Today (12 January 2023) is results day for students who took GCSE English language and maths in England in the November series. GCSE English language and maths are available every November. Entry is restricted to students aged 16 and over. Most entries are from students seeking to improve their grade from the previous summer, or from students that had planned to enter in the summer but were unable to do so.
Ofqual previously announced that exam boards would seek to align November 2022 grading with the standard from summer 2022. This is the same approach that we took in November 2020 and 2021, when standards were aligned with the previous summer.
The adaptations that were available in summer 2022 to support students in light of the pandemic-related disruption students experienced (advance information and formulae and equation sheets in maths) were also available in the November series.
Overall results for the November series for GCSE English language and maths have been published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This includes a breakdown of results for each subject. Most students entering in November are re-sitting their exams, so the cohort of students is different to the summer. It is therefore not meaningful to make comparisons between the results in November and the summer.
It is also not possible to make meaningful comparisons between results this year and in previous November series, or between exam boards. The different assessment arrangements that have been in place over the past few years due to the pandemic mean that entries have fluctuated, and the cohorts of students are likely to be different. For example, final entries this November are around 5% lower than in November 2021.
Exam boards set grade boundaries for each of their specifications, and Ofqual monitors this process. As outlined above, the approach to grading this November was for exam boards to seek alignment with the standard in summer 2022. This is different to summer 2023 when the aim of grading will be to return to pre-pandemic standards, while providing students with some protection against any impact of COVID-19 disruption.
This means that it’s important not to make assumptions about the likely position of the grade boundaries in summer 2023 on the basis of those that are published by exam boards this November.