What used to be ABC is now 123456789, causing confusion among UK teens seeking admission into universities.
According to the BBC, the GCSE exams in England, which is sometimes used as a requirement to enter sixth-form and universities, now ranks ‘9’ as the highest grade with ‘1’ as the lowest. Students are now unsure what the grades ‘4’ and 5′, officially classed as pass grades, mean.
“It’s inconceivable that a simple task of deciding a pass has led to a ridiculous ‘standard pass’ and a ‘good pass’,” Deborah Streatfield, founder of careers advice charity My Big Career, said.
“Universities and employers need to decide whether a 4 or 5 is the benchmark.”
Streatfield is referring to the different interpretations arising out of the new number grades. Education Secretary Justine Greene had explained in March that a grade 4 is a “standard pass” and grade 5 would be a “strong pass”.
Universities have since changed their requirements from alphabets to numbers.
Manchester University now considers ‘4’ as the benchmark pass grade, while University College London requires it to be slightly higher at ‘5’. At King’s College London, a ‘5’ will be equivalent to a grade C.
But the situation gets trickier in schools like the London School of Economics (LSE). LSE had previously required all Bs to qualify, which, if translated according to the new system, would be a grade 6. However, its requirement is now stated to be a ‘5’ instead.
Adding to the confusion, universities may change their admission rules again after seeing the first wave of GCSE results under the new system this year, a spokesman for the exam regulator Ofqual said.
There is at least another year to go before how the new grades will pan out. GCSE candidates this year would not be applying this year as they have yet to complete their pre-university studies.
The government announced the new GCSE 9 to 1 grades in March in a bid to better represent a candidate’s capabilities.
“This new grading scale is intended to better recognise the achievements of high-attaining pupils and ensure parents have greater clarity over how their child performs in their exams,” said the letter from the Education Secretary to the Education Select Committee in late March.
The new grading system will start with students taking the English and Mathematics GCSE exams this year, with other subjects slowly phased into the new system in the next few years.
A Department for Education spokesman said an information pack for teachers, students, parents and employers have been sent to every school and college.
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