Secondary school

VAKS has your guide to changes made to the GCSEs from 2015

With the new GCSEs are on the horizon; VAKS has a guide to some of the changes.

All changes will be in stages, starting with those who turn 13 this academic year and current Year 9s due to take GCSE exams in 2017. English and maths will be the first subjects affected, with new courses in Language, Literature and maths starting from Autumn 2015.

Firstly, the tier system of Foundation and Higher will be removed. At the moment, students that are entered at Foundation level would sit a more basic exam paper but could only receive a C as the top grade, whilst those sitting a Higher paper could receive up to A*.

However, once these tiers are removed, there will be a clear change in the format and style of the questions that will be appear on each Language, Literature and maths paper; for example, there will be fewer ‘bite-sized’ questions and more essay-style questions. In addition, all pupils will also have to sit at least two science GCSEs as no single science option will be available after 2016.

This is especially significant as the new GCSEs will have exams as the sole assessment after two years, with coursework being scrapped for most subjects and content no longer divided into modules. The content will also edited to be more challenging, with more substantial texts in English literature and a number of new topics in maths.

There will also be a new grading system introduced, which will use the numbers 1 – 9 (9 being the highest and 4 being the equivalent of a middling to low C) instead of letters, however students unable to obtain the minimum required will still be given a U.

Whilst reaction to these changes has been understated so far, parents with children about to enter Year 10 can’t be blamed for suddenly feeling anxious as to how they can help their children with these new GCSEs.

“The important thing is educate yourself on what is expected,” says Jacqui Querns, the co-founder of VAKS, a Hertfordshire-based tuition company that boasts its own original GCSE programme. “Knowing your child’s exam board is the first step as well as looking at past papers to gain an idea of what they’ll be expected to do.”


  • New grade system with numbers instead of letters
  • No Higher or Foundation Tiers
  • Single Award Science will no longer be available
  • Different exam format – more essay questions

“Just remember that we’re all finding our way with this new system but for those of you who are worried – you can always seek help from companies like VAKS,” says Martina Barrett, VAKS co-founder. “Tuition is often seen as a reactive service but there is a lot to be said for future preparation. We’re here to act as an advisory service as well as to help work past issues so if you’re worried at all – please, call us!”

If you’re interested in how VAKS can help your child prepare for this change, their exams or if you would like to claim a free educational assessment, please contact us on or on 0808 404 8172


All information taken from:


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