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GCSEs, beginning in September 2015 with results coming out in August 2017, will be graded differently from previous GCSEs.

New material will be added to compulsory subjects, such as Maths and English, with an emphasis on making the courses more challenging. From September 2016, material will also be added to optional courses such as Modern Foreign Languages, humanities and arts subjects.

Modular courses, which allow candidates to sit exams at different points in the two-year GCSE period, will be replaced with a single set of examinations in the summer of Year 11.

Separate ‘foundation’ and ‘higher’ tier papers will only remain for courses in which one exam paper cannot give all students an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.

‘Resits’ (chances to repeat papers, typically in November) will be limited to English Language and Maths.

The previously compulsory English Literature GCSE will become an optional subject, whilst English Language and Maths will remain part of the compulsory curriculum.

Students will be graded largely on exam performances, with less emphasis placed on larger research projects known as coursework.