AN overhaul of GCSEs in England has been announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The drastic changes are to help pupils in England "compete with the best in the world".

From 2015, GCSEs will move from coursework to exams at the end of two years and will be graded from 8 to 1, rather than A* to G.

"We need to reform our examination system to restore public confidence," Mr Gove told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

From 2015, these changes will happen:

- Changes will initially be for nine core GCSE subjects

- Grading by numbers 8-1 rather than by the current letters A* to G

- No more modular courses, instead full exams taken at the end of two years

- Controlled assessments (coursework done under exam conditions) will be scrapped

- Exams to be based on a more stretching, essay-based system

- Pass mark to be pushed higher

Mr Gove told MPs that previous course specifications "were too vague" and had caused "suspicion and speculation that some exam boards were 'harder' than others".

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