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GCSE Science - BBC Bitesize
What to do next For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service. What to do next For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit. What to do next For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani accessni. Under the new scheme, all GCSE subjects were revised between and , and all new awards will be on the new scheme by summer The new qualifications are designed such that most exams will be taken at the end of a full 2-year course, with no interim modular assessment, coursework, or controlled assessment, except where necessary such as in the arts.
Some subjects will retain coursework on a non-assessed basis, with the completion of certain experiments in science subjects being assumed in examinations, and teacher reporting of spoken language participation for English GCSEs as a separate report. Other changes include the move to a numerical grading system, to differentiate the new qualifications from the old-style letter-graded GCSEs, publication of core content requirements for all subjects, and an increase in longer, essay-style questions to challenge students more. Alongside this, a variety of low-uptake qualifications and qualifications with significant overlap will cease, with their content being removed from the GCSE options, or incorporated into similar qualifications.
GCSE examinations in English and mathematics were reformed with the syllabus publications, with these first examinations taking places in The remainder were reformed with the and syllabus publications, leading to first awards in and , respectively. Qualifications that are not reformed will cease to be available in England.
The science reforms, in particular, mean that single-award "science" and "additional science" options are no longer available, being replaced with a double award "combined science" option graded on the scale to and equivalent to 2 GCSEs. Alternatively, students can take separate qualifications in chemistry, biology, and physics. Other removed qualifications include a variety of design technology subjects, which are reformed into a single "design and technology" subject with multiple options, and various catering and nutrition qualifications, which are folded into "food technology".
Finally, several "umbrella" GCSEs such as "humanities", "performing arts", and "expressive arts" are dissolved, with those wishing to study those subjects needing to take separate qualifications in the incorporated subjects. However, due to legislative requirements for comparability between GCSEs in the three countries, and allowances for certain subjects and qualifications to be available in Wales and Northern Ireland, some qualifications will be available, and the other changes are mostly adopted in these countries as well.
GCSEs in Northern Ireland remain modular and science practicals can count towards the overall grade outcome. Historically, there were a variety of regional examination boards, or awarding organisations AOs , who set examinations in their area. Over time, as deregulation allowed schools to choose which boards to use, mergers and closures led to only 5 examination boards remaining today. CCEA qualifications are not available in England. However, some qualifications from the English boards are available as designated qualifications in some circumstances, due to not being available from WJEC.
Most qualifications from the English boards are also available, with the exception of English language and the sciences, due to requirements for speaking and practical assessment, respectively.
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The exact qualifications taken by students vary from school to school and student to student, but schools are encouraged to offer at least one pathway that leads to qualification for the English Baccalaureate , requiring GCSEs in English language, English literature, mathematics, 2 science GCSEs, a modern or ancient language, and either history or geography. The list of currently available GCSE subjects is much shorter than before the reforms, as the new qualifications in England all have core requirements set by the regulator, Ofqual, for each subject.
In addition, there are several subjects where only one board offers qualifications, including some that are only available in one country of the UK for that reason. The following lists are sourced from the exam board websites. These are the requirements for achieving the English Baccalaureate headline measure in league tables, from onwards. Other subjects, especially religious studies, computer science, or physical education, may be compulsory in some schools as these subjects form part of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4. These two levels roughly correspond, respectively, to foundation and higher tier in tiered GCSE qualifications.
The tiering of qualifications allows a subset of grades to be reached in a specific tier's paper. Formerly, many subjects were tiered, but with the mids reform, the number of tiered subjects reduced dramatically, including the removal of tiering from the GCSE English specifications. Untiered papers allow any grade to be achieved. Coursework and controlled assessment tasks are always untiered. In the past, mathematics qualifications offered a different set of tiers, with three. This eventually changed to match the tiers in all other GCSE qualifications.
When GCSEs were first introduced in , they were graded on a letter scale in each subject: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G being pass grades, with a U unclassified grade below that which did not qualify the student for a certificate. These grades were initially set such that a GCSE grade C was equivalent to an O-Level grade C or a CSE grade 1, though changes in marking criteria and boundaries over the years mean that this comparison is only approximate.
Infrequently, X and Q grades are awarded. X indicates that a course was not completed in full, and therefore an appropriate grade cannot be calculated. The Q query grade is a temporary grade that requires the school to contact the examining body. These latter two grades are both usually provisional, and are replaced with a regular grade once any issues have been resolved. X grades are also sometimes used for other purposes, on rare occasions, such as to indicate that an examiner found offensive material or hate speech within a student's responses.
In some cases, this may lead to the student losing all marks for that paper or course. These grades are most common in subjects which discuss ethical issues, such as biology, religious studies, and citizenship.
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In foundation tier papers, the student can obtain a maximum grade of a C, while in a higher tier paper, they can achieve a minimum grade of a D. If a higher tier candidate misses the D grade by a small margin, they are awarded an E. Otherwise, the grade below E in these papers is U.
In untiered papers, students can achieve any grade in the scheme. This scheme is being phased out in England, but remains in Wales and Northern Ireland. From in England and in Wales and Northern Ireland on qualifications from the English-based awarding bodies , most GCSEs are now assessed on a 9-point scale, using numbers from 9 to 1, and, like before, a U unclassified grade for achievement below the minimum pass mark. The former C grade is set at grade 4 and the lower end of grade 5, with grade 5 being considered a "good pass" under the new scheme.
Although fewer qualifications have tiered examinations than before, the tiering system still exists. At foundation tier, the grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are available, while at higher tier, the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are targeted.
Once again, if a higher tier student misses the grade 4 mark by a small margin, they are awarded a grade 3. Controlled assessment and coursework tasks are untiered. The youngest person known to have achieved a grade 9 is Ellie Barnes who achieved the grade in Mathematics aged 8 years old.
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GCSE results are published by the examination board in August, for the previous exam series in April to June of the same year. They are usually released one week after the A-Level results, on the fourth Thursday of August. The examination results are released to centres schools prior to the release to candidates and the public. Some boards and schools release results online, although many still require students to attend in person to collect their results from the centre they sat exams at.
In England, these results then go on to inform league tables published in the following academic year, with headline performance metrics for each school. This allowed for students to take some units of a GCSE before the final examination series, and thus gave indication of progress and ability at various stages, as well as allowing for students to resit exams in which they did not score as highly, in order to boost their grade, before receiving the qualification.
Various qualifications were available as both modular and linear schemes, and schools could choose whichever fit best for them. Under the Conservative government of David Cameron, and Education Secretary Michael Gove, reforms were initiated which converted all GCSEs from for assessment from to de facto linear schemes, in advance of the introduction of new specifications between and for first assessment from to Both modular and linear assessment have been politically contentious, and the opposition Labour Party UK , and particularly the former MP Tristram Hunt stated that it was their policy that such reforms be halted and reversed, maintaining modular assessment in both GCSEs and A-Levels.
In some subjects, one or more controlled assessment or coursework assignments may also be completed.
These may contribute either a small or large proportion of the final grade. In practical and performance subjects, they generally have a heavier weighting to reflect the difficulty and potential unfairness of conducting examinations in these areas. In the past, these were available in a variety of subjects, including extended writing in English, the sciences, business, and foreign languages; practical assessment in the sciences and technology subjects; and speaking assessments in languages.
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