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Science: GCSE exams and controlled assessment

GCSE Science exams- Tiers of Entry & “UMS” (for Year 11 2016 only)

No matter which route, “Triple” or “Double”, students in Key Stage 4 are following modular science courses that are taught in Biology, Chemistry and Physics lessons. In each science students will take module papers and complete a controlled assessment unit that will be added together to make ONE SCIENCE GCSE.

Each paper is given a score on a uniform mark scale (UMS). For students taking “Foundation” tier papers, the maximum mark per paper on this scale is 69. For the “Higher” Tier the maximum mark per paper is 100.

Foundation papers ask questions in a more straightforward way meaning that taking these papers generally gives a greater chance of achieving a desired mark. Although the exams are ‘capped’ at a maximum of a grade ‘C’, a ‘B’ grade is still possible if the mark in the controlled assessment component (see next page) is high enough.

At the end of each course, the four marks are added together to give a final score which is then converted to a grade in GCSE Science A, Additional Science or Further Additional Science.  The table below summarises the grade boundaries.

 

Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks

Each Foundation paper

Each

Higher paper

Centre-assessed unit

GCSE Award

Weighting

25%

25%

25%

100%

Max Uniform mark

69

100

100

400

A*

-

90

90

360

A

-

80

80

320

B

-

70

70

280

C

60

60

60

240

D

50

50

50

200

E

40

-

40

160

F

30

-

30

120

G

20

-

20

80

 

A mixture of different tiers can be taken for the different science subjects to construct the final mark. This potentially allows a student with a weakness in one strand of Science to minimise the effect on the overall mark by taking the Foundation paper in that area only.

The science department will suggest the most suitable tier for each student in the Spring term for each subject area. This recommendation is the expert opinion of subject leaders and teachers to maximise the UMS mark achieved in a particular area in order to benefit the overall score out of 400.

The intention is not to limit ambition- we will consider all opinions when making a final decision, although we expect all students to be realistic concerning their own abilities based on past performances.

GCSE Controlled Assessment (for Year 11 2016 only)

 AQA GCSE Sciences:
Science A, Additional Science & Further Additional Science


The controlled assessments in Science are practical investigations that have been set by the exam board, AQA. Controlled assessment counts for 25% of the terminal grade. Each controlled assessment is carried out under supervision in the lab over about 4 hours.

 For the Science A (Year 10) & Additional Science (Year 11) GCSEs there will be a controlled assessment in at least 2 areas from Biology, Chemistry or Physics. Only the best mark will count.

Students who have opted to study Triple Science will complete at least one controlled assessment in Year 11 covering the Additional Science ideas only, followed by at least one controlled assessment covering GCSE Further Additional Science. Again, in each Science if more than one mark exists for a subject, only the better mark counts. For triple students that are performing below target there will be the opportunity to opt to take extra ISA’s outside of normal curriculum time.

Most of the activities will occur during curriculum time. Specifically, each controlled assessment will consist of: 

  1. Hypothesis – where students read and follow a testable statement and make predictions. In year 11, students are required to construct their own.
  2. Planning – students research a suitable technique using secondary sources, highlight variables (independent, dependent and control), draw diagrams, write equipment lists, carry out risk assessments, compose a method and plant to collect data that has repeats, proper range and suitable intervals. Students may take their planning sheet in to the written exams
  3. Drawing a blank results table – students construct a table with at least 2 columns headed with suitable quantities and units for the investigation being carried out
  4. Written exam (section 1) – based on students’ planning; set by the exam board, marked by Knights Templar staff
  5. Obtaining evidence – students carry out practical work, gather and tabulate data in small groups
  6. Plotting a graph – students use gathered data to decide upon a suitable type of graph to draw that has linear scales, LOBF and is labeled with quantities and units
  7. Written exam (section 2) – analysis, evaluation and possible uses of students’ findings and data from ‘case studies’ provided by the board; this is set by the exam board and marked by Knights templar staff

Parts 3, 4, 6 and 7 are carried out under controlled, i.e. exam, conditions

Please help us in instilling in your child an understanding of how important these assessments are and hence the need to take them seriously and behave accordingly. They are public exams. Crucial to success in these controlled assessments is the correct understanding and use of the Science specific terminology. Also help your child to learn the definitions of the key words and phrases. You may download specimen papers, a glossary and exemplar material at http://www.sciencelab.org.uk/.

Mr B Chantrell
Head of Science