GCSE results 2023: When are GCSE certificates issued?

Find out when you can expect to receive GCSE certificate

The corner of a GCSE certificate reading 'General Certificate of Secondary Education'
(Image credit: Getty Images)

GCSE results day 2023 is almost here, but once you've got the grades and decided on your next steps, you might find yourself wondering when GCSE certificates are issued.

GCSE results day presents a lot of uncertainty this year, as teacher strikes have disrupted learning and A Level results day saw thousands fewer students in England awarded top grades, following a return to pre-pandemic grading. 

Students and parents alike might find themselves asking questions - from how the grading system works to when are GCSE retakes - but if you're wondering when GCSE certificates are issued, we've got all the information you need right here. Read on to find out how long you might have to wait to receive them and what to do if you don't have a copy of your certificates. 

When are GCSE certificates issued?

GCSE certificates will be sent to your school two to three months after results day, meaning they should arrive around November time. Most schools will post these to you, but you may have to go in to collect them.

Make sure you do this as soon as possible, as you might need to show them to any future employers or further education establishments, and remember they cost money to replace. If you notice any mistakes you must inform your exams officer as soon as possible, as changes are only free in the first three months of issue.

Two students looking at their GCSE results

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How long do you have to collect your GCSE certificates?

Your school should let you know if they will be posting your GCSE certificates to you or if you need to collect them. If you are collecting them, make sure you do this as soon as possible - if GCSE certificates are not collected within a year, schools will either send them back to the exam board or destroy them.

Though this should give you plenty of time, if you can’t collect them within the time frame you should contact your secondary school as soon as possible and try to organise a way for them to get your certificates to you.

What if I don't have a copy of my GCSE certificates?

If you never received a copy of your GCSE certificates, the first thing you should do is contact your school. However, if you have lost them, you will need to apply for a replacement by visiting your exam board's website.

You can't get a new certificate, but the exam board will instead be able to send you a 'certified statement of results', which should show the same information on it as your exam certificates did and can be used in place of your certificate - for example for a university application.

To do this, you will need to fill out personal information to confirm your identity. Exam boards also require you to pay a mandatory fee of at least £40 for a statement of results.

It can take at least four weeks for your application to be reviewed and approved, followed by further time for the certificates to get sent to you, so make sure you apply as soon as possible - you don't want to be waiting if you have deadlines for university or job applications that you need to meet.

To find out more about getting a replacement exam certificate and contacting the relevant exam boards, visit the gov.uk web page.

A GCSE certificate and a pair of reading glasses

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How are GCSEs graded in 2023?

In 2023, GCSEs are returning to pre-pandemic standards, meaning national results will be lower than last summer - as we have already seen on A Level results day.

However, this doesn't mean that students aren't protected from disruption. Dr Jo Saxton, the chief regulator of The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has said: "I can confirm that, in 2023, we will return to pre-pandemic grading as the next step in getting back to normal. But giving the 2023 cohort some protection against any impact of COVID-19 disruption is the right thing to do.

"We are, therefore, putting in place the same protection that was given for the first cohorts of students taking reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2017 onwards. That meant not disadvantaging students who might have performed less well because they were the first to sit new exams."

Grade boundaries change each year and are recommended by experienced senior examiners - and there is no cap on the number of students that can get a particular grade.

Understanding the grading system

In 2017, a new 9 to 1 scoring system was introduced for the subjects English Literature, English Language and Maths, with 9 at the higher end and 1 at the lowest. 

Phasing in over the years, from 2019 the grading system was used on almost all of the subjects on the curriculum, including languages and sciences.

The new system is not being used in Wales, while Northern Ireland uses a mixture of the two systems. Ofqual has assured parents that children would not be disadvantaged by the change.

  • 9 = High A* grade
  • 8 = Lower A* or high A
  • 7 = Lower A grade
  • 6 = High B grade
  • 5 = Lower B or high C
  • 4 = Lower C grade
  • 3 = D or high E
  • 2 = Lower E or high F
  • 1 = Lower F or G
  • U = Remains the same
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GCSE results are in: What next?

You'll be able to go into Further Education if you have five or more GCSEs at grade 4 or above. Many sixth-forms and colleges do expect at least four grades, but some schools may take pupils with lower grades, so it's worth giving them a call to check.

If you're unhappy with your results you can resit your GCSEs and these will take place in the school, college or exam centre where you sat the original exam. If you get a higher grade the second time around, you can ask the exam board to provide a new GCSE certificate.

In related news, we've revealed when kids go back to school after the summer holidays, and put together a list of the best back-to-school buys for 2023. We've got the details on some of the best school shoes too.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.