5 better ways GCSEs could be graded

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Why ranks and belts could be way cooler than grades – and how JK Rowling got it just right.

Exams aren’t like they were in your day.

Unless you took GCSEs this summer, that statement is actually true. Reforms to the grading system mean the traditional A*-G grades have been axed in English and maths, and will be replaced by the 9-1 grades – with 9 the highest result.

The new grading system for GCSEs
(PA Graphics)

Here’s some possibilities to ponder.

1. Emoji grades

People dressed as emojis
(Matt Alexander/PA)

Here’s how the old grading system might be replaced.



Heart sunglasses
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
Heart eyes
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
Smiling emoji
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
Smiling sweating
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)


Wide eyed flat mouthed emoticon
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
Sweating and upset Emoticon
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
A down in the dumps emoji
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
Upset emoji
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)
A dead faced emoji
(Pingebat/ Getty Images)

Then again, if you don’t know that you might not quite be cut out for a host of exams – in the UK at least…

2. Harry Potter grading

Kids dressed as Harry Potter
(Danny Lawson/PA)

The exams invented in JK Rowling’s Wizarding World see students taking Hogwarts exams graded from A through to T – in order of best to worst marks, here’s how it works.

O – Outstanding

E – Exceeds Expectations

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P – Poor

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T – Troll

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3. Army ranks

Prince Charles saluting in an Army uniform
(John Giles/PA)

This idea would separate the men from the boys, plus you wouldn’t feel gutted at not doing well if you still got a nifty title along with your failure – private of French and proud.

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By using these two tiers of ranking you could actually reform the grading for both GCSEs and A-levels – with different names for different tiers of qualification.

Throw in some honorary medals for merit and you’re away.

4. Karate belts

Karate students
(diego_cervo/Getty Images)

Known as an Obi in Japan, belts varying in colour are given to people with varying mastery of fighting styles such as judo and karate.

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It might make things tough for those wanting to keep their grades quiet though…

5. Tennis rankings

Andy Murray with the ATP trophy
(Adam Davy/PA)

How about instead of giving grades, students are just given a ranking amongst all their peers who took the exam – or better still by pulling together the scores they got in all their exams to work out their place in the country?

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Throw a trophy in there for the winners and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine system…

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