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GCSE pass rates fall following revamp of exam system

31/08/2017 Joanna

Results from the 2017 GCSE exam season have been published, showing that pass rates took a slight dip this year following a significant overhaul of the testing system.

The percentage of students achieving a standard pass in their exams across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year was 66.3 per cent, representing a slight fall of 0.6 percentage points compared to last year.

Students taking their GCSEs earlier this year were among the first to participate in a new-look system of examinations that emphasised performance in end-of-year tests over the previous modular coursework-based approach.

Pupils in England taking English language, English literature and maths courses are also the first to receive their grades on a new numerical scoring system from 1 to 9, replacing the old system of letter-based grades.

Across these three subjects, a total of 51,257 top grades of 9 were achieved, with entries in these reformed subjects all shown to have increased from last year. There have been record entries into geography GCSEs, while attainment in modern foreign languages - including French, German and Spanish - remained broadly stable.

Analysis from the Department for Education also indicated that more pupils seem to be taking their maths GCSEs at a time that is right for them, as early entries in maths fell by 64.6 per cent this year, while the number of entrants gaining a grade 9 came to 13.3 per cent - much higher than the 3.5 per cent overall average.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "The government's new gold-standard GCSEs in English and maths have been benchmarked against the best in the world, raising academic standards for pupils.

"These reforms represent another step in our drive to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace."

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