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GCSE grades not what you had hoped for?Help is at hand

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Catherine Sezen of the Association of Colleges and Tom Laws of the National Careers Service answer your questions
For anyone whose GCSE grades are a disappointment or a puzzle, we have experts on hand, ready to give advice. Whether you want to do A-levels, a more technically focused course at college or take an apprenticeship, good advice is a must. Tom Laws, a careers adviser with the National Careers Service, and Catherine Sezen, a senior curriculum expert at the Association of Colleges, are offering personalised advice on what to do if your grades are different to what you were expecting.
GCSE results rise despite tougher exams
How do the new 9-1 grades workYour questions answered
In English GCSE, my son achieved a 3 in literature and a 5 in language. Is this a pass? He needs a good pass in English to get his apprenticeship. So we are quite anxious. MatA 5 is a strong pass in the new grading and a 3 is roughly equivalent to an old-style D.
I would think that the 5 will be enough for him to get on to his apprenticeship, but it is always a good idea to check with the college or employer in case they have a different requirement. He has done well to get a 5 in English language. I hope he goes on to enjoy his apprenticeship. CatherineWell done to your son for his English Language grade! With an apprenticeship, the employer and training providers have final say with regards to what grades they are willing to accept, but you will find that many apprentices who may not have the GCSE pass grades needed are able to study for these alongside the apprenticeship course which mean they don't have to put their plans on hold to resit the GCSE course.I would recommend speaking directly with the employer and apprenticeship training provider to find out exactly what grades they will accept. If it turns out he will need to resit, I would recommend calling the Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900 to speak with one of our expert advisers about the available options. Tom
My daughter needed a grade 5 in maths which seems a standard requirement for sixth form and only got a 4. Is it likely they will still accept her given that she won't be doing maths in future? TimA grade 4 is equivalent to a grade C, but many school sixth forms and colleges may require students going on to A-levels to have achieved a grade 5 or above. Schools and colleges set their own entry requirements. I would suggest that you contact the school or college and ask them what opportunities there are for your daughter with the maths grade she has and her other exam grades. Your local college will have options available if the sixth form is not able to offer her a place. CatherineIt is completely up to the sixth form as to what grade boundaries they will accept but each sixth form can be flexible and it is certainly worth speaking with them directly to find out exactly what options are available to your daughter.Many sixth forms do accept students whose grades have perhaps not quite met the initial requirements, but if you need any advice about alternative options which could be available, you are more than welcome to get in touch with the Exam Results Helpline to discuss this in more detail.TomMy son has received his Spanish GCSE result. He sat the exam two years earlier as he can speak the language (He will start Y10 in September). He got an A* but I am confused as I thought the grade was going to be according to the new grade system 9-1. AlexisPlease send our congratulations to your son, an A* is a fantastic result! Spanish should be one of the courses which was included in the new marking system this year - however, as your son has taken the exam early, there may be some differences in the marking scheme. I would recommend speaking with your son's teachers to ensure the result is in the correct format; the schools should have an examinations officer. Tom Well done to your son. This is interesting. 9-1 GCSEs are mainly being taken in England. In Wales and Northern Ireland, GCSEs continue to be graded A* to G. Could this be the answer to your question? If not, I would suggest that you contact your son's school. Either way, this shouldn't take away from his fantastic achievement at 14! Catherine
My son is receiving his results and I would like to know whether there is an alternative route to get a degree without doing A-levels. Can you advise? DipeshHi Dipesh, A-levels are only one route to a degree and a career. Your son could also take a technical or vocational qualification, which could lead either to a degree or an apprenticeship or a higher level technical qualification. Your local further education college will be able to advise on the opportunities available which be best suited to your son's future plans. CatherineMany students are looking into the idea of apprenticeships as a real alternative to university. Apprenticeship are available at degree level in a wide variety of subjects and allow an apprenticeship to gain work experience within their preferred industry alongside their training, with the added benefit of gaining a wage for the work they do!For more information, check out the apprenticeships information on the gov.uk website or give the Exam Results Helpline a call on 0800 100 900 to talk about apprenticeship options in more detail!TomMy daughter has just collected her results. She got 7s, 6s and a 5. To translate these to myself, family and friends I have calculated that the 7s equal an A, the 6s a high B and the 5 a low B or high C. Is that right? SharonCongratulations to your daughter, those are some brilliant results!You're pretty much spot on with your translations. It can be a little confusing at first but I agree with your conclusions. Look at this link for more detail.TomHi Sharon, these are very good grades. I am sure your daughter is celebrating. You are quite right with your translation from old to new. Your daughter has done really well.CatherineWhy did they change the grades from letters to numbers? DojjGCSEs have been reformed. For example, they are no longer modular and all exams are taken at the end of year 11. As a part of this reform process the grading system was changed. There are more grades now, nine rather than the previous eight. The aim is that the new grading structure will allow greater differentiation between students at the higher levels and will help distinguish these new GCSEs from the A*- G versions. CatherineIn the older system, there were four grade boundaries available above a pass grade (A*, A, B and C) while the numbered system splits these same grades into six different grades (4 through to 9). This can make it easier for colleges, universities, apprenticeship providers and employers to see where a student sits on the grading scale.Tom
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Our next chapter: GCSE results and beyond
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My son received a result of 65 in AQA's combined science trilogy GCSE. Do you know what grade this is please? Eamonn You can see the AQA grade boundaries here but it appears that a 64 on the higher science paper would give 3 grade in the new marking system.If this grade may affect the choices your son has after GCSEs, he (or you) are more than welcome to give the Exam Results Helpline a call on 0800 100 900 to discuss the options which could be available. TomMy son got a grade 4 in maths. His marks were 168/240. Is this close to a grade 5? JulianIf your son has completed foundation level maths, the grade boundary listed on the OCR mark scheme for a grade 5 appears to be 187. The boundary for a 4 is listed as 146 so it appears he has managed to achieve a strong level 4 grade. You can see OCR's grade boundaries on its website.. If you were considering a re-mark, I would recommend speaking with your son's school's examinations officer as they should be able to provide further details. Good luck! Tom
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