Predicting 9-1 Grades for GCSE (9-1) Drama

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One of the biggest challenges facing teachers at the moment is making grade predictions for the new 9-1 GCSE qualifications. I have collated all the data I can find through social media with the hope of pulling something together which may help teachers until the first assessment.

What are grade boundaries? Grade boundaries, quite simply, are the marks at which the grade is awarded. Calculating grade boundaries is complicated and involves a lot of data, including the students KS2 results. Usually, last years published grade boundaries are used by teachers as a guide for predicting grades for the next cohort. However, the entire grading system has been reformed and is changing from letters to numbers.

Comparable outcomes will be used in the first year of awarding. This means that students will receive equivalent grades to those who submitted work of the same standard in previous years. If a student’s work is awarded a C in a previous year, work of the same standard will be awarded a 4 on the new grading structure.

So, what do we know?

Certain letter grades are anchored to number grades.

  Old Grade

  New Grade







We know how a grade 9 will be awarded. After the 7 boundary has been set, the following formula will be used to calculate the number of grade 9s to be awarded.

Percentage of those achieving at least a grade 7 who will be awarded a grade 9 = 7% + 0.5 × (percentage of students awarded grade 7 and above) 

This will then be used to set the 9 boundary. All the other boundaries will be evenly spaced between the anchor points.

And what don’t we know?

There are two key things that we don’t know that will affect the setting of grade boundaries in the first year. The first is the cohort data. How will the expected performance of the cohort differ from that of previous cohorts? The second is the movement between exam boards due to the qualification reforms.

Potential grade boundaries.

This comes with a giant health warning! No one, not even me with my experience working for an exam board, can say where the grade boundaries will be. These predictions are based on a collection of teacher predictions, reviewing the 2017 grade boundaries and my own knowledge of the changes to the grade system.

Grade boundaries will be awarding at qualification level and not component level. This means that only the student’s final total will be awarded a grade. Any breakdowns for components will not take into account anything other than simple division.

As the number of students who achieve each mark are not published by exam boards, it is not possible to give a prediction for grade 9, however we know it will be less students than an A* so some guessing has been done below.


Use with extreme caution!





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