General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) graded A* – G. CCEA Northern Ireland accredited


GCSEs were introduced to mark student achievement at the end of compulsory education at age 16.

They are also used as an indicator of the most appropriate post-16 progression route for a student.

GCSEs are sometimes used as an entry requirement for post-16 study.


Single award and short-courses are graded A*, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

Double award qualifications are graded A*A*, A*A, AA, AB, BB, BC, CC, CD, DD, DE, EE, EF, FF, FG, GG.

Attainment that is insufficient to lead to the award of a certificate is reported as unclassified – U.


GCSEs which meet the Northern Ireland GCSE Qualifications Criteria and Design Principles may use question papers which are targeted at either a single tier covering grades A* – G or two tiers of grades A* – D and C – G. This varies from subject to subject.

Further information

Five grades at A* – C, generally including English language and mathematics, is regarded as an appropriate benchmark for Level 3 study.

The vast majority of applicants from Northern Ireland will present with GCSEs graded A* – G.

Universities and colleges with applicants across the UK that use GCSE grades in admissions will need to consider the differences between a 9 – 1 (9-point scale) and A* – G (8-point scale) model.

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