1 grades, with an A* equivalent to a 9, an A equivalent to an 8, and so on. It’s not quite so simple though. The table below shows how the two sets compare to one another.

The ‘anchor points’ are where the traditional A, C and G grades correspond to the new system.  They act as benchmarks.  A* and 9 grades remain at the very top, but as you can see, numbers and letters don’t correspond quite so clearly after that. The new system gives examiners greater scope for differentiation among the highest achievers.

Who’s still using the A*-G system?

Every school that teaches CIE IGCSE courses can choose between moving to 9-1 or staying with A*-G for all their subjects. While CIE state that the majority of their schools have wanted to keep A*-G, in the UK, many are said to have made the switch to 9-1 in order to keep themselves in line with other boards and schools.

CIE report that demand for the 9-1 system in international schools has grown. There are no official published stats on the matter, but as other UK exam boards roll out the 9-1 grading system across all subjects, it seems likely that this will soon be the benchmark standard of measurement for UK qualifications.

Will my type of grade affect university applications? 

Thankfully the answer is simple: not at all. Many of the top universities have said explicitly stated that students graded with the A*-G system will be in no way disadvantaged, and that prospective students’ grades will be considered on the same footing, whether they’re A*-G or 9-1.

Where some UK universities required a minimum of a C grade in GCSE Maths and English Language, under the 9-1 setup, some will require a 5 grade, while others will require a 4.

So whether you’re reaching for a Level 9 or an A*, all you need to focus on is doing the best you can!

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