GCSE Grades in Northern Ireland

GCSE grading in Northern Ireland is changing. Some of these changes have already taken place and further changes will be made for the 2019 examinations.

What are the changes and what will they mean?

From 2019, CCEA will award new A* to G grades for GCSE. This will include a C* grade.

The vast majority of Northern Ireland students take examinations with CCEA and will receive the new A* to G grades. However, students taking exams with AQA, Pearson, Eduqas and OCR, will receive GCSEs graded 9 to 1, where 9 is the highest and 1 is the lowest.

As students in Northern Ireland could receive both letter and number grades, it is important to understand how these compare.

The A* grade and 9 grade will reflect exceptional performance. The percentage of students receiving the A* grade will reduce, when it is aligned with the 9 grade. This means it will be more difficult to achieve an A* grade.

The A grade will align with the 7 and 8 grades. The proportion of those receiving an A grade or above will be similar to those receiving the A grade or above in the past.

The B grade will equate to the 6 grade and the new C* grade will equate to the 5 grade.

The percentage of students receiving a C grade or above will be similar to those achieving a C grade or above in the past.

Introducing the C* grade will mean a reduction in the percentage of those awarded the B grade or C grade.

Approximately the same percentage of students achieving D to G grades will achieve the 3 to 1 grades.

It is important that employers can compare the different grading scales, particularly in English Language and Mathematics. Employers asking for a C grade or above will not need to change this requirement. When comparing letter grades to number grades, the 4 grade is equivalent to the C grade.

All GCSEs, regardless of whether they are graded using letters or numbers, will continue to reflect achievement. Employers, Colleges and Universities will recognise and value them.

CCEA has been working with stakeholders to make sure that they fully understand the new GCSE grading in Northern Ireland.

How can I find out more?

For more information, visit

This website gives more details on how to compare the different grades and there is also a short video explaining the changes to GCSE grading.

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