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2018 UAE GCSE and IGCSE results – Strong showing again

2018 UAE GCSE and IGCSE results – Strong showing again

by Lis ONealAugust 23, 2018

In the second year of the ‘toughened-up,’ GCSE format it seems that both schools and the media have got to grips with the new reporting structure which will spread across all GCSE subjects – the grading from 9 (equivalent to A) to 1, with 4 being deemed to be a C grade – in place of the previous A to G grades. The new grades don’t exactly correlate to the old letters. So a new 4 is approximately a ‘low-ish’ C. 9, 8 or 7 is equivalent to an A* or A grade, 6, 5 or 4 is equivalent to a B or C grade, 3, 2 or 1 is equivalent to a D, E or F grade and a U mark is judged as ungraded.  All GCSE results will be reported under the new grading structure this year.

According to the Exam Regulator, Ofqual pupils will not suffer because of the changed grade boundaries. Cath Jadhav from Ofqual was quoted in the Evening Standard as saying “Grade 9 is not the same as the old A* grade. It’s a new grade designed to recognise the very best performance. So in every subject there will be fewer grade 9s awarded than As in the old GCSEs.”  However, this statement appears to be at odds with a statement reported in the Guardian in which Ofqual’s chief regulator, Sally Collier, in a letter to Headteachers, said “When qualifications change, we expect that there might be more variation in school and college results. However, last summer we saw normal levels of variation, including in those subjects that were reformed.”  Ms. Collier also advised that “broadly the same proportion of students” will achieve grade 7 and above as achieved grade A and A in the old GCSEs, and a similar proportion will gain grade 4 and above as achieved grade C and above in 2017.

The changes are not just about the grading structure, but also about the format for delivery of the courses and an effort to raise standards. Similar to the changes that have been implemented for A Levels since last year, Simon O’Connor from Jumeirah College informed us that “the linear nature of the courses and the reduction in coursework means that there is a far greater loading on the end of the course. The exams are also undoubtedly tougher – both in terms of the expected knowledge required and the skills students are expected to exhibit”.

In addition to the core subjects of English Language, English Literature and Maths for which the results were issued in the new format last summer, further subjects have been adapted to the new framework for 2018’s results. These include Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Citizenship studies, Classical Greek and Combined Science, Computer Science, Dance, Drama, Food Prep and Nutrition, French, Geography, German, History, Latin, Music, PE, Physics, Religious Education and Spanish.

The last group of subjects to change, for 2019 exams, will be Ancient History, Astronomy, Business, Classical Civilisation, Design and Tech, Economics, Electronics, Engineering, Film Studies, Geology, Media Studies, Modern Foreign Languages, PE (short course) Psychology, Sociology, Statistics.

Note: this change in grading structure and course format does not apply to IGCSE, which will continue to be reported in their previous Alphabetical format. However, since many UAE schools offer a mix of GCSE and IGCSE, we expect many to use a comparative table to provide overall school data.

The most commonly accepted interpretation for reporting overall student performance, and the one that the British Schools in Dubai group will use this year, is below:

8 and 9 A*
7 to 9 A* + A
6 to 9 A* to B
4 to 9 A* to C



Results from UAE based schools suggest so far, despite the concerns raised about grades being potentially lower this year, that UAE students have continued to achieve at a high level.  With many schools offering both GCSE and IGCSE schools are reporting both the new 9-1 grading structure and the A* – A structure still in use for IGCSE.

Dubai College advised that 246 students took GCSE exams this year, all of whom passed their subjects. 67% of results were at Grades 8 or 9 (equivalent to A* ) – up 13% on 2017, 88% were Grades 7, 8 and 9 (A* or A) – up 3.49% on 2017, and 99.67% of results were grades 4 – 9 (the equivalent of the old A* – C rating).  30 students achieved all grades 9 and 8 (A* ), whilst 63 students achieved grades 7-9 (A* – A).

At Kings School Al Barsha with only the second set of GCSE results, 62% of grades achieved were at A* – A (9 – 7), and 78% of grades were at A* – B equivalent.  A* – A grades were 18% higher than 2017.

At Dubai British School 69 students sat their GCSE and IGCSE exams.  47% of results were at A* – A (9-7) compared with 40% last year, whilst 84% of results were at A* – B (compared with 69% last year). 95% were at A* – C, with 68 of the 69 students achieving 5 passes at A* – C including English and Maths.  8 students achieved A* – A grades across the board.   These are the best ever results achieved by DBS students.

GEMS Education issued data for all of its 17 schools that offer GCSE and IGCSE. 2,210 GEMS students sat the exams, with 18% of results graded at A* , 39% at A* – A and 64% at A* – B. Around 10% of students (208) achieved Grade 9 results, with over 500 A* equivalent grades awarded across all the schools.

Jumeirah College part of the GEMS group, stood out as it again broke records at GCSE according to Principal, Simon O’Connor. 163 students took 1,568 exams and results showed that 66% of grades were at A* – A or equivalent (Grades 9-8). A substantial 93% of grades were A* – B. Over 98% of students achieved 5 A* – C grades including Maths and English. 33 students achieved all A* – A grades or equivalent. In addition, 18% of grades (203 exam papers in total) were graded 9 (the new higher A* rating) and a further 283 were graded at 8 – meaning that 43% of grades were an equivalent of A*. Exam results, in terms of all measures, have improved again at Jumeirah College this year, despite the expectations in the UK that there would be fewer higher grades issued.

Nord Anglia International School in Dubai also achieved excellent results, with 505 entries, of which 36% were graded A* (grades 9-8), 65% were A* – A, A* – B grades were awarded to 90% of entries and 99% of papers were awarded A* – C. On average, NAS students achieved 1.2 grades higher across all subjects than their predicted grades based on CAT IV tests.

At Brighton College, Abu Dhabi, 77 students sat their GCSE’s. 27% of results were graded 9, with 47% of results at A* equivalent. 71% of results were graded A* – A (grades 9-8), 71% at A* – A (grades 9-7), 90% at A* – B (grades 9-5) and 96% at A* – C (grades 9-4). Three students each achieved 7 Grade 9 passes.

Also in Abu Dhabi, Aldar Academies released results for the three schools that offer GCSE and IGCSE.  99% of the 194 IGCSE students achieved A* – C grades or equivalent. At  Al Yasmina Academy 79 IGCSE students recorded 92% A* – A grades, and all students achieved A* – C grades.  At Al Bateen Academy 90 students sat IGCSE and GCSE exams with 90% of students achieving results graded A* – A or equivalent.  99% of the cohort achieved A* – C grades, and an overall pass rate of 100%.  At Aldar’s Al Ain Academy 22 of the second cohort’s 25 IGCSE students received results graded at A* – A and all obtained results graded A* – C.  *NB Aldar Academies’ figures relate to the number of students achieving exam passes at a specific grade range, and not the number of exam entries that were graded at this level. has asked for further clarification.

At the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi, students again achieved record results. 126 students sat a total of 1,120 GCSE entries. 34% of all grades were at A* , 56% were A* – A, 83% at A* – B and 95% at A* – C. 18% of exams were graded the new Grade 9 compared with a UK average of 3%. 31 students achieved A* – A in all their exams and 95% of students achieved at least 5 A* – C including Maths and English. BSAK offers 26 different A Level options as well as 3 BTEC level 3 diplomas in Engineering, Business Studies and Sport.

Repton School Dubai also released its students IGCSE results. The school did not advise the number of students who sat the exams, but informed that 94% of candidates achieved 5 or more A* – C grades, with over 29% of all grades at A* – the highest in the school’s history. Highlights of the results obtained include the fact that 80% of all grades for Biology, Chemistry and Physics were at A* – A grades.

Back in Dubai, Sunmarke School advised that 58 students participated in GCSE exams this year and 97% passed the exams they entered. 35% of results were graded A* or equivalent, 51% of grades were A* – A and 90% A* – C.  There was an overall exam pass rate of 99%.

At JESS Arabian Ranches 121 students took part in the 2018 GCSE exam session. 119 achieved five passes at A* – C including Maths and English.  40% of exams taken were graded A* or equivalent (compared with 33% in 2017), 70% were graded A* – A (compared with 66% in 2017) and 99% of results were graded A* – C (1% higher than 2017).  The most successful 10 students achieved 9A* grades this year, whilst 34 students gained 9 A* – A grades (compared with 27 in 2017).

At Sharjah English School 38 students participated in the GCSE exams. 38% of passes were at A*, 56% of grades A* – A or 9-7 and 98% of grades were at A* – C (9-4). The highest grades scored by a single students were 6 Grade 9’s, 2 grade 8s and 1 A*.

At the British International School in Abu Dhabi, 47% of all GCSE and IGCSE students achieved A* or A. This significantly exceeds the UK average of 20.5%.  83% of students achieved five or more A* –  C grades compared to the UK average of 69.5%. One notable success related to Languages in which 59% of students achieved the top grade of A*.

Brighton College Al Ain reported a 100% pass rate for its 34 students who took GCSE exams. 19.4% of grades were at the new elevated Grade 9, 34% of grades were at A* (9–8), 54% of grades A* – A (9–7), 76% at A* – B and 90% of grades were A* – C.

Back in Dubai, the first cohort of students at Kent College Dubai were also very pleased with their results. A small initial cohort of 14 students achieved 24.8% of grades at A*, 47.9% at A-A and 95.9% of grades were at A-C.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi reported a strong set of results among the 31 students who took their GCSE exams. 25% of grades were at A*, whilst 51% of results were graded A* – A.  92% of exam entries were graded A* – C. The highest achievements by an individual student was 9A* 1A and 1C, whilst a second student achieved 8A* and 3A grades.

GEMS Wellington International School, (one of the top performers among the UK curriculum schools) provided with detailed information in relation to their student successes this year. A total of 179 students (149 last year), were entered for 833 exams (647 last year) and 17% of exam entries were graded A* (grades 9-8) compared with 18% last year (which given the higher standard of the A* exams in 2018 is a real achievement).  Some 60% of entries (compared with 50% a year ago) were graded A-A (grades 9-7). 78% of entries achieved A-B (compared with 79% a year ago) whilst 98% of exam entries were graded A-C (grades 9-4) compared with 94% in 2017.  The percentage of students achieving 5 A-C (grades 9-4) including English and Maths was slightly lower at 91%, compared with 94% a year ago, but a significant success by all measures. Overall, 94% of students passed their exams at grades A*-C – against a UK average of 69.5%. The highest number of passes by an individual student was an impressive 12!

Dubai English Speaking College with one of the largest cohorts of GCSE and IGCSE students – at 178 – also reported a strong set of results, with a 100% pass rate. 5.1% of exam entries achieved the new Grade 9 rating, whilst 18% of all entries recorded A* (Grades 9-8) and 38.7% of results were at A* – A (grades 9-7).  80.2% of entries achieved A* – B (grades 9-5) and a total of 95.6% of entries were graded A-C (grades 9-4).  The highest individual grades were achieved by 26 DESC students who attained all A and A grades (9-7). a similar figure to 2017.

The English College, one of the longest established UK curriculum secondary schools in Dubai, also provided details of its students’ results this year.   The 2017-18 GCSE cohort of 86 students sat a total of 733 exams of which 17% of results were graded A*. A total 36% of results were graded  A* – A (9-7), whilst an impressive 78% of entries were graded A* – B (9-5). 93% of all results were graded between A* – C (9-4).  97% of students achieved 5 A* – C including Maths and English.  The highest grades achieved by an individual student this year was Four 9’s, three 8’s.

Further updates will follow as results are received.

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About The Author
Lis ONeal

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