Why choose this specification?

GCSE Science A introduces students to fundamental ideas in scientific theory and helps them learn practical skills through topical investigations.

It covers the same content as the Unit 1 of the single Science GCSEs for Biology, Chemistry and Physics – which allows for co-teaching.

It can be used for the Science component of the English Baccalaureate if grades A*- C are achieved in both Science A and GCSE Additional Science.

Comparing Science A and B

Science A and B cover the same subject matter for Key Stage 4, however, they approach it in two different ways.

  • Science A allows Biology, Chemistry and Physics to be taught and assessed separately with a pure science approach. It looks at theory and application.
  • Science B integrates the three disciplines to show how Science can be seen everywhere in real-world situations and puts Science in context, then looks at the theories.

Both courses encourage practical work and have the 'How Science Works' aspects of the curriculum integrated through all the units.

Science A can also be used to prepare students for separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, or be used for learners preparing for two Science GCSEs when followed by Additional Science.

Science B could also be followed by GCSE Additional Science or GCSE Additional Applied Science to lead on to respectively AS science courses or vocationally oriented Science courses.

Teachers like:

  • the fact that the course looks at Science widely but allows subject specialists to concentrate on their area of expertise
  • the fact it can be taught by any Science teachers
  • the fact that it inspires and challenges students, especially with the practical elements as it is based on real evidence
  • the skills students learn (eg creating a hypothesis and proving it with evidence) have a wider value
  • the fact that students taking only one Science GCSE get exposed to elements of the three core Science subjects rather than having to pick just one
  • that it follows on nicely from Key Stage 3 and creates a firm bridge to AS and A-levels
  • its flexibility, because of the overlaps with the single Science subjects.

Students like:

  • the interesting motivating practical work
  • learning about the core Science subjects separately as this helps them understand the key aspects of the different subjects
  • the broad range and variety of topics covered, especially as they can relate some aspects to the world they live in.

Knowledge/skills gained:

  • using knowledge and understanding to pose Scientific questions and define Scientific problems
  • planning and carrying out investigative activities, including appropriate risk management, in a range of contexts
  • collecting, selecting, processing, analysing and interpreting primary and secondary data to provide evidence
  • evaluating methodology, evidence and data
  • understanding the relationship between Science and society
  • developing communications skills in scientific contexts.

The two routes

A choice of two routes is offered to suit different ways of planning the curriculum, eg:

  • Route 1 could suit those teaching KS4 over three years to prepare students for separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics
  • Route 2 could enable centres to teach Biology, Chemistry and Physics concurrently throughout KS4 to learners preparing for two Science GCSEs.


    • Full details of practical work are included in the resources package
    • Full support for controlled assessment including step-by-step help and exemplar material.
    • Online support to help you plan, teach and assess the specification
    • Tools to help you plan your workload, create your own exam resources, check student progress and become consistent in marking
    • Enhanced Results Analysis to help you understand your students' strengths and weaknesses
    • Continuing professional development.


    Students have to enter all the assessment units at the end of the course, at the same time as they enter for the subject award. If students wish to re-sit exams they must re-sit all of the written papers in the next series.

    As a consequence of the move to linear assessment, students will be allowed to carry forward their controlled assessment unit result(s) following the initial moderation and aggregation during the lifetime of the specification.

    Overlap with other qualifications

    The Unit 1 content of each of GCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics is contained within GCSE Science A.

    GCSE Science A covers similar content to GCSE Science B and both cover the programme of study for Key Stage 4.

    Private candidates

    Private candidates must have their controlled assessment supervised and assessed at an AQA school/college. Please consult the information on our private candidates page.

    Follow-on study

    Students wanting to take double or triple Science pathways should also take Additional Science and then Further Additional Science.

    Science A provides a firm foundation for students to progress to AS and A-level Science if taken with GCSE Additional Science.