Our GCSE science experts answer your questions

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Our Head of Curriculum for Science – Julian Clarke – shares his expertise to answer the questions you’ve been asking us this month.

We’ve got your back – every step of the way.

In February 2018, you asked us...

What should my students expect from the new GCSE science extended questions?

The new GCSE extended-response questions will test your students’ ability to apply their scientific knowledge in a logical, structured way. They are worth 4–6 marks.

Students must communicate scientific ideas clearly, through longer written answers or multi-step calculations. They may also be asked to link topics across different areas of the specification.

Practical advice for answering extended questions

  • Each answer should show a clear and sustained line of reasoning.
  • Extended questions use a consistent set of command words across the GCSE papers. These are: calculate, determine, compare, describe, design/plan, evaluate and explain. Make sure your students are familiar with these.
  • Students shouldn’t simply write down everything they know – encourage them to read the question carefully and to make sure they understand it.
  • It’s fine to use bullet points – as long as they work as a part of a full, structured answer.
  • The papers are designed to include enough space so extra paper shouldn’t be needed. On average, we allocate two lines per mark.
  • Tables and diagrams can be used if the question refers to them, and if they make sense in context.

Levels of response mark scheme for extended questions

Extended questions will be marked using a levels of response mark scheme. This is a holistic approach to marking which takes into account the many ways a student can correctly answer a given extended question. As with all our mark schemes, it is designed to make sure students are credited with the maximum marks possible for their answers.

There are two steps to marking an extended question.

  1. Firstly, the level is determined according to what are known as generic descriptors. This reflects the overall quality of the answer.
  2. Secondly, the specific indicative content for the question is assessed to give the exact mark within the level.

To make sure marking is clear and consistent, level descriptors are generic and are linked to specific command words, which are used across all our GCSE science specifications.

Spring hub school network meeting

Come along to your local spring hub school meeting where we’ll be looking at the level of response mark schemes in more detail.

You’ll also get the chance to have a go at marking some extended question responses, look at sample answers and examiner commentary and discuss what makes a good answer.

View spring 2018 meeting dates and book online >