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Everything Parents Need to Know About Changes to GCSEs and A-Levels

The new academic year is about to start which means lots of big changes for many GCSE and A-level students. From September 2015 a more traditional structure and exam pattern will be put in place, which means students will be tested in a much more challenging way than ever before. Here at Tutor Doctor we want to make sure that you are aware of these changes and know how they are going to affect your children.

What are the changes?
The main changes will surround GCSEs and A-levels, in particular the exam structure. Modular exams will become a thing of the past as will most coursework. All exams will take on a more traditional approach- becoming linear and taken at the end of the two-year course.


  • There will also be a new 1-9 grading scale for GCSEs, with 9 being the highest. For more in-depth information about the new grading structure read Ofqual’s postcard.
  • New GCSEs will have more demanding content
  • The first phase involves new syllabuses in Maths, English language and literature. Teaching for these subjects will start in September 2015, for first exams in June 2017.
  • The second phase involves Science (including separate sciences), Geography, History, Languages, Religious studies, Citizenship, Art & design, Music, Dance, Physical education, Computer science, Drama, Design & technology. Teaching in these will start in September 2016, with first exams June 2018.
  • Exams will only be split into ‘foundation tier’ and ‘higher tier’ if one exam paper doesn’t give all students the opportunity to show their knowledge and abilities.


  • The Department of Education is planning on making A-level exams tougher so that they reflect the high expectations of Universities.
  • AS and A-levels will be decoupled, meaning AS results will no longer count towards the final A-Level grade (currently counts for 50%).
  • Coursework will significantly be reduced. For example in subjects such as English and History coursework will be reduced from 40% to 20%.
  • Content for new A-levels have been updated. Universities have had a huge input into these course revisions.

When are the changes happening?

These changes will start being phased in from September 2015. For GSCEs the changes will begin in core subjects such as Maths, English Literature and Language, with exams being taken in ‘Summer 2017.’ The majority of other GCSE subjects will start teaching the new syllabus inSeptember 2016.

A-levels will follow a similar arrangement, with changes starting in September 2015 in the following subjects:

  • Art and design
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • English language
  • English language and literature
  • English literature
  • History
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

By September 2017 all subjects will have transitioned and be following the new structure. For more detailed information on these academic changes browse Ofqual’s official websitehere.

How can Tutor Doctor make it easier for my child?
The new GCSE and A-level exam structures will be a huge challenge for many students. Remembering two years worth of information is probably going to be extremely overwhelming and scary. Here at Tutor Doctor we have developed The Academic Game Plan to help students learn executive skills such as time management, organisation, memory, prioritisation, focused attention and task initiation.

We know that these skills aren’t always taught at school, so we aim to show students how to apply them to their studying. This means that they will learn how to become more organised, manage their time effectively, as well as understand how to prioritise certain tasks over others. Having a grasp of all of these vital skills will help make students feel in control and as if they have a lot more time on their hands.

For more information about our unique one-to-one tutoring services please visit our website.

Feel free to download our free sample of The Academic Game Plan here.