TEENS are celebrating across the UK after top grades INCREASED despite “tougher” new exams.
Pass rates rose this year in the wake of major reforms to the grading – as hundreds of thousands of students breathed a collective sigh of relief.
In schools across the country relieved sixteen-year-olds embraced after tearing open their envelopes and jumping for joy, while others fought back tears as months of stress finally drew to an end.
Others flooded Twitter with jokes and viral memes to cope with the strain of results day.
Teachers and pupils were forced to grapple with a whole new system after the traditional A*-G grades were scrapped and replaced with 9-1, 9 being the highest grade.
Fears that lower-performing students would lose out appear to have been quashed after the pass rate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose from last year, with 66.9pc awarded a 4 or C or more – up 0.5 percentage points from 2017.
Students also gained more top grades, with one in five GCSE entries (20.5pc) scoring at least a 7 under the new grading system – equivalent to an A or higher.
Dennis Williams, 65, was one of thousands of proud relatives to celebrate their family’s results after his granddaughter twins gained the equivalent of 16 A*s between them after sitting their exams at St Paul’s Academy in Abbey Wood, London.
Laschar and Shannia Williams, from Charlton in South East London, intend to study law and medicine at Oxbridge respectively – following in the footsteps of their mother, aunt and uncles who all defied the odds to go to university.
An emotional Dennis said of the smart 16-year-olds: “We are ecstatic, they have done very, very well.
“We are from an Afro Caribbean family and it is so good to see them do so well – it shows that even if you come from a disadvantaged background you can succeed.”
GCSE maths – would you pass? Take the test…
1. Which of these shapes has the most sides?
2. Nadia has £5 to buy pencils and rulers.
Pencils – 8p each
Rulers – 30p each
She says: ‘I will buy 15 pencils
‘Then I will buy as many rulers as possible.
‘With my change I will buy more pencils.’
How many pencils and how many rulers does she buy?
3. What is 3/2 as a decimal?
4. An exam has two papers.
Anil scores 33 out of 60 on paper 1 and 75 out of 100 on paper 2.
Work out his percentage score for the exam.
5. There are 720 boys and 700 girls in a school.
The probability that a boy chosen at random studies French is 2/3
The probability that a girl chosen at random studies French is 3/5
(a) Work out the number of students in the school who study French.
(b) Work out the probability that a student chosen at random from the whole school does not study French.
6. 3/5 of a number is 162.
Work out the number.
7. Solve the simultaneous equations.
2x + y = 18
x – y = 6
8. PRT and QRS are similar triangles.
(See diagram below – not drawn accurately).
Which of these is equivalent to QR/PR ?
9. To make one cheese sandwich, Gina uses one bread roll and two cheese slices.
– Pack of 15 bread rolls: £1.88
– Pack of 20 cheese slices: £2.15
– She is going to buy enough packs to have exactly twice as many cheese slices as bread rolls.
– Make more than 100 cheese sandwiches.
Work out the least amount she can spend.
10. See graph below.
The graph shows the depth of water in a harbour for 12 hours.
d is the depth of water in the harbour in metres
t is the number of hours after 9 am
(a) For how many of the 12 hours is the depth more than 5 metres?
(b) By how much does the depth change between 12 noon and 4pm?
2. 17 pencils, 12 rulers
4. 67.5 or 68
5. (a) 900 (b) 520/1420 or 26/71
7. x = 8 and y = 2
10. (a) 8 (b) 3 (or -3)
The questions are taken from the AQA GCSE Mathematics examinations papers for June 2017. The first five are taken from three Foundation papers, while the final five are taken from three Higher papers.
Cloud Nine – What the new system means
As well as their grades, students will be getting to grips with the new grading system for the first time.
The system, implemented by the Government, sees grades A* to G replaced with a numerical 9 to 1 system.
A 9 is the top grade and 1 is the lowest pass, with a fail still called a U.
The top two marks of A and A* are roughly equivalent to a grade of 7, 8 or 9.
The good pass marks of B and C have been replaced by grades 4, 5 and 6.
And at the lower end of the scale, the grades D, E, F and G will now be scored 1, 2 or 3.
Results also improved for pupils in Northern Ireland, where pupils sat exams under the old A*-G framework.
There the proportion of students awarded A*-C grades rose by 0.7pc to 81.1pc, while one in ten received the top A* grade.
A small proportion of 30,000 students in NI – around 2,900 – were awarded number grades instead due to changes by English exam boards.
While in Wales, the percentage of pupils achieving the key pass benchmark of five A* to Cs has fallen for a second year running to 61.6pc.
The new system was introduced in England to toughen up GCSEs and to allow more differentiation among the brightest candidates – with only 732 students achieving the clean-sweep of 9s in all their subjects.
These exams were piloted in Maths and English in 2017 before they were rolled out across 20 other subjects in English schools for the first time this year.
Today’s results showed that boys are closing the gaps, with 17.2pc scoring an A or a 7, up from 16.4pc last year, while girls’ results remained static at 23.7pc.
Meanwhile popular subjects are shown to include computing, with 11.8pc more entries this year.
Foreign languages were up 0.4pc this year and the most popular GCSE was the Science double award followed by Maths, English and English literature.
Science GCSE – would you pass?
Test yourself in GCSE science with these questions from this year’s OCR GCSE biology, physics and chemistry papers.
1. Which is a chemical defence of plants?
A Antimicrobial substances
B Cell walls
C Leaf cuticles
2. Which is the most effective treatment for HIV?
3. Why is the process of meiosis important in making gametes?
A The cells produced are diploid.
B The cells produced are genetically identical.
C The cells produced are much smaller in size.
D The cells produced have half the number of chromosomes.
4. What is a genome?
A A description of the number of chromosomes in an organism.
B All the proteins that one organism can produce.
C A store of seeds to preserve genetic variation.
D The entire genetic material of an organism.
5. Which statement is true for a reversible reaction when it is at dynamic equilibrium?
A The concentration of the products is increasing.
B The rate of the backward reaction is greater than the rate of the forward reaction.
C The rate of the forward reaction is equal to the rate of the backward reaction.
D The rate of the forward reaction is greater than the rate of the backward reaction.
6. Which one of the following is an advantage of phytoextraction?
A A high concentration of a metal can be obtained from a low grade ore.
B Bacteria are used to dissolve metals instead of chemical solutions.
C Better crops of plants are harvested.
D Phytoextraction is a quick process and is not affected by poor weather.
7. Group 1 elements get more reactive down the group.
Which statement explains why?
A The outer electron is closer to the nucleus and lost more easily.
B The outer electron is further from the nucleus and lost more easily.
C There is less shielding from the inner electrons.
D There is more attraction between the nucleus and the outer electron down the group.
8. An alpha particle collides with an atom to produce a positive ion.
What happens to the atom for it to become a positive ion?
A It loses an electron from inside the nucleus.
B It loses an electron from outside the nucleus.
C It loses a neutron from inside the nucleus.
D It loses a proton from outside the nucleus.
9. A car accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (miles per hour) in about nine seconds.
Use the relationship: 1 m/s = 2.24 mph
Estimate the acceleration for this car in m/s2.
A 1 m/s2
B 3 m/s2
C 7 m/s2
D 15 m/s2
10. Look at the diagram of white light as it passes through a prism.
(See diagram below)
A spectrum of colours is seen. It ranges from red to violet.
Why does the violet light refract more than the red light?
A Violet light changes frequency more than red light.
B Violet light has the largest change in speed.
C Violet light has the smallest change in speed.
D Violet light increases its speed in the glass prism.
1. A Antimicrobial substances
2. D Antivirals
3. D The cells produced have half the number of chromosomes.
4. D The entire genetic material of an organism.
5. C The rate of the forward reaction is equal to the rate of the backward reaction.
6. A A high concentration of a metal can be obtained from a low grade ore.
7. B The outer electron is further from the nucleus and lost more easily.
8. B It loses an electron from outside the nucleus.
9. B 3 m/s2
10. B Violet light has the largest change in speed.
Despite jubilation over the results, Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of The Association of School and College Leaders, fears the new ranking could have a “demoralising” effect.
He said: “Our concern is over those pupils at the other end of the scale who are taking exams which are harder than their predecessors and who have been told by the Government that a grade 4 is a ‘standard pass’ and a grade 5 is a ‘strong pass’.
“That is a very demoralising message to those who achieve grades 1, 2 and 3, and the new system does not work very well for them at all.
“These young people have completed demanding programmes of study and we need to find a better way to credit their achievements.”
Education secretary Damian Hinds has insisted that pupils taking the new more rigorous GCSE exams will not be at a “disadvantage”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: “This year’s results will be fair to the young people who worked hard for their exams.”
Changes – including some exams being favoured instead of coursework, plus a broader spread of topics on the curriculum – were aimed at bolstering the qualifications so the UK stands alongside top performing countries in the Far East.
School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “Congratulations to all the pupils getting their results today.
“All of their hard work, and that of their teachers, has paid off and I hope that this is the first step to a bright and successful future.
“Whatever they choose to do next, whether it is staying at school, going to college, or starting an apprenticeship, these qualifications will give them a solid base of knowledge and skills that they can build on.
“Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, education standards are rising in our schools and pupils have shown their abilities by achieving excellent results today, with so many pupils meeting and exceeding the standards we expect.”
What happens if I don’t get the grades I need for my college course?
According to The Student Room website, if you have not got the grades you need it is best to quickly contact the college or sixth form you applied to.
While some colleges have formal requirements they vehemently stick to, others have more informal requirements which means you will be allowed on to the course regardless.
However, if you do need to improve your grades to continue your education, you will be able to re-sit English Language and Maths GCSEs in November 2018.
For other subjects, the earliest re-sit opportunity is not until June 2019.
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Last year, when grades were awarded for the first time for new maths GCSE, students sitting the higher tier maths course – which is aimed at higher-achieving pupils – needed to score at least 18 per cent on average to secure a grade 4, while on average, 52 per cent was needed for a 7, and 79 per cent for a grade 9.
Sally Collier, Ofqual chief regulator, said: “Today’s results are the second set for reformed GCSEs and the majority of awards this summer are for new 9 to 1 qualifications. Many years in the making, these new GCSEs are more challenging and will better prepare students for further study or employment.
“Students picking up their results today can be confident they have achieved the grades their performance deserves.”
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