Press release: Revised GCSE maths sample assessment materials being published

Today’s announcements reflect actions agreed with Ofqual following the conclusion of a recent research programme.

Ofqual has conducted qualitative and quantitative research on the revised materials to confirm that there is greater consistency of difficulty between the boards’ papers and that each board’s specification effectively differentiates across the full ability range of GCSE maths students.

Commenting on the announcement, Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator, said:

The new sample papers are now judged to be very similar, in terms of expected difficulty, and also likely to differentiate across the full range of students. They meet our requirements.

We appreciate that teachers will want to choose a specification that best suits their students and the way that they teach, with the assurance that, whichever board they choose, standards will be comparable when students sit their exams in 2017 and beyond. We are already looking ahead to 2017, and new checks and balances we will put in place beforehand to make sure that the real exams are set at a comparable level of difficulty.

Full details of today’s announcement can be found in our post research review and regulatory summary.

Ofqual is also today publishing the analysis and decisions of its recent consultation along with revised conditions and guidance.


Today’s announcement reflects the actions taken by the exam boards since Ofqual produced the findings of its initial research in May. Ofqual concluded that OCR, Pearson and WJEC Eduqas needed to refine their higher and foundation tier papers to sufficiently differentiate across student abilities, and AQA needed to lift, to some extent, the expected difficulty of their foundation tier papers.


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