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Key Stage 4

About GCSE Mathematics

In England

Students in state-funded schools and colleges in England are usually entered for the GCSE Mathematics qualification at the end of Key Stage 4.

GCSE Mathematics has a Foundation Tier (grades 1 – 5) and a Higher Tier (grades 4 – 9). It is offered in England by the following awarding bodies:

The Department for Education’s subject content and assessment objectives for GCSE in mathematics provides further details about the qualification.

In Wales

There are two maths GCSE qualifications available in Wales, both offered by WJEC: GCSE Mathematics, and GCSE Mathematics Numeracy. Each has three tiers: Higher Tier: Grades A* – C; Intermediate Tier: Grades B – E; Foundation Tier: Grades D – G.

In Northern Ireland

GCSE Mathematics in Northern Ireland is offered by CCEA. There are two tiers: Foundation and Higher. Grades range from A* – G, with A* being the highest.


The IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) is equivalent to GCSE. It’s available internationally and is also used by some UK schools and colleges.

Other maths qualifications suitable for KS4

In England

There are several other maths qualifications that some schools and colleges offer that can be taken alongside, or in addition to, GCSE Mathematics in England:

This certificate, offered by AQA, provides an introduction to the maths studied in AS/A level Mathematics. It’s designed to stretch and challenge high achieving mathematicians who are expected to achieve top grades in GCSE Mathematics.

This certificate, offered by Eduqas, is designed to stretch the most able candidates for GCSE Mathematics and to strengthen the formal techniques needed for further study of maths.

This GCSE focuses on how statistics are used in real life, and it’s particularly useful in preparing students taking A levels in subjects that involve handling data and interpreting statistics, such as psychology. It’s offered by AQA and Edexcel.

This Free Standing Mathematics Qualification (FSMQ) is offered by OCR. It provides an introduction to the maths studied in AS/A level Mathematics and is designed to provide enrichment for students with a thorough knowledge of the content of Higher Tier GCSE Mathematics, ideally on track to achieve grades 7-9.

In Wales

The following alternative is available in Wales:

This certificate, offered by WJEC, is designed to stretch the most able candidates for GCSE Mathematics and to strengthen the formal techniques needed for further study of maths.

In Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland the options are:

This GCSE, offered by CCEA, encourages students to develop understanding of the basic concepts of statistical problem-solving and to develop skills in planning, collecting, processing, analysing and representing data.

This GCSE, offered by CCEA, is designed for students who require knowledge of mathematics beyond GCSE Higher Tier Mathematics and who are capable of working beyond the limits of the GCSE Mathematics specification.