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Understanding GCSE Core Science – Part 1

Understanding ‘How Science Works’ – as in how the combination of science GCSE specifications interlink – is almost worth a GCSE in itself!

The way Science is examined at GCSE level has become horrendously complicated with numerous choices of exam boards, variations of syllabuses within and between exam boards, and choices of when to take tests. In summary, students take Core and/or Additional Science (previously known as single or double awards respectively) or separate sciences (ie Biology, Chemistry, Physics – previously known as ‘triple’ award).

Courses do share common themes. In this post we’re going to discuss Core Science, but we’ll talk about GCSE Additional Science and separate GCSE sciences in later posts. Hopefully this guide will be useful for parents of students currently in Year 10 and for parents of secondary age children in Years 8 and 9 who about to decide on options. Please feel welcome to call us if you’d like further explanation and we will do our best to try to make everything clearer!

Understanding the structure of GCSE Core Science (a.k.a. “Science”) specifications

Core Science is a GCSE in its own right – it is also sometimes known by its older classification, single award science. The Core Science course also forms a part of the course for students taking ‘triple’ science Biology and/or Chemistry and/or Physics.

Most students study for the Core Science GCSE in Year 10, though less able students study the modules at a slower pace and over the 2-year period through Year 10 and Year 11. This is a very general GCSE that covers the key scientific ideas that students are required to learn at GCSE.

Core science can be taken as a series of module tests – variations between exam boards exist so it is important to find and follow the correct syllabus. All syllabuses contain modules for Biology, Chemistry and Physics and can be taken at either Higher Tier (grades D-A*) of Foundation Tier (grades G-C). Most syllabuses allow a combination of tiers to be taken. A student may, for example, be struggling with Chemistry but be OK with Biology and Physics and therefore sit for Higher tier in Biology and Physics, but foundation tier for the Chemistry.

Be warned, working out the marks is complicated – raw marks become “UMS” marks that get aggregated to give a final grade. Most students get an idea of the grade they are working towards, what they need to achieve and so on, so as parents let’s not worry too much for now; the main thing is to get to grips with when your child may be taking their ‘real’ GCSE exams (some, especially in yr 10, haven’t quite realised these are the ‘real’ things!). That way you can help them prepare, and if necessary get them extra tuition!

In the next post we’ll look at the most common specifications in more detail. In the meantime, if you’d like to give your child a little extra help navigating the maze of GCSE Science – whether he or she is studying Core Science, Triple Award Science or one of the intermediate options – get in touch and ask us about the Science tutors we have available in Manchester.

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One Response to “Understanding GCSE Core Science – Part 1”

  1. Irish says:

    Wow! Great thginkni! JK

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