How we ensure comparability of Pearson Edexcel International GCSE English qualifications | Pearson qualifications

How we ensure comparability of Pearson Edexcel International GCSE English qualifications

Pearson news update from Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President, Schools. 

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In November 2019 we provided details on how we ensure comparability of all Pearson Edexcel International GCSEs with their UK counterparts. As a follow-up to that, we would like to share with you further information on the work we are doing to ensure the continued comparability of the International GCSE English suite.

We would like to assure you that Pearson Edexcel International GCSEs are comparable to the GCSE (9-1) qualifications. They continue to be recognised by universities in the UK and around the world, and are taken by over 100,000 students annually in more than 70 countries. This comparability has been confirmed by the independent evaluation conducted by UK NARIC. You can read more on this research and our overall approach to maintaining these standards on our website.

Comparability of International GCSE English Language A and International GCSE English Literature coursework

You will have read in our November 2019 communications that, for the Summer 2019 series, we applied measures relating to the coursework component for the International GCSE English Language A and English Literature qualifications to address the slight differences found in performance between the exam-only and coursework routes.

In the awarding for future exam series, we will continue to take specific actions to ensure that the examined and coursework routes of 4EA1 and 4ET1 have comparable levels of demand and are fair to all candidates. These actions include:

  • A psychometric approach which equates scores across the two optional routes using paper 01 which is taken by all candidates.
  • Comparing two groups of candidates: a group of students who had taken International GCSE (9-1)s and reformed GCSE (9-1)s, and a second group who had taken only the reformed GCSE (9-1)s.

Based on these analyses, additional adjustment to grade boundaries may be needed in the January and May/June 2020 exam series and we will complete these as part of our awarding process.

You will find more details on our overall approach to awarding and the specific actions we have taken in 2019 and will take in 2020 for the International GCSE English suite below.

How we award International GCSE (9-1) qualifications (PDF | 156 KB)

The grade boundaries for 4EA1 01 & 02 and 4EA1 01 & 03 (showing the two routes) are provided in the grade boundaries document below:

Grade Boundaries Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) June 2019 (PDF | 500 KB)

What action do I need to take?

There is no need for teachers to make any changes to their approach to marking coursework. As previously, you should apply the mark scheme best fit and award marks accordingly. Grade boundaries are set at qualification level. We offer notional component grade boundaries to help teachers gain an indicator of grade performance when students sit mock examinations. The relationship between grade boundaries and notional component grade boundaries is explained in the document below.

Notional Component Grade Boundaries June 2019 (PDF | 508 KB)

Next steps

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions you have about our International GCSE qualifications so please contact us via or call us on 0161 855 7561 to arrange a conversation. Furthermore, we will be sharing more details with you on Pearson’s own comparability research in the coming weeks. 


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