Important information about GCSE Science

We thought it would be helpful to share a document that Ofqual published on their website in May:

GCSEs and A levels in Summer 2012: Our approach to setting and maintaining standards.

This document explains how grades will be awarded for GCSEs and A-levels this summer. We would particularly like to draw your attention to the section on science, below, as there are some important changes this year that you need to be aware of:

The new syllabuses for the suite of science subjects were designed to be more challenging and to discriminate more effectively between candidates of different ability levels. This was in response to concerns reported by Ofqual in 2009 that the previous syllabuses didn't adequately test the subject content and weren't sufficiently demanding. This meant that students achieving higher grades didn't show the level of performance expected, as set out in the grade descriptions. To address these concerns, the new exams contain a wider range of question types, including questions which require extended writing.

Our expectation has always been that students will have to perform at a higher standard on the new exams to achieve the same grades as students in previous years, particularly at the higher grades. Therefore we are not aiming for comparable outcomes in the new GCSE science awards this summer. We do expect the grade standards to be comparable across exam boards in the new GCSE science in summer 2012, and we have been working with them to achieve this. We will require exam boards to set their grade standards so that candidates achieving the higher grades demonstrate the knowledge, skills and understanding set out in the grade descriptions.

If you have any questions regarding this announcement please speak to our Science subject team on 01483 477 756 or email