These interactive graphs show GCSE full course outcomes across all subjects for all students for the years 2008 to 2023 and for 16 year olds for the years 2013 to 2023.
Clicking on an individual grade or gender in the legend will make the line in the chart disappear or appear. For more explanation of these graphs, click on the Questions and Answers tab.
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1. What do the charts show?
The four charts show full course GCSE outcomes and the number of students taking GCSEs in England for summer exam series from 2008 to 2023. Details of the data shown in each chart are as follows:
- Chart 1: the percentage of students achieving each grade in GCSE in the subject selected (black lines)
- Chart 2: data used in chart 1 for female students (orange lines)
- Chart 3: data used in chart 1 for male students (green lines)
- Chart 4: the number of students taking GCSEs in the subject selected, overall and split by gender. These figures are rounded to the nearest 5.
GCSEs in England have been reformed, please see the timetable of reforms. Using the qualification status buttons, it is possible to view GCSE outcomes for pre-reform (referred to as ‘legacy’) qualifications, reformed qualifications, and legacy and reformed qualifications together. Legacy qualifications are graded from A* to G whereas reformed qualifications are graded from 9 to 1. The legacy and reformed view shows outcomes for the three pairs of grades which align on the two scales: A/7, C/4 and G/1.
For most subjects, there was no overlap in the availability of legacy and reformed qualifications. In these cases, the legacy and reformed view will show the percentage of students achieving grades A, C and G up to the final summer the legacy qualifications were awarded and then the percentage of students achieving grades 7, 4 and 1 from the first summer reformed qualifications in that subject were awarded onwards.
The exception to this is mathematics, English language and classical subjects. For mathematics and English language, resits of legacy qualifications were available in summer 2017 - the first summer the reformed qualifications in these subjects were awarded. Therefore, the legacy and reformed view for these subjects includes the combined outcomes of legacy and reformed qualifications for summer 2017.
The classical subjects grouping include a number of subjects which are being reformed at different times. Reformed Latin and classical Greek were first awarded in summer 2018, reformed ancient history and classical civilisation were first awarded in summer 2019, and reformed biblical Hebrew will be first awarded in summer 2020. Therefore, the combined outcomes of legacy and reformed qualifications are presented in the legacy and reformed view for classical subjects for summer 2018 onwards. As the ‘all subjects’ category contains a mix of legacy and reformed subjects the legacy and reformed view shows combined outcomes from summer 2017 onwards.
Aside from the current reform, there have been a number of changes over the time period shown which are likely to affect both outcomes and the number of candidates taking qualifications in the summer. These include a reduction in the number of exam series available throughout the academic year, changes to accountability measures, changes to the importance placed on taking certain subjects (eg the introduction of the English Baccalaureate) and changes to the structure of qualifications (eg shifts from modular to linear qualifications). It should also be noted that outcomes over time might vary more in subjects taken by very small numbers of candidates (since the candidature is likely to be less stable over time).
2. How were grades awarded in summer 2023?
The aim of awarding in summer 2023 was to return to pre-pandemic grading. As in any year, grade boundaries were set based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence. The return to pre-pandemic grading means that national results will be lower than summer 2022 and it will be most meaningful to compare this year’s results with 2019, the last year that summer exams were taken before the pandemic. Further information is available on the Ofqual website, in the Ofqual student guide 2023, and in our blog 10 things to know about GCSE, AS and A level grades.
In 2020 and 2021, when GCSE, AS and A level grades were determined by teachers, national outcomes were higher than prior to the pandemic. Outcomes were also higher than pre-pandemic in 2022 when grading was at a midway point between summer 2019 and summer 2021 (see also Q3. How were grades awarded in summer 2022, summer 2021 and summer 2020?).
3. How were grades awarded in summer 2022, summer 2021 and summer 2020?
Awarding in summer 2022 was at a midway point between summer 2019 and summer 2021. As in any year, grade boundaries were set based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Further information is available on the Ofqual website, in the student guide to exams and formal assessments in 2021 to 2022, and in our blog post from 2022.
Ahead of summer 2021, the government determined that many exams and assessments could not be held fairly as a result of the disruption students had faced due to the pandemic. Teachers were asked instead to submit grades to the exam boards, based on their assessment of what students have shown they know and can do, enabling progression to the next stage of education, training, or employment. The student guide to awarding in summer 2021 gives further information.
The summer 2020 exam series was cancelled due to the measures put in place in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Students were awarded either their centre assessment grade or the calculated grade, whichever was the higher. Further information about the alternative arrangements for awarding in summer 2020 is available on the Ofqual website.
4. Which subjects are included?
All GCSE subjects taken in England are included in the ‘All subjects’ grouping in the subject drop-down. The majority of GCSE subjects with high uptake are available to select individually in the subject drop-down.
5. How do the subject groupings work?
All of the subjects are grouped using the subject groupings established by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). Most groupings contain a single subject but some groupings contain multiple subjects. For example, ‘classical subjects’ includes Biblical Hebrew, ancient history, classical civilisation, classical Greek and Latin. Social science subjects includes law, psychology and sociology. Performing/expressive arts contained performing arts, expressive arts and dance until 2017; from 2018 this category only includes dance. Some subjects are not being reformed and the reasons for this are explained in this article on timings for the withdrawal of legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels. For these subjects only the legacy view is available under the qualification status options. Some subjects have been available for only a part of the time period displayed:
- citizenship studies, engineering, health and social care, hospitality, leisure and tourism and manufacturing were first awarded in summer 2011
- computing was first awarded in summer 2013
- additional science (further) was first awarded in summer 2015
- food preparation and nutrition and combined science were first awarded in summer 2018.
6. Which students are included?
In this publication we only present data for male and female students. We do not report outcomes for those who did not report their gender or who did not identify as male or female. This is because the number of individuals is too small and there would be a risk that individuals could be identified. Ofqual’s confidentiality and rounding policy provides further information on our data protection guidelines.
Data for the years 2008 to 2023 include all students in England taking full course GCSEs. Data for 16-year-old students in England (the age students are typically when taking GCSEs) is available by selecting ‘Aged 16’ in the age group drop-down. In these charts, the breakdown by age is only available for 2013 onwards as this was the first year the breakdown was published in this data.
7. What is the difference between the display of cumulative and non-cumulative percentages?
Non-cumulative percentages for each grade show the actual percentage of students achieving a particular grade (eg achieving a grade 4). Sometimes this is referred to as percentage of students ‘in grade’. In contrast, cumulative percentages are the percentage of students achieving that grade and all the grades above it (eg grade 4 and above - grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9).
For cumulative percentages, it is possible to view the data with the y-axis reversed as well (going from 100 to 0 instead of 0 to 100) by selecting ‘reversed’ from the y-axis layout options.
8. Why does data for some years appear to be missing?
For subjects which are not being reformed, data will be missing for the years after the last qualifications in the subject were awarded. For example, additional science was last awarded in summer 2017 so there is no data for this subject for summer 2018 (NB science and additional science have together been replaced by combined science - listed here under the ‘science: double award’ JCQ grouping). For subjects which have been reformed, the legacy view will show the outcomes of legacy qualifications up until the last summer they were awarded and the reformed view will show the outcomes of reformed qualifications from the first summer they were awarded. As mentioned in point 2 above, some subjects have not been available for the whole of the time period displayed.
9. What does the pop-up box show?
When you hover over a point on the chart, a pop-up box will appear. For the first three charts, the pop-up box provides information on the year, the grade and the percentage of students achieving that grade (or that grade and above if ‘cumulative percentages’ are selected) in the selected subject. For the fourth chart, the pop-up box provides information on the year, the gender of students and the number of students taking a GCSE in the selected subject.
10. Why are some line labels missing?
Some line labels appear to be missing where the data points on the chart overlap. You can see which grade or gender the line relates to by hovering over the line and the pop-up box will then appear which includes this information. The legend also identifies each line on the chart and clicking on an individual grade or gender in the legend will make the associated line in the chart disappear or appear.
11. Why is there a drop in the number of students taking English language in 2014 to 2016?
In 2014 to 2016, a large number of students were entered to level1/level 2 certificates in English language instead of GCSEs. Schools and colleges continued to enter students to these GCSE alternatives until summer 2017 when they no longer counted in performance tables.
12. Why does the percentage of students in each grade differ between legacy and reformed qualifications?
The new 9 to 1 grade scale and old A* to G scale link at 7 and A; 4 and C; and 1 and G. See the ‘Grading new GCSEs’ postcard for more information. In the new grading scale, the distribution of students has been split into more grades above grade 4 than above grade C on the legacy grading scale. That means that the percentage of students ‘in grade’, eg achieving a grade 7, is typically smaller than those having previously were ‘in grade’ for a grade A (though note, the cumulative proportion at grade 7 ie achieving 7 and above is typically similar to the proportion achieving grade A and above).
For similar reasons, because there are fewer grades below a 4 than there were below a C, there are typically larger percentages ‘in grade’ e.g. receiving a grade 1 than would have previously achieved a grade G.
13. Where does this data come from?
Ofqual receives this data from the JCQ, near to results day. This data is supplied by awarding organisations to the JCQ who usually publish it on results day. The data does not reflect any changes to grades from post-results reviews. This means that it is possible that the figures presented here may not be the same as those presented in the Department for Education’s statistical first release on GCSE and equivalent results.
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