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.
The full range of GCSE grades A* – G spans Levels 1 and 2 of the Credit and Qualification Framework for Wales: Grades A* – C are Level 2; grades D – G are Level 1.
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.
Qualifications Wales approved GCSEs 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.
In GCSE Mathematics and GCSE Mathematics (numeracy), there are three tiers:
- Higher A* – C
- Intermediate B – E
- Foundation D – G
Five grades at A* – C, generally including English language and mathematics, is regarded as an appropriate benchmark for Level 3 study.
The National Welsh Baccalaureate will be taken by all students in state schools aged 14 – 16 from September 2016. It will include a Skills Challenge Certificate which is equivalent to a GCSE.
The vast majority of applicants from Wales will present with GCSEs graded A* – G. However, there will be a small number who present with some GCSEs graded 9 – 1.
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.
Further information can be found at Qualifications Wales website: