Changes to GCSE and other exams

Girl sitting an exam

Many of the last students to study modular GCSE courses in England receive their results in August 2013 - from next summer all pupils will sit exams at the end of their two-year courses.

The switch away from coursework and class assessments, which contribute towards a pupil's final result, is part of the government's plan to revamp school exams. The table below summarises some of the key changes to GCSE exams.

GCSE changes in England*

Current GCSE Future GCSE

* Wales and Northern Ireland are keeping GCSES, but will not adopt the changes outlined above. Scotland has its own system.


Modular courses with coursework plus exams. Exams taken throughout the course as modules are completed. However, from Sep 2012, coursework and modules were reduced or reformed

Modular courses scrapped, new course content, reduced coursework (controlled assessment) but GCSE brand retained. Exams taken after two years rather than at the end of modules. More demanding essay-style questions

Exam board

Multiple exam boards

Multiple exam boards


Two-year course period; exams can be taken at the end of each module

Exams taken at the end of two-year period.


Changes will be applied to English and maths first, followed by sciences, history and geography - and then others will follow.


A* - G

Numbers 8 (top) to 1 (bottom). Pass mark to be pushed higher


As well as GCSE exams, the government is planning changes to AS- and A-levels in England. Teaching for those will start in September 2015.

Find out when all the proposed exam changes are happening from the timetable below.

Timetable of changes to GCSE, AS and A-levels in England*

Date GCSE AS and A-levels

Source - Ofqual.

* Wales has said it is keeping A-levels. Northern Ireland is reviewing its exams but said recently it would keep the modular structure of A-levels so that the AS-level will still count towards the final A-level grade. Exams will be summer-only. Scotland has its own system.

June 2013

Final summer modular exams for most

August 2013

Results of modular exams

September 2013

New English lit and history GCSE courses

November 2013

Final re-sits for modular exams in maths, English and English language.

June 2014

All GCSE exams to be sat in summer (none in Jan/March)

August 2014

First results for new linear (non-modular) GCSEs

September 2015

First teaching of new GCSEs in English language, lit and maths

First teaching of new stand alone AS qualification and linear A-levels in England (AS-level will no longer count towards final A-level grades)

June 2016

Final exams for current GCSEs in English language, lit and maths

Last modular AS- and A-levels. First new AS exam

September 2016

First teaching of other new GCSES - physics, biology, chemistry, combined science, history and geography

Other AS- and A-level subjects introduced

June 2017

First new GCSE exams taken in English language, lit and maths

First new A-level exams

More Education & Family stories



  • Baby being handed overFraught world

    The legal confusion over UK surrogate births

  • Bad resultsBlame game

    The best excuses to use when exam results don't make the grade

  • Welsh flagDragon's den

    Why Wales will make its own mind up on independence

  • Police respond to a shooting in Santa MonicaTrigger decision

    What really happens before a police officer fires his gun?

  • Child injured by what activists say were two air strikes in the north-eastern Damascus suburb of Douma (3 August 2014)'No-one cares'

    Hope fades for Syrians one year after chemical attack

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.