Chemistry at GCSE
The Separate Sciences (Chemistry, Biology and Physics) at GCSE level are intended to stretch and challenge those pupils hoping to follow a science career. Pupils choosing the GCSE Chemistry option will study the subject for four or five periods per week throughout years 11 and 12, taught by specialist teachers.
The course is currently assessed in three ways: an external written exam at the end of year 11 lasting 1hr30min comprising 35% of the final grade, another at the end of year 12 lasting 1hr45min comprising 40% of the final grade, and one controlled assessment task (CAT) completed during the course and marked by the teacher, contributing 25% of final grade.
The GCSE qualification is awarded on an eight grade scale A*–G, with A* being the highest. Candidates who fail to attain a grade G have their results reported as unclassified (U).The results of individual assessment units are reported on a uniform mark scale that reflects the assessment weighting of each unit.
The Chemistry course is divided into 3 units:
Unit 1: Structures, Trends, Chemical Reactions and Analysis
Students examine atomic structure, as well as bonding and larger structures. The main features of the Periodic Table are highlighted. Students use formulae, balanced symbol equations, ionic equations and observations to examine the chemistry of metals and metal compounds with acids. They are introduced to simple quantitative mass calculations. Students also experience tests for positive and negative ions and investigate solubility, experimentally and quantitatively.
Unit 2: Further Chemical Reactions, Organic Chemistry and Materials
This unit contains sections on the reactivity of metals and water. It also examines chemical change in terms of types of reactions, and introduces the chemistry of some non-metals. Organic chemistry focuses simply on four different homologous series, and titrations are included. The materials section examines sources of materials and methods of extracting metals from their ores.
Unit 3: Practical Skills
The acquisition and development of the skills needed for controlled assessment will form part of normal classroom teaching and learning, and time is taken at the end of year 11 and in the first half-term of Year 12 to complete the two Controlled Assessment Booklets. Each student plans and carries out one practical from a choice of two, in normal class time, then sits a one hour examination covering experimental methodology and data analysis. Teachers mark both Booklets and CCEA moderates the results.
If you intend to study any science at A-level, it is desirable to take Further Mathematics at GCSE. In fact, the knowledge and skills gained by following this course will greatly assist you when it comes to studying any A-level science.
A course based on this specification will help prepare students for the study of science subjects at a more advanced level, for example GCE AS and A2 Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Increasingly, Universities require prospective students of any science-based subject (including medicine, dentistry, etc.) to have studied all three sciences at GCSE level. For those progressing directly into employment, a science GCSE is relevant not only to the field of science but also to areas of commerce and public service that value problem-solving and practical skills.