GCSEs were first introduced in 1988, replacing the previous O-Level qualifications. The GCSE system was seen as a strong improvement, due to the inconsistent results of the O-levels.
Originally, GCSEs were graded between A and G. However, the A* grade was added to the system in 1994, to differentiate between high and low A grades.
Traditionally, grades A* to C were considered to be ‘good passes’, and it was common for colleges and sixth forms to ask for at least five of these from a student, for them to be given a place on a course.
Following the latest changes to the GCSE system, a ‘good pass’ is thought to be a grade between 9 and 5. It is likely that colleges and sixth forms will judge a student on their progress between Year 6 and Year 11 before offering them a place on a course.