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New GCSE grades

Most of my students use Edexcel and so at present that's the new specification I have looked at most.

From September 2016, there have been 4 GCSE qualifications in science that students can take: 

GCSE (9-1) Biology, GCSE (9–1) Chemistry , GCSE (9-1) Physics

or GCSE (9-1) Combined Science (Double Award)

Ofqual say that it is expected that all students will either study the three separate sciences or will take Combined Science Double award.

As with all GCSEs now there is now a new 9–1 grading system, replacing A*–G:

- Foundation tier will cover grades 1–5 - Higher tier will cover grades 4-9.

Students Will receive two grades, usually the same for their Combined Science result, e.g. 5,5 or 8,8. Ofqual say that sometimes but rarely two different numbers will be awarded where the result is close between two grades. I take this to mean that 5,6 or 8,7 is possible but 3,6 would not be.

There are no practical assessments in any of the new qualifications. 

Mathematics has been 9-1 graded rather than A-G for a few years now and students and parents seem to understand this subject as the changes from the previous system are small.

Questions assessing students’ use of mathematical skills make up 15% of the assessments (but 20% of the marks?). There will also be some recall of equations required in physics.

Specifications include new content, in line with subject criteria outlined by Ofqual and some "old content" is no longer included.

 

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Exam results - and Covid

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the GTS students who succeeded in their public examinations in summer. It was a hard year to cope with for all of them and panic about the exams fiasco will live with them.

Whilst we like to take some of the credit (and blame) for the results the examination outcome this year was completely based on their school's teacher assessment, but that of course was based on the revision, preparation and dedication that the students put in throughout the year.

The big new factor in the examinations this year was of course the lack of actual exams. Many of our A level students had the horror of losing then getting then losing then getting their offered places for university. It worked out in the end but it was an anxious few weeks.

Even without the exams all felt that the tutorial sessions still helped; It helped raise their class performance but more importantly the skills and habits we develop together will have long lasting impacts on future exams and careers.

Next year's students will have the benefit of at least seeing one whole new exam format paper to prepare with and we are sure that this typical "new exam" blip will reverse itself next year. See our front page article on Covid changes in how we work and our pricing.

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Preparing for public exams

November isn't June but I find it amazing that time at school between half term in October and Easter seems a matter of a few short weeks and not the months it looked at the beginning of the year. If you are lucky you are in Year 10 or Year 12 and are looking at a tutorial website as you are well prepared - but I suspect it is because the reality of upcoming exams has hit and you realise how important the next few months are.

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