A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Exams and assessment FAQs

The awarding organisation responsible for assessment of Twenty First Century Science is OCR and all inquiries should be directed to them. For links to useful pages on the OCR website see the Assessment page.

How are the courses assessed?

Are practice papers available?

How can we prepare GCSE Science students for the Unit 4 (Ideas in context) exam? 

Will separate grades be awarded for each course?

Can a candidate sit different exams at different tiers?

Is the GCSE Science course suitable for post-16 students wanting to improve their science GCSE grade?

What is in the OCR teacher guides? Where can I find these?

Do students taking the triple award sit normal exams for GCSE Science and Additional Science, then extra exams for individual sciences?

Are physics equations given in the exam questions, or do we have to learn them?


How are the courses assessed?

For each course you should refer to the specification for assessment details. Links to the 2011 specification for each course can be found on the Assessment page of this website.

You should be aware of the latest changes to assessment which will affect candidates who start a two year course in September 2012, or who start a three year course in September 2011. Information about these changes can be found on the OCR website.


Are practice papers available?

Sample assessment materials for all Twenty First Century Science courses are available on the OCR website.

Follow the appropriate course link from the Assessment page, then click 'View all documents' and scroll down to 'Assessment materials'. 


How can we prepare GCSE Science students for the Unit 4 (Ideas in context) exam?

This question and answer only applies to the 2006 specification.

Unit 4 has three questions, one each of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Each question relates to one of the GCSE Science modules. Different question types are shown in the Sample Assessment Material for Unit 4 on the OCR website.

OCR will post out the pre-release (stimulus) material for these questions mid-March. Centres should receive it before Easter.

After Easter, you could do one week of preparation as a department, rotating students around Biology, Chemistry and Physics specialists if you use them, or if not, one lesson on each subject area.

Here are some suggestions. You may have other ideas.

  • Do a brief revision session on the module, using media headlines (contemporary if relevant) and images from the OUP iPack, to set the mood. Read through OCR's stimulus material and build up a spider diagram of key concepts related to this - either as class, or students working in groups using the textbook to help them.
  • Question-spotting - each group comes up with two questions they could ask about the article - one a Science Explanation and one an Idea About Science. (The OUP Revision Guide might also be useful here, to generate ideas.)
  • Go through the students' questions, then ask each group to come up with another two ... and so on, until you've exhausted it.

The teacher might have pre-prepared a list of, say, twelve questions. You could make this into a game - can the class get all questions on the teachers' list? (Be reasonably flexible about actual wording of questions - accept any question based on the same idea.)

Remind your students that Unit 4 questions can be from any Idea about Science (IaS), not necessarily just the ones studied in each particular module, although these are by far the most obvious ones. For example, it is possible to assess IaS1 'Data' in a question about B1 'You and your genes', even though IaS1 is not explicitly taught in B1).

For weaker students, you might not push this last point. Focus them on just the Ideas about Science in the three modules that the stimulus material indicates.


Will separate grades be awarded for each course?

Yes. Candidates will be graded separately for GCSE Science, GCSE Additional Science, and GCSE Additional Applied Science.

A candidate taking GCSE Science + GCSE Additional Science, for example, might end up with two different grades.

For more infromation follow the links from the Assessment page of this website to useful pages on the OCR website.


Can a candidate sit different exams at different tiers of entry?

Yes. Teachers can choose Foundation or Higher level entry for each candidate depending on their achievement in the units which the targeted exam covers.

The final grade for a course is based upon the standardised marks carried forward from each examination and internally assessed skills tasks.

For more infromation follow the links from the Assessment page of this website to useful pages on the OCR website.


Is the GCSE Science course suitable for post-16 students wanting to improve their GCSE grade?

Our centres include a sixth-form college using the core GCSE Science course as a re-sit option. This is not because C21 GCSE Science is viewed as an easier option, but because it is a different and more engaging course.


What is in the OCR teacher guides? Where can I find these?

You can download these teacher guides from the OCR website. Follow the appropriate course link from the Assessment page, then click 'View all documents' and scroll down to 'Support materials'. 

Teachers' handbook

The teachers' handbook for the 2011 specification includes an overview of the changes since the 2006 specifications, guidance on transition to the new specifications, information on teaching and assessment, and sources of additional resources

Guide to controlled assessment 

This guide provides information for teachers about how to manage controlled assessment. It includes guidance on preparing and managing controlled assessment tasks, task marking, and submitting work.


Do students taking the triple award sit the normal exams for GCSE Science and Additional Science, then extra exams for individual sciences?

Students on track for separate sciences (GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry, and GCSE Physics) must do exam papers in subject groups. That is, B1 B2 B3, C1 C2 C3, P1 P2 P3 etc. Students must not do mixed subject papers B1 C1 P1, B2 C2 P2, etc.

For information about controlled assessment requirements refer to the specifications. Follow the appropriate course link from the Assessment page.


Are physics equations given in the exam questions, or do we have to learn them?

Statements in the OCR specifications for Twenty First Century Science are usually phrased "use the equation ..." (not "recall the equation ...").

See the individual specification and sample assessment materials provided by OCR for more information. Most equations are given on a page at the beginning of each exam paper. Candidates must decide which equation is needed for a particular question, and how to use the equation. 

Links to the 2011 specification for each course can be found on the Assessment page of this website.