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Planning to switch to AQA?

Switching to AQA: from Edexcel

To save you time and help you compare our GCSE Physics with the Edexcel specification, we’ve created some comparison tables.

These tables highlight the content and requirements side by side, so you can make the right choice for your students.

Subject content

The subject content covered by all awarding bodies is fundamentally the same. This is due to the subject criteria designated by the Department for Education (DfE) was extensive and no awarding body felt there was a need to add greatly to this body of knowledge. There are slight differences where small amounts of detail have been added to certain concepts. By reading the specification statements it is quite easy to identify these points. The titles used for topics are different in each specification as is the order that they appear. A summary of this is shown in the assessment structure table.

Working scientifically

The working scientifically statements are part of the subject criteria set by the DfE so are the same for all awarding bodies. AQA have also given examples of what students could be asked to do in the exam for each skill (section 3 working scientifically).

AQA have mapped key opportunities for development of these skills throughout the subject content (section 4). These are suggestions and are a starting point for teachers to identify where best to introduce and develop these skills during the course.

Mathematical requirements

The mathematical statements are part of the subject criteria set by the DfE so are the same for all awarding bodies (AQA section 9). Key opportunities for development of these skills are mapped throughout the subject content in both specifications. It should be noted that this does not mean that this is where they will be exclusively assessed.

Physics equations

The physics equations are part of the subject criteria set by the DfE so are the same for all awarding bodies (AQA appendix B).

Required practical and apparatus and techniques

The apparatus and techniques are set by the DfE so these are common to all awarding bodies. The required practicals are designed to ensure that all the ATs are met. There are some differences to the required practicals we have used to address these ATs. The required practical titles are common between Combined Science and separate science. There are a number of extra practicals for the separate science to reflect differences in the DfE criteria for these different qualifications. The table below shows practicals for the titles of the RPs. The free practical handbooks are available on the website where full details of teacher technician notes and students worksheets can be found.

AQA – GCSE Physics

Edexcel – GCSE Physics

7. Investigate the effect of varying the force on the acceleration of an object of constant mass and the effect of varying the mass of an object on the acceleration produced by a constant force.

2.19 Investigate the relationship between force, mass and acceleration by varying the masses added to trolleys.

8. Make observations to identify the suitability of apparatus to measure the frequency, wavelength and speed of waves in a ripple tank and waves in a solid and take appropriate measurements.

4.17 Investigate the suitability of equipment to measure the speed, frequency and wavelength of a wave in a solid and a fluid.

9. (Physics only) Investigate the reflection of light by different types of surfaces and the refraction of light by different substances.

5.9 Investigate refraction in rectangular glass block in terms of the interaction of electromagnetic waves with matter.

10 Investigate how the amount of infrared radiation absorbed or radiated by a surface depends on the nature of that surface.

5.19P Investigate how the nature of a surface affects the amount of thermal energy radiated or absorbed.

3. Use circuit diagrams to set up and check appropriate circuits to investigate the factors affecting the resistance of electrical circuits.
This should include:

the length of a wire at constant temperature

combinations of resistors in series and parallel.

10.17 Construct electrical circuits to:

a. investigate the relationship between potential difference, current and resistance for a resistor and a filament lamp

b. test series and parallel circuits using resistors and filament lamps.

4. Use circuit diagrams to construct appropriate circuits to investigate the I–V characteristics of variety of circuit elements including a filament lamp, a diode and a resistor at constant temperature.

5. Use appropriate apparatus to make and record the measurements needed to determine the densities of regular and irregular solid objects and liquids. Volume should be determined from the dimensions of regularly shaped objects and by a displacement technique for irregularly shaped objects. Dimensions to

be measured using appropriate apparatus.

14.3 Investigate the densities of solid and liquids.

1. An investigation to determine the specific heat capacity of one or more materials. The investigation will involve linking the decrease of one energy store (or work done) to the increase in temperature and subsequent increase in thermal energy stored.

14.11 Investigate the properties of water by determining the specific heat capacity of water and obtaining a temperature-time graph for melting ice.

6. Investigate the relationship between force and extension for a spring.

15.6 Investigate the extension and work done when applying forces to a spring.

2. (Physics only) Investigate the effectiveness of different materials as thermal insulators and the factors that may affect the thermal insulation properties of a material.


Assessment structure

AQA – GCSE Physics

Edexcel – GCSE Physics

Students must complete all assessments in the same tier.

Students must complete all assessments in the same tier.

2 papers – 1 hour and 45 minutes

2 papers – 1 hour and 45 minutes

100 marks per paper. 200 marks in total

Sufficient marks on each paper to sample the content in enough detail for valid assessment throughout the course.

100 marks per paper. 200 marks in total

30% marks common between foundation and Higher.

This level of overlap allows us to be surer of the equivalence of standard across the common grades, and to be more confident in the awarding of these common grades.


Subject content comparison

Paper 1

AQA – Physics Paper 1

Edexcel – Physics Paper 1

Topic 1 – Key concepts in physics

Topic 1 – Energy

Topic 2 – Motion and forces

Topic 2 – Electricity

Topic 3 – Conservation of energy

Topic 3  – Particle model of matter

Topic 4 – Waves

Topic 4  – Atomic structure

Topic 5 – Light and the electromagnetic spectrum

Topic 6 – Radioactivity

Topic 7 – Astronomy

Paper 2

AQA – Physics Paper 2

Edexcel – Physics Paper 2

Knowledge of energy changes and transfer as well as the concept of energy conservation from topic 1 and 2

Topic 1 – Key concepts in physics

Topics 5 – Forces

Topic 8 – Energy forces doing work

Topic 6   – Waves

Topic 9 – Forces and their effects

Topic  7 – Magnetism and

Topic 10 – Electricity and circuits

Topic 8 – Space (Physics only)

Topic 11 – Static electricity

Topic 12 – Magnetism and the motor

Topic 13 – Electromagnetic induction

Topic 14 – Particle model

Topic 15 – Forces and matter

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