Let’s talk about maths...

Today we had a meeting with a small group of mathematicians - bloggers, subject association representatives, teachers and others - all with an interest in the new GCSE.

We talked about the changes to GCSE maths this summer: more content, more demanding content, more emphasis on problem-solving and, of course, a new grade scale. Maths is still tiered, and we know that schools and colleges have been thinking carefully about their tier entry choices.  We also talked about the fact that some students are worrying about needing to achieve a grade 9 to do A level.  Given that fewer students will achieve grade 9 than currently achieve A*, which itself isn’t a requirement for A level, it’s important that students recognise that they should just focus on doing their very best this summer.

We talked about the predictions that exam boards will use to make sure that, this summer, roughly the same proportion of students will get a grade 4 and above as previously got a grade C and above. And when we say this, we’re talking about 16 year-old students.

We talked about some of the rules we put in place, for example the requirement for common questions on both tiers so that the exam boards can use statistical equating methods to make sure standards are in line across the tiers.

We also talked through the detail of how the exam boards will align standards between tiers. It’s called chained equi-percentile equating and, in a nutshell, it uses performance on the common questions to generate an ‘equated pair’ of marks at a particular grade - one on higher tier and the other on foundation tier - that represent the same standard on the different papers.

We had a really good meeting and got some useful feedback on things that it might be helpful for you to have more information and details about.  We have posted the slides used to introduce the topics we discussed today at the end of this blog. We will also be publishing more information about awarding in maths over the next few weeks, so do consider following us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and sign-up to our dedicated newsletter ‘9 to 1 news’.  In the meantime, if you do have questions, please just drop us a line at

Alison Tonkin
Senior Manager, Standards


Download the slides from the meeting:

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