GCSE

Exam boards develop and award GCSEs. The content for these qualifications is prepared and published by the government.

Private tutoring can be invaluable at GCSE level, as students are increasingly feeling the pressure to achieve top grades in order to qualify to study their desired A- Level subjects. A number of universities now require maths, English and science GCSE, as a pre-requisite for university admission; so in many ways, success at GCSE is as important as it is at A-Level. It is crucial to start to prepare your child as soon as possible, allowing your child to soak up the knowledge and not feel rushed, stressed or under pressure.


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2016 is the last year on the old system. Students will now get grades by numbers, 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest. New specifications have been introduced and the challenge to attain the old grade C has become somewhat difficult or in other words it's getting more demanding.

Just to mention maths as an example,


Maths Old System Maths New system
Grade G-A*. A new grading structure is being introduced, from grade 1 to 9, to replace the familiar G to A* grading scale.
2 papers with total marks of 200. 3 papers with total marks of 240.
Total exam time is 3 hours 30 minutes. Total exam time is 4 hours 30 minutes.
Foundation paper grade G-C with 25% questions at Grade C.

Higher paper grade E- A* with 25% questions at Grade B- A*.
Foundation paper grade 1-5 with 50% grade 5 (old C grade) questions.

Higher paper grade 5- 9 with 50% questions at grade 7 & 9 (which are broadly aligned to grades A/A*).
Formula sheet provided therefore students had to remember less formulas in the examination. Students will be required to memorise formulae therefore fewer formulae will be provided in examinations.
The demand of the content is increasing too, with harder topics being introduced for both Foundation Tier and Higher Tier students.

Broadly speaking around 25% of the old higher content is now part of foundation paper and between 10% to 15% of A level material is now part of the higher paper.
The volume of subject content has increased consequently schools will need more time to teach the material.
There are fewer marks at the lower grades and more marks at the higher grades at both Foundation Tier and Higher Tier.
In the assessments, there is a greater emphasis on problem solving and mathematical reasoning, with more marks now being allocated to these higher-order skills.

The amount of work that is presented to GCSE students is substantial; therefore the key to success is:

  • developing weaknesses into strengths through diagnostic testing
  • personalised development plan for the students which maps the subject syllabus
  • exam preparation
  • organisation

Grade Up

At Grade Up, we help your child by integrating all of the above. Additionally, we focus on important revision strategies as well as providing exam materials and techniques, that will help them answer GCSE exam questions clearly and concisely.

GCSE grades are commonly requested by post-16 schools and colleges, further or higher education institutes such as Universities, apprenticeship providers as well as potential employers. These exams have a huge impact on the future of every child who takes GCSE exams and so it is absolutely important for students to achieve the best grades they possibly can.

GCSE’s are not just for 15-16 year old, but students in England are entitled to study English and Maths until they reach 19 years of age without being charged for them in secondary schools, this is for those students who are under the age of 19 and have not achieved a grade C by 2016 or grade 4 by 2017 or grade 5 by 2018.

The number of 16 to 18 year old students studying English GCSE increased from 52,000 in 2012/2013 to 79,800 in 2013/2014. This is an increase of 53% from the 2012/2013 year end position. *

The number of 16 to18 year old students studying maths GCSE increased from 46,400 in 2012/2013 to 63,000 in 2013/2014. This is an increase of 36% from the 2012/2013 year end position*

*Patterns of study among 16- to 18-year-old,From: Department for Education, First published:31 October 2014



How Grade Up can help

One reason for this increase in students continuing to study GCSE English and Maths may be that the GCSE curriculum was very challenging and students needed further support as well as access to the curriculum at higher level. If a student does not achieve a grade C or the benchmark grade, this can have a huge negative impact and can build a mental block for students to feel that they will not do any better should they sit the exam again, it also weakens their confidence, this is why it is more important to get it right the first time and even more important to have support for the 2nd attempt.


The way in which our tuition is structured varies from student to student. Not every child that needs help is behind academically. It could be that the child needs to achieve a higher grade then the school aim grade or a child is aspiring to take up a career where they need access to further challenges in subject content or simply access to subject content.


Quite often, the issues are more down to confidence rather than ability. As students taste some success and feel a sense of achievement, with our help at Grade Up, students will start to display confidence and engagement in school life and in school lessons. English and Maths are embedded across all subjects and as students develop in these subjects they also start to make progress, feel confident and engage in lesson across other subjects.


Just as the programme of study is tailored to meet every child’s individual needs, so is the approach we use as a tutor. It’s also not uncommon for us to work with students that are very capable and doing very well on the whole, but just need a boost in the right places to move up to the next grade.

All our GCSE tutors hold degrees in their subject areas and the majority teach in schools.