Frequently Asked Questions – GCSE Results in Northern Ireland

How will GCSEs be awarded?

All candidates taking GCSEs awarded by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) will receive awards based solely on the grades provided by their schools and colleges, known as Centre Assessment Grades. 

The grades submitted by the schools and colleges will now be awarded by CCEA without change.

What evidence did teachers use?

Each school and college will have developed a holistic professional judgement of each student’s aptitude.  A wide range of student performance data and evidence has been used to inform the development of the Centre Assessment Grades. This is likely to have included:


  • records of each student’s performance throughout their programme of study;
  • performance in any controlled assessments/coursework or other assessments required for the qualification;
  • performance in mock examinations; and
  • prior attainment in GCSE units already completed.

Why has this been changed from the original approach?

Standardisation, which is normally a key feature of awarding qualifications in Northern Ireland and across the UK, was initially to form part of the awarding process. 

However, there is not system level prior performance data available for this group of young people to help inform the standardisation process meaning the GCSE qualifications would be standardised in part on the basis of a school’s past performance. 

The use of Centre Assessment Grades will ensure that every individual candidate receives a grade that recognises fully the work they have done and encourages as many young people as possible to remain in education or training post-16 and to know they have another opportunity to engage with education and to build on the knowledge, understanding and skills they have acquired during their GCSE studies.

Does this change affect all GCSEs?

The changes announced by the Education Minister, Peter Weir, only apply to GCSEs awarded by CCEA, which is the Northern Ireland based awarding body. CCEA provides around 97% of GCSE examinations in Northern Ireland.

There will be a small number of students who have taken GCSEs through other awarding bodies in England or Wales.  These are not under the authority of the Department of Education in Northern Ireland, however, they intend to follow a broadly similar approach, 

Will there be a delay in issuing results?

No, CCEA GCSE results will be published on Thursday 20 August as planned. Results will be available from your school or college, who will provide details of the particular arrangements. The Centre Assessment Grades will remain confidential until the publication of results on Thursday 20 August.

I did not get on with my teacher, will this affect my grade?

Schools and Colleges were given detailed advice and guidance on how to reach a judgement on Centre Assessment Grades. This included the requirement for discussions to be had between teachers and with senior teachers and lecturers to reach a shared and internally-moderated judgement and ensure fairness. Schools and Colleges have a detailed range of evidence on which to assess candidates.

Schools and colleges have been specifically advised that judgements should not be affected by a student’s behaviour (both good and poor), character, appearance or social background.

Can I appeal the grade given by my school or college?

If candidates are unhappy with their result, they should discuss their outcomes with their school or college in the first instance. School or colleges will have an internal appeals or complaints process which they will follow.

Are these qualifications less valuable?

Absolutely not, as with results awarded in previous years, these qualifications will facilitate progression onto the next stage of learning.  We have been clear throughout this process that further education, higher education and employers will see these as valid grades, the same as exam results in any other years. 

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