Skills by Level & Grade Boundary Calculators

This is a spreadsheet that tries to show where Maths skills fit in comparison to the newer GCSE (9-1) Grades, and how that compares to the old A*-G grades and National Curriculum Levels.

In addition there are various Grade Boundary calculators in the last tab to help when you are setting assessments (especially those you’ve written yourself).

It also shows ‘trajectory’ grades to indicate where KS3 students might be judged to be heading (something my old school used for assessing KS3 students - so the mythical “average progress” student might be assessed at grade 6 in Year 7, then grade 6 again in Year 8 and so on).

I’ve put this together from lots of documents around showing what skills came under old National Curriculum levels and GCSE letter grades. I’ve used those and my own judgment to give an overall idea where these skills fit into the new(ish) grading system.

There are a few skills missing from this, especially towards the top end of the grades, and obviously many of the skills can be framed in a question to make them easier or harder than the grade suggested, so there’s some professional judgement needed in using this.

The last tab of the spreadsheet is full of various grade boundary calculators. Between them, these allow you to:

  • Convert GCSE grade thresholds into KS3 “trajectory” grade thresholds
  • Convert old NC Level and GCSE (A*-G) grade thresholds into new GCSE (9-1) thresholds
  • Count up the number of marks at each grade or level in a test and convert them into grade boundaries
  • Convert actual grade boundaries into standardised scores (eg if you want to standardise all test scores so students always know 10 marks is grade 1, 20 marks is grade 2, 30 marks is grade 3, etc and can compare more easily with previous performance)

I’ve got three different versions of that last one so you can do KS3, Foundation GCSE and Higher GCSE differently if you want.

Mostly when setting my own tests, I would count up the number of marks I judged to be at different National Curriculum Levels, use the third calculator to calculate NC Level boundaries, and then paste those into the second calculator to get grade boundaries for each year group.

Having used (and tweaked) this consistently for at least two years, I’ve found it to be pretty consistent and accurate with the grades students have ended up with. I sometimes find I feel the grade 2 and 3 boundaries are a little on the low side, however, so you may adjust them accordingly if you don’t agree with the calculators!

It’s also available as a Google Sheets document and you should be able to download it as an Excel file (or copy it to your own drive). This way if I update it, I don’t have to re-upload it somewhere, it will always automatically be the latest version -


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Created: Sep 24, 2020

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Creative Commons "Sharealike"