Understanding GCSE Core Science – Part 2

In our previous post we looked at the basic structure of GCSE Core Science. To give you child the best possible support during his or her Core Science studies, it’s worth understanding exactly how it all works in detail.

The most important thing is to establish the exact specification your child is following. Most of our students, based in Manchester and Cheshire, take one of the following: AQA Science A or Science B, OCR Gateway or 21st Century Science or Edexcel Science. Summaries of each course are listed below.

AQA Science
The AQA Core Science course can follow two separate routes – both cover identical content, but the objective test route splits the content and tests into smaller pieces.

Science A – objective test route (multi-choice); 6 separate tests (x2 biology, x2 chemistry, x2 physics), each worth 12.5% of the total mark. Tests can be sat in any order/combination (schools decide the order in which modules are studied and when the tests are sat). Tests are at various times throughout the year – November, March, June. Tests can be re-sat to improve marks – the maximum mark is used to determine final grade.

Science B – written test route; 3 separate written tests (x1 Biology, x1 Chemistry, x1 Physics) sat in either January or June, again in any order and can be re-sat. Each tests accounts for 25% of the total marks.

• Both routes also have a practical element (“ISA”) worth 25% of the total marks.

• Both routes allow the student to choose between higher and foundation tiers, with a combination of tiers also permitted.

OCR Science
The OCR course follows one of 2 routes; either the 21st Century (Science A) or Gateway (Science B):

OCR 21st Century Science – Science A (J630)
There are 9 teaching modules (x3 Biology, x3 Chemistry, x3 Physics) tested as 5 units. Students sit either Foundation (grades G-C) or Higher tiers (grades D-A*).

• Unit 1 – Biology B1, Chemistry C1 and Physics P1 – 16.7% of final marks. Almost always sat first in January.

• Unit 2 – Biology B2, Chemistry C2 and Physics P2 – 16.7% of final marks. Sittings in January and June.

• Unit 3 – Biology B3, Chemistry C3 and Physics P3 – 16.7% of final marks. Sittings in January and June.

• Unit 4 – ideas in context – 16.7% of final marks.

• Unit 5 – practical element – data analysis (13.3%) and case study (20%).

OCR Gateway Science – Science B (J640)
There are 6 teaching modules (x2 Biology, x2 Chemistry, x2 Physics) tested in 2 units. Students sit either Foundation (grades G-C) or Higher tiers (grades D-A*).

• Unit 1 – Biology B1, Chemistry C1 and Physics P1 – almost always sat first in January.

• Unit 2 – Biology B2, Chemistry C2 and Physics P2 – sittings in January and June.

• Unit 3 – ‘Can do’ tasks and report on science in the news – no set date/exam for this, assessed/moderated at school.

Each unit contributes 33⅓% of total marks. Re-sits are possible, with best grades being used to determine final grade.

Edexcel Science
There are 6 teaching modules (x2 Biology, x2 Chemistry, x2 Physics) tested in 6 units. Students sit either Foundation (grades G-C) or Higher tiers (grades D-A*).

• Students sit 6 multi-choice unit tests (x2 Biology, x2 Chemistry, x2 Physics). Each worth 10% of the final marks.

• Tests can be sat in any order/combination [schools decide the order in which modules are studied and when the tests are sat]. Tests are at various times throughout the year – November, March, June. Tests can be re-sat to improve marks – maximum mark used to determine final grade.

• Practical assessment – practical skills (10%), Biology activity (10%), Chemistry activity (10%), Physics activity (10%).

GCSE Science Changes for 2011
Note that GCSE sciences will change slightly in 2011. This will affect children currently in year 8. The changes to core science appear to be minimal; content seems unlikely to change much, though the number of re-sits allowed will be limited. The structure of the science suite of exams doesn’t appear to be changing much – Applied science will no longer be available, but none of our students have taken it so this doesn’t seem to affect many.

If you live in Manchester or Cheshire, and you’d like help understanding the GCSE Core Science specifications and possibly some expert tuition for your child, get in touch for a chat.

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Understanding GCSE Core Science – Part 2”

  1. what is physics…

    […]Understanding GCSE Core Science – Part 2[…]…

Leave a Reply