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When do GCSEs finish? Schedule for 2023 exams explained and when GCSE results day is

Exam season is well under way for GCSE and A-level students across the country, and pupils have been warned that this year’s results will see a “step back to normal” after years disrupted by Covid-19.

There was an increase in top grades during the pandemic, due to a range of support measures put in place to mitigate against the disruption of school closures. In 2020, students were given teacher-predicted grades in the absence of exams.

However, now that the majority of these adjustments have been removed or scaled back, results in 2023 are expected to be similar to pre-Covid levels.

When do GCSEs finish?

This year’s GCSE exams started on Monday 15 May and the final exams will be on Wednesday 21 June.

Here are links to the full GCSE exam timetables by board:

When is GCSE results day 2023?

GCSE results day falls on Thursday 24 August this year – a week after A-level students find out their grades.

Generally, results are made available to collect from schools and colleges at around 8am, but you should check before with your institution or teachers to confirm how and when to get your grades.

Some schools send their grades out by email or post.

How do GCSE grades work?

Ahead of the 2017 GCSEs, the government changed the GCSE grading system from A* to G to a numerical system of 9 to 1 (9 being the top grade and 1 being the lowest).

As per the guide below, issued by the exams regulator Ofqual, the numerical system essentially boils down to the following:

  • 9 = High A* grade
  • 8 = Lower A* or high A
  • 7 = Lower A grade
  • 6 = High B grade
  • 5 = Lower B or high C
  • 4 = Lower C grade
  • 3 = D or high E
  • 2 = Lower E or high F
  • 1 = Lower F or G
  • U = U remains the same

The numerical system means that, while a pass used to be a simple C grade, there are now two marks considered a “pass” for GCSE students.

Schools are judged by the proportion of its pupils that achieve a “standard” pass and above, which is denoted by a grade 4.

Slightly confusingly, schools are also held to account for the proportion of pupils that gain a “strong” pass or above which is a grade 5.

What should we expect from this year’s grades?

Dr Jo Saxton, head of Ofqual, explained results would be more similar to pre-pandemic levels after they were significantly higher in 2020 and 2021. However, she said that examiners will use data to set grade thresholds that are “fair to students”.

“There’s no doubt that the pandemic has cast a long shadow, and that’s partly why we’ve put some protections in place,” Dr Saxton told the BBC.

“A student should be able to get a grade that they would have got had there not been a pandemic, even if the quality of their work is a little bit weaker”.

Students in England have not been given advance information about the topics they were likely to be tested on – as they had during Covid.

With that measure removed, grades this year are expected to fall back in line with results from 2019. Dr Saxton said these “pre-pandemic arrangements” would give clarity to universities and employers.

However, some of the adjusted measures from the Covid years will remain in place – including the spacing apart of exams and GCSE students being given formulae and equations in some subjects. Students will also not be expected to confront unfamiliar words in language exams.

Outside England though, grades are expected to remain higher than they were in 2019 due to exam regulators in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland maintaining Covid-era modifications.

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