Education Secretary Michael Gove plans to scrap GCSEs for England and return to O-level style exams.
Sources have told the BBC that Mr Gove believes GCSEs "have gone beyond the point of rescue".
Andrew Haldenby, director of the Reform think tank, believes that GCSEs "certainly have devalued and the government is right to look into an alternative".
Exams boards should work with subject leaders in universities and schools, rather than the government, he said.
Former education secretary Lord Baker, said it is important to ensure that the subjects not included in a new exam "don't become second class area of poor performance".
"There needs to be rigour for the other subjects," he told Jim Naughtie.
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