It's reported that GCSEs are set to be scrapped and replaced by new, more rigorous O-levels.
The Daily Mail says it has seen leaked documents outlining the most radical overhaul of the school exams system for 30 years.
It says the Education Secretary Michael Gove will abolish the national curriculum in English secondary schools.
Among the proposals are:
- GCSEs disappear from schools within the next few years
- Pupils would begin studying for "explicitly harder" O-levels
- Requirement that pupils obtain five good GCSEs graded A* to C will be scrapped
- Pupils of lower academic standard will sit simpler exams, similar to the old CSEs
Under Michael Gove's proposals, pupils would begin studying for O-levels - covering traditional academic subjects such as English, maths, history, modern languages and the sciences - from September 2014.
One document states:
Pupils will begin sitting the new O-levels from 2016, with papers set by a single examination board to provide a single "gold standard" test across the country.
Less able pupils will sit simpler examinations similar to the old CSEs. They will include simpler tests in English and maths in order to provide them with "worthwhile" qualifications.
The goverment reportedly wants to reverse a "historic mistake" by the Tories in the 1980s when he believes the creation of GCSEs led to a collapse in academic standards.
The changes will see a return to individual examinations in physics, chemistry and biology instead of a single, combined science qualification.
Maths students will be expected to study complex subjects like calculus in order to get the top A grades, while English literature students will have to write longer essays and will not be allowed to take set texts into the exam room.
Mr Gove is said to be preparing to announce his plans formally in the next two weeks before launching a 12-week consultation.
None of the changes require legislation.
The Department for Education said: