Year 9 Options Guidance

Back to year 9 options

Making the right choices: how to choose your options

DO choose a course because…

  • You are passionate and enjoy the subject
  • You feel you are good at the subject and you try hard in it
  • You are aspirational and you want to keep future options open in this area
  • You are fully informed about the subject and you know what you will be studying and how you will be examined
  • You have discussed it with your subject teachers
  • You know you will work hard across the two years in this subject
  • You want to achieve and excel in this subject

DO NOT choose a course because…

  • Your friends are choosing it – it may not be right for you
  • You like a particular teacher – you may have a different teacher next year
  • You think it will be easy

Understanding GCSEs

From 2018 traditional A*-G grades were replaced in all subjects by a numerical system that score pupils on a scale from 9-1. These GCSE courses are more challenging than ever, with all the exams set at the end of Year 11. Grade 9 is reserved for the very top tier of Y11 pupils nationally. Sometimes less than 5% of pupils will achieve a Grade 9 in a particular subject. The courses and exams ensure that that pupils leave school better prepared for work or further study. They cover more challenging content and are designed to match standards in the strongest performing education systems elsewhere in the world.

More information:

Key Points

  1. Since 2018, GCSEs in England have a 9 to 1 grading scale, to better differentiate between the highest performing pupils and distinguish clearly between the new and old exams.
  2. Grade 9 is the highest grade and is awarded to fewer pupils than the previous A*.
  3. The old and new GCSE grading scales do not directly compare but there are three points where they align, as the diagram shows:
    The bottom of a grade 7 is aligned with the bottom of grade A;
    The bottom of a grade 4 is aligned with the bottom of grade C;
    The bottom of grade 1 is aligned with the bottom of a grade G 4.
  4. The Department for Education recognises grade 4 and above as a ‘standard pass’; this is the minimum level that pupils need to reach in English and Maths, otherwise they will need to continue to study these subjects as part of their post-16 education. There is no retake requirement for other subjects.
  5. Employers, universities and colleges will continue to set the GCSE grades they require for employment or further study. Minimum requirements usually include grade 4 in English and maths.

New Grading Structure

Old Grading Structure