Having received a wide range of feedback from teachers, we have put together some points to consider when entering students for Foundation or Higher tier.
Sample assessment material , including the Year 10 and 11 practice papers, can be used to determine whether students should be entered for Foundation or Higher.
ExamBuilder is a free online tool, which allows you to create your own mocks. Covering both the reformed Twenty First Century and Gateway Suites for GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Combined Science - it draws on past papers from the 2013 to 2016 series.
Exambuilder is well aligned to the new specification, so it could be used to produce further assessments. It also gives access to examiner reports, on questions chosen, which is useful in showing students how to gain the highest marks possible. http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/past-papers/exambuilder/
Here is how the papers for the new Science qualifications are designed:
Separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics): Two papers per qualification, each worth 90 marks and 1 hour 45 minutes in length.
Combined Science: Six papers, each worth 60 marks and 1 hour 10 minutes in length.
As exam papers are now longer, another consideration could be how will students cope with longer papers below is the breakdown of each paper and their respective marks.
The new structure of Twenty First Century Science papers:
Separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics): Two papers (Breadth and Depth) per qualification, both worth 90 marks and 1 hour 45 minutes in length.
Combined Science: Four papers, three worth 95 marks and 1 hour 45 minutes in length, and the final paper worth 75 marks and 1 hour 45 minutes in length.
With such a large part on the exam focusing on maths skills (Biology 10%, Chemistry 20%, Physics 30% and Combined Science 20%), it could be beneficial to speak to students’ maths teachers to understand the level they are currently at in order to make a judgement on which tier they should be entered for in Science.
The Mathematical Skills Handbook is a teacher guide to all of the mathematical skills in the GCSE Science qualifications. The handbook provides students with the opportunity to practice and develop their maths skills.
For each skill, there is a student test and a self-assessment sheet. This allows students to track their progress and prepare for their exams.
With 15% of questions in the exam papers, it is essential to take into consideration students’ practical skills and their ability to apply these when answering questions.
Practical work should be an integrated part of the teaching and learning of the new qualifications.
The assessment objectives (AO for short) form the basis of the types of questions asked in the exams.
The new specifications have a shift in weighting from AO3 to AO1, and inclusion of scientific techniques and procedures throughout all AOs.
In the exam papers, 40% of questions cover AO2. Students need to apply their knowledge and understanding to answer these questions. Open-book tests can be useful to assess students’ ability to answer these types of questions.
There is one level of response question in each of the Gateway papers and two in the Depth paper for Twenty First Century Science.
We created a resource which outlines how students can gain the most marks in these questions. The resource contains a sample assessment exam question, mark scheme and sample answers. Students use the mark scheme to mark each sample answer. After this, they are asked to use everything they have learnt from marking activity to answer the question themselves.
We are here to help and can offer advice and support at Science Network Meetings and online Q&A webinar sessions.
To keep up to date with new resources and information, click Join the Science Group to sign up to our online Science teacher community
If you would like to get in touch you can email us your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also phone us: 01223 553998 or follow us and send your tweets to @OCR_Science
Sarah Milne - Subject Advisor
Sarah joined OCR in August 2017 as a Subject Advisor for GCSE Science. Before joining OCR, she worked as a Biology and Science teacher in Edinburgh and Norfolk. In her spare time she enjoys running, horse riding and travelling.