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GCSEs as hard as O'Levels.

GCSEs as hard as O'Levels.

The new-style GCSE exams in England are the most difficult since the end of O-levels in the 1980s, according to an independent school leader.

The first results of revised GCSEs in English and maths will be published this week, with a grading system using numbers from 9 to 1.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, says they will stretch the most able students.

But he urges universities to be cautious about using the top grade 9.

Coursework sidelined

"Universities should not consider the distinction between an 8 and a 9 worth making until they have evidence that it does indicate something," Mr Lenon writes in an article to be published later this week.

"After all, 95% might get you a grade 8, 96-to-100% a grade 9. Does the grade 9 student have greater intellectual ability and academic potential or are they simply better at writing fast, or better at checking for silly errors?

"Only time, and analysis of results, will tell."

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