The new top level grade on GCSEs should represent exceptional achievement, according to England's exam regulator.
From 2017, a new system of marking is to be introduced that will see students graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest. However, Ofqual wants a smaller proportion of candidates to be awarded a grade 9 than currently get an A*.
The body also wants to see the introduction of a national reference test so that extra information about the performance of the year group is available.
These proposed changes are being put out for consultation and so a much clearer distinction could be provided between the very best pupils and those slightly below this level.
Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: "How standards are set and maintained, in effect where we set the bar and how we hold it steady, are extremely important issues.
"We want to hear from students, parents, employers, higher and further education school leaders and teachers about our proposals."
Ms Stacey added engagement is vital, as the new grading structure needs to be set up correctly so that it properly serves students in the future when they are applying for work or education opportunities.
Those in teaching jobs are clear on what they want out of the process - knowledge as to what will equate to the current grade C. Schools also want more information about how they are going to be held to account in the future.
Ofqual proposes to anchor the current grade C to the new grade 4.
In last year's GCSEs, around 6.8 per cent of pupils achieved an A*, but Ofqual wants the grade 9 to only be given out to the top three per cent in recognition of the hard work required to reach this standard.
The consultation runs until June 30th and the proposals will be discussed throughout May and June, as well as other aspects of qualifications reform.
Posted by Tim Colman