Published on 30th August 2017 by Laura Nineham

You will have heard that about the new GCSE reform: the government has introduced a new scoring system for GCSEs in England, where exams will be scored from 1 to 9 (with 9 being the highest score) instead of A* to G.

So: how does this affect you and applying to medical school? Read on to find out more!

See different medical school entry requirements

What are the new GCSE reforms?

The reforms are designed to allow greater differentiation between students, and courses are designed for two years of study, so you’ll sit all of your exams at the end of the academic year instead of in different modules. The government has suggested that the new GCSEs will be more demanding in content.

New GCSEs in English Literature, English Language and Mathematics were taught from September 2015, and the results were released in August 2017. All GCSE subjects were reformed by September 2018.

You can see a timetable of the other GCSE reforms here:

New GCSE to be taught:First results issued:Subjects
September 2016Summer 2018ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin); art and design; biology; chemistry; citizenship studies; combined science (double award); computer science; dance; drama; food preparation and nutrition; geography; history; modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish); music; physics; physical education; religious studies
September 2017Summer 2019ancient history; astronomy; business; classical civilisation; design and technology; economics; electronics; engineering; film studies; geology; media studies; modern foreign languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, modern Greek, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish, Russian, Urdu); psychology; sociology; statistics
September 2018Summer 2020ancient languages (biblical Hebrew); modern foreign languages (Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese, Turkish)

What are medical school policies on GCSE reforms?

Many medical schools have stated that from 2017 entry they will accept a mixture of GCSEs taken under the new format and those which have not.

Many medical schools have released how they will translate the previous format (A* to G) to the new format (1 to 9), although several state that their policies are currently awaiting review. Generally speaking, the equivalent grades are as follows:

Letter GradesNumber Grades

However, it’s worth noting that some universities have slightly different policies so if you’re unsure it’s best to contact each medical school directly about their GCSE entry requirements.

For example, UCL considers C to be equivalent to a 5, however most medical schools have equated grade C to a 4. Norwich (University of East Anglia) and Exeter equate a grade B to a 5 – as opposed to 6 like the majority of medical schools.

You can see more on GCSE Requirements for Medicine here.

How does GCSE reform affect me?

If you’re applying to medicine from 2017 onwards, you can expect to see medical school entry requirements update to account for the new number scoring system.

Many universities have already updated their GCSE requirements in line with GCSE reform – for example, Barts state that the requirements for their Medicine course are AAAABBB or 7777666.

In the changeover period, something to bear in mind with the new scoring system is how each university considers each grade – so keep this in mind when applying! For example, as mentioned above, universities such as Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester equate grade C to a 4, however UCL considers a C to be equivalent to a 5 – so make sure you check entry requirements thoroughly before applying!


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