What is the Average GCSE Grade in the UK?

In GCSE by Think Student Editor1 Comment

Every student in the UK has to sit GCSEs, which means at the end of exams, every student will receive a unique set of grades. Students who’ve already sat their GCSEs will know the feeling of comparing all your grades to your friends, because naturally, you want to know how others did too. Alternatively, you could be a Year 11 about to sit their exams and are wondering how your predicted grades compare to real results. Well, what if I told you that this article has exactly what you need!

The average GCSE grade lies somewhere in between a grade 5 and 6. As you can see in the table below, the average GCSE grade overall for 2022 was 5.47, 5.14 for GCSE Maths, 5.2 for GCSE English Language, and 4.49 for GCSE Combined Science. This was the same as in 2020, the year of TAG (teacher-assessed grades) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the most common grade achieved by students in the UK in 2022 was a 5.

 

Average GCSE grade

Subject 2018 2020 2022
All subjects 5.01 5.47 5.47
Maths 4.49 5.22 5.14
English Language 5.31 5.05 5.2
Combined science 4.21 (4-4) 5.38 (5-5) 4.49 (4-4/5-4)

This article is here to provide you with all you need to know about average GCSE grades across a huge range of subjects.

What is the average GCSE grade overall?

Below, you can find a table with the average grade attainment rates across all GCSE subjects for 3 different years – pre-pandemic, TAG (teacher-assessed grades) during the pandemic, and post-pandemic.

Grade 2018 2020 2022
9 4.3% 6.3% 6.6%
8 & above 10.8% 14.4% 15.1%
7 & above 20.2% 25.9% 26%
6 & above 33.4% 40.7% 40.7%
5 & above 50.2% 58.1% 58.1%
4 & above 66.8% 75.9% 73%
3 & above 84.5% 90.1% 86.7%
2 & above 94% 96.9% 94.5%
1 & above 98.4% 99.6% 98.4%

From the data in the table, the average grade across each year was:

  • 2018: 5.01
  • 2020: 5.47
  • 2022: 5.47

As you can see, 2020 and 2022 had the highest averages and 2018 had the lowest average.

However, the average overall grade achieved isn’t always a completely reliable reflection of how “well” a cohort does at GCSE.

For example, despite 2020 and 2022 having the same average GCSE grade, in 2020 2.9% more students achieved a passing grade 4, therefore could be said to have performed better overall than students in 2022.

If you feel like you’re struggling with preparation for GCSEs, this Think Student article has a lot of helpful advice.

Similarly, it should also be taken into consideration that although 2018 had the lowest grade attainment rates and the lowest average, it was the last GCSE exam year unaffected by the pandemic. 2022 was the first GCSE exam year post-pandemic, which may explain why the average grade was still the same as 2020.

Later in this article, I’ll also be taking you through the average grades for the compulsory GCSEs, and other popular subjects. If you want to know which GCSE subjects are compulsory in 2023, check out this Think Student article.

What is the average grade for GCSE Maths?

Here is a table of the grade attainment rates for GCSE Maths, in the most recent pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic exam years.

Grade 2018 2020 2022
9 2.9% 4.2% 4.4%
8 & above 8.3% 10.4% 11.5%
7 & above 15.8% 18.9% 19.9%
6 & above 25.2% 29% 30.6%
5 & above 40.3% 45.5% 47.5%
4 & above 59.6% 66.4% 64.9%
3 & above 78.3% 84.3% 78.5%
2 & above 91.1% 94.7% 90.1%
1 & above 97.8% 99.3% 97.6%
U 2.3% 0.7% 2.5%

From the data in the table, the average grade across each year was:

  • 2018: 4.49
  • 2020: 5.22
  • 2022: 5.14

As you can see, 2020 had the highest average and 2018 had the lowest average.

Even though 2018 is the lowest average, that doesn’t mean it’s a “bad” grade. This Think Student article has some really helpful information on what “good” and “bad” GCSE grades are.

Based on this data, it was easiest to achieve the highest grade in GCSE Maths in 2020. This is also true based on the highest attainment rate for a pass (grade 4). However, remember that GCSE difficulty depends on your skills and abilities – these numbers are just a general indicator.

For more information on the pass mark for GCSE Maths, check out this Think Student article.

What is the average grade for GCSE English Language?

Here is a table of the grade attainment rates for GCSE English Language, in the most recent pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic exam years.

Grade 2018 2020 2022
9 2% 3.4% 3.7%
8 & above 6.1% 9% 10.1%
7 & above 13.9% 18.7% 20.1%
6 & above 27.2% 33.6% 36%
5 & above 44.5% 50.9% 53.6%
4 & above 61.9% 71.2% 69.6%
3 & above 86.5% 90.8% 87.4%
2 & above 95.5% 97.7% 95%
1 & above 98.8% 99.7% 98.5%
U 1.1% 0.4% 1.3%

From the data in the table, the average grade across each year was:

  • 2018: 5.31
  • 2020: 5.05
  • 2022: 5.2

As you can see, 2018 had the highest average and 2022 had the lowest average.

The average grade for GCSEs, however, is different to the GCSE pass mark. Information on the GCSE English Language can be found in a Think Student article, linked here.

Based on this data, it was easiest to achieve the highest grade in GCSE English Language in 2018. However, based on the highest attainment rate for a pass (grade 4), 2020 was the year it was easiest to pass GCSE English Language.

For revision advice for GCSE English Language, this Think Student article has you covered.

The averages for GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths were closest in 2022.

What is the average grade for GCSE Combined Science?

Here is a table of the grade attainment rates for GCSE Combined Science, in the most recent pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic exam years.

Grade 2018 2020 2022
9-9 0.8% 1.4% 1.3%
8-8 & above 2.8% 4.4% 4.4%
7-7 & above 7.3% 10.5% 10.3%
6-6 & above 15.9% 21.6% 20.5%
5-5 & above 33.2% 41.1% 39.2%
4-4 & above 54.6% 64.5% 60.5%
3-3 & above 78.4% 84.4% 82.4%
2-2 & above 92.2% 95.4% 93.6%
1-1 & above 98.2% 99.6% 98.3%
U 1.8% 0.4% 1.9%

From the data in the table, the average grade across each year was:

  • 2018: 4.21 (4-4)
  • 2020: 5.38 (5-5)
  • 2022: 4.49 (4-4 or 5-4)

As you can see, 2020 had the highest average and 2018 had the lowest average.

Based on this data, it was easiest to achieve the highest grade in GCSE Combined Science in 2020. This is also true based on the highest attainment rate for a pass (grade 4).

You will notice that Combined Science has “two” grades, like 4-4 and 7-7, rather than just ‘4’ or ‘7’. This is because Combined Science is different to Triple Science, which is a separate GCSE option, and has singular grades.

If you want to read more about the difference between Combined and Triple Science, this Think Student article has everything you need.

What is the average grade for other popular GCSE subjects?

There are a whole range of subjects outside the three compulsory GCSEs I’ve discussed above. For a helpful student perspective on choosing your GCSE subjects, check out this Think Student article!

Below is the table for the average GCSE grade for other popular GCSE subjects. The data in this table is for the exam year 2022, but you can find the data for other years in the sources linked below.

Subject Average GCSE grade
Biology 7.01
Chemistry 6.02
Physics 7.01
English Literature 6.38
Geography 6.33
History 6.41
Religious studies 6.11
Art and design 6.19
Music 6.37
Drama 6.18
Business studies 6.28

As shown in the table, Biology had the highest average GCSE grade, and Chemistry had the lowest average GCSE grade. Although how easy/difficult a GCSE subject is personal to you, the average grade gives a general indication of the difficulty of each subject.

For example, I personally feel that this data is an accurate representation of difficulty, because I did better in Biology GCSE than I expected and struggled with GCSE Chemistry. However, someone who achieved a Grade 9 in GCSE Chemistry but a 6 in Biology might feel the opposite.

The table shows that the average grade for Humanities GCSEs stayed fairly consistent at grade 6 (specifically around 6.3), but the STEM subjects fluctuated a lot more. This is also something to consider when choosing your GCSE combinations!

If you’re interested to see which GCSE subjects in this table are the most popular in 2023, check out Think Student’s ranking, linked here!

Does it matter if you are below the average grade for any subject?

The average grade can be used as a means of comparing where you stand on a national ranking and give you an idea of how much work you need to put in to reach your desired position.

Being given an average can be a great way to know how well you’re doing relative to the exam and your classmates. In any class exam, an average grade is usually a reassurance (or a wakeup call!). It also highlights perhaps the difficulty of the exam and your place relative to that.

Despite this, solely knowing the average grade should not benefit you greatly, as it is the revision, planning and practice which ultimately guarantees you your deserved grade, whether the results be via a summary of classwork or the actual exam. See the end of this article for some fantastic links that provide in depth revision tips.

It is important not to get hung up on the average, and do not be discouraged if your predicted grade does not line up or exceed the average grade. Remember that the average will always change depending on the exam results overall- it is unlikely that you will face an unexpectedly terrible grade! If you spend your time focusing on improving your grade alone, then you will naturally reach and exceed the average without even realising.

When it comes to improving your grade in the months of revision ahead, consider making a revision schedule if that’s something which appeals to you. Recognising your strengths and weaknesses are vital when it comes to allocating revision time. It can also be a great way to work efficiently whilst still having a healthy balance for free time activities.

To reiterate, the average grade calculations fluctuate all the time. Don’t worry if you aren’t achieving average in a certain subject. Everybody’s strengths lie in different areas, you may be above average in another subject. Instead use these averages as a lever to improve your learning experience and revision techniques leading up to the exam.

I recommend you check out these student articles below to help with your revision:

*The average GCSE grade across all subjects, provided by Ofqual, linked here.

*The average GCSE grade for individual subjects, provided by Ofqual, linked here.

5 5 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Linn
Linn
2 years ago

Studying for my GCSEs with an average predicted grade of around 7, my highest is an 8 in maths and a 9 in religion, but i think that might be a fluke as I’m an atheist 😉