2019 GCSE results in science



The Association for Science Education (ASE) congratulates Scottish National and English, Welsh and Northern Irish GCSE students and their science teachers following the release of the 2019 results.

It’s a complex picture across the UK:

  • In England science subjects were graded numerically from 9 to 1 for the second time.
  • Northern Ireland's exam board, CCEA, has maintained the A*-G grading system, although it has introduced a new C* grade. Northern Ireland’s A* issued by CCEA has this year been fully realigned to the 9 grade in England. The vast majority of GCSEs are studied through CCEA, but a number of GCSE entries were also made through English exam boards, which means that some pupils received results in the form of numbers as well as letters.
  • Teenagers across Wales opening their GCSE results were not able to compare their grades directly with those awarded in England, as Wales has retained the A*-G grading system for all subjects.
  • In Scotland, National 5 (N5) qualifications are the equivalent of the GCSE in very broad terms; results were issued in early August. There are also National 4 and National 3 qualifications.

Shaun Reason, Chief Executive of the ASE, said “What we can say is that students and their teachers are to be congratulated on meeting the challenges across our four nations. It has not been easy and examination stress this year has been an issue for both students and their teachers.”

In England, GCSE combined science was awarded for the second time this summer. Following issues during 2018 when Ofqual exceptionally allowed exam boards to award a grade 3-3 on the higher tier in combined science, most schools and colleges appear to have reflected on their previous tier entry decisions when making entries for summer 2019. Fewer than 4,500 students were ungraded on the higher tier this year, out of a total entry of over 140,000. This is significantly less than the 11,000 students that would have been ungraded in summer 2018 if no action had been taken.

Shaun added, “I am concerned that the reformed GCSEs in science contain more content at the expense of deeper understanding and enjoyment. They were clearly designed to be more rigorous than before, but this may not be in the best interests of our more vulnerable and disadvantaged students. ASE recognises that there are many roads leading to a successful career and that there are a whole range of options available for young people who have not done as well as they’d hoped.”


Notes to Editors:

The Association for Science Education (ASE) is the largest subject association in the UK. It is an active professional learning community that has been supporting all those involved in science education from pre-school to higher education for over 100 years; members include teachers, technicians, researchers, tutors and advisers.  It is a Registered Charity with a Royal Charter, owned by its members, independent of government and therefore a powerful voice for science education. ASE continues to make a positive and influential difference to the teaching and learning of science throughout the UK and further afield. Membership offers lots of unique benefits.