Category Archive: Science
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When it comes to GCSE Science, secondary school students across the UK are faced with a tricky dilemma. They might not realise it, as a lot of schools make the choice for you, but they have been earmarked for sitting either the ‘Combined’ or ‘Triple’ course (and on rare occasions even a single science option) – often before they are even in Year 10. So, what is the difference between combined science and triple science? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that unlike the content delivered in both, understanding the key differences is a piece of cake!
It’s All In The Name
Essentially, the ‘Combined’ science GCSE course is worth 2 GCSEs and covers all three sciences – that’s Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Students who study the Combined course can be entered for either Foundation or Higher. ‘Separate’ Sciences – also known as ‘Triple’ – also cover all three disciplines, but the critical differential here is that this course is worth a whopping 3 GCSEs, rather than 2. Most Triple students will take Higher but it’s worth noting that entrants can be put in for the Foundation equivalent… although this isn’t very common!
But that isn’t the only difference. As you would expect, being worth an additional GCSE comes with its fair share of extra work – as you’ll soon see…
A Case Study
For example, both the AQA version of the Chemistry Combined and Triple courses have a module called “Organic Chemistry” (this is the study of Carbon-based molecules – “riveting”, I hear you say…) and whilst it may therefore appear that both courses have duplicate modules, it isn’t quite the case.
There are certainly similarities between the modules on both courses, but if you scan through the exam specifications for both and compare, you’ll find that whilst Combined learners need to learn about groups of molecules called ‘Alkanes’ and ‘Alkenes’, Triple students need to understand these as well as ‘Carboxylic Acids’, ‘Esters’ and ‘Alcohols’ (and no, the practical involved for this lesson does not involve chugging back some of the local pub’s inventory).
Which Course Is Right For Me?
Unfortunately, there is no set answer. However, there are some things to consider if you do get the option of deciding which course to take (or if you wish to go against the school’s advice and campaign to switch courses).
Firstly, it’s important to think about it from a practical standpoint. What would an extra GCSE in Science mean to you? Is it a case of vanity or pride making you want to have more GCSEs than your peers? Just think – your GCSE grades unlock the doors towards your chosen Post-16 courses. And whilst it’s fantastic to want to push ourselves, it’s important that we don’t bite off more than we can chew if it’s going to be too much of a struggle.
Secondly, are you looking to take Science at A-Level? If you are, then this is a solid argument for wanting to select the Triple option. As previously discussed, the Triple Science course delves into more detail and teaches you little nuggets that the Combined simply won’t cover. If you went into your A-Level class as one of only a handful who had taken the Combined option, you may find yourself playing catch-up before the course has even begun!
And lastly – and this is certainly worth considering – do you enjoy Science? If you do, then it makes sense to want to learn more about something you are naturally passionate about. But if you don’t, then trust us, doing extra work towards something you aren’t particularly fond of will certainly feel like a drain in the long run.
Now you know the answer to ‘what is the difference between combined science and triple science?’. What Next?
The advice is simple – if you’re still unsure which route to go down, speak with the Science teachers at school. They’ll be best placed to advise you as an individual since they have data and first-hand experience to back up their suggestions.
If you want a second opinion, a general chat to answer any pressing questions about what’s been covered here, or if you’d like a bit of extra support with studying Science at GCSE – please feel free to get in touch and the team at TutorRight will be more than happy to help!
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In England GCSEs are now graded using a numerical system running from 9-1, rather than A* to G – a system that had been in place since GCSE Grades replaced the old ‘O’ Levels in the late 80s. This has caused – for parents and students alike – a fair amount of confusion. Many ask questions, such as: What do these numbers mean? What is a Grade 9 equivalent to? What is a pass at GCSE?
But, have no fear… TutorRight are here to answer all these questions and more with our handy guide ‘GCSE Grades Explained: A guide for parents and students’.
So, without further ado, let’s get explaining…
When and why were GCSE grades changed?
Before we get started, it makes sense first to explain when and why the GCSE grades were changed.
The new numerical grading was introduced as part of a wider curriculum overhaul carried out by the Conservative government in 2014 by the then-Education Secretary, Michael Gove. It was perceived that too much emphasis had been placed on GCSE coursework. The reformed examination system sought to make the GCSEs more challenging and to make almost all subjects assessed by final exams taken after two years of study. This replaced the old model of assessment which favoured regular assessments through a series of modules.
It was argued that the new numerical scale recognised “more clearly the achievements of high-attaining students.” This is because the additional grades created allow for greater differentiation. Essentially, students can now gain ‘higher’ levels of each grade, instead of simply a standard grade. All exams now contain more extended writing, essay-style questions. It was also explained that the move to numbered grades would make it clear to employers that students had taken the more challenging GCSE.
The new reformed GCSEs were introduced gradually between 2017 and 2019, beginning with English and Maths. By 2020, all GCSEs had adopted the new number graded system.
What are the new grades?
The highest grade is now 9, with 1 being the lowest. The U grade, meaning “ungraded”, remains the same.
The number scale is not directly equivalent to the old letter one. However, the two scales do meet in certain places:
- the bottom of the new grade 7 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade A;
- the bottom of the new grade 4 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade C;
- the bottom of new grade 1 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade G;
- three of the new number grades – 9, 8 and 7 – correspond to the two previous top old grades of A* and A.
What do pupils need to pass their exams?
A grade 4 is a standard pass and a 5 is a ‘strong’ pass. Technically, a student who gets all grade 4s has passed all their exams. However, school league tables are based on the percentage of pupils who achieve a grade 5 or above in English and Maths. Also, bear in mind that many sixth forms and colleges will ask for 5s in certain subjects as an entry requirement – although this varies, and most schools and colleges are quite flexible.
What is a GCSE Point Score?
You may have also heard about something called a ‘GCSE Point Score’. Again, like league tables, these are more of a concern for school leaders than individual students, as they are measurements the government uses to judge schools by. However, just so you know, your GCSE Point Score is basically your average grade over all your GCSEs. So, if you took 10 GCSEs and achieved a Grade 8, 5 Grade 7s; 2 Grade 6s, and 2 Grade 5s, your average point score would be 6.5. With a Grade 5 being a ‘strong’ pass, any point score above 5 would be considered strong.
Finally – in old money – a Grade 7 is the equivalent of a Grade A. A Grade 6 is just above an old Grade B. Grade 5 is between a B and a C; and Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.
Get in touch if you’d like a tutor to help your child reach their GCSE potential.