Specifications that use this resource:

Planning to switch to AQA?

Switching to AQA: from OCR

To save you time and help you compare our GCSE Physics with the OCR Gateway Physics 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 because the DfE subject criteria were very specific and 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 skills 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 the specification. 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 table below shows for the titles of the RPs and the ones OCR suggest. The free practical handbooks are available on the website where full details of teacher technician notes and students worksheets can be found.

OCR do not specify particular required practicals but split the requirements into 8 Practical Activity Groups (PAGs). The PAGs cover the ATs and an example practical is given.

AQA – Physics

OCRs – Physics PAGs suggestions

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.

P1 Determine the densities of a variety of objects, both solid and liquid.

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

P2 Investigate the effect of forces on springs.

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.

P3 Investigate acceleration of a trolley down a ramp.

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.

P4 Use a ripple tank to measure the speed, frequency and wavelength of a wave.

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.

P5 Determine the specific heat capacity of a material.

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.

P6. Investigate the I-V characteristics of circuit elements.

P7 Investigate the brightness of bulbs in series and parallel.

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.

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

P8. Investigate the reflection of light off a plane mirror and the refraction of light through  prisms.

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


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



AQA – GCSE Physics

OCR Gateway – 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.

90 marks per paper. 180 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.


Topics covered in each paper

Paper 1

AQA – Physics Paper 1

OCR– Physics Paper 1

Topic 1 – Energy

Topic P1 – Matter

Topic 2 – Electricity

Topic P2 – Forces

Topic 3 – Particle model of matter

Topic P3 – Electricity

Topic 4  – Atomic structure

Topic P4 – Magnetism and magnetic fields

Topic P9  Practical skills

Paper 2

AQA – Physics Paper 2

OCR – Physics Paper 2

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

With assumed knowledge from P1 – P4

Topics 5 – Forces

Topic P5  – Waves and matter

Topic 6 – Waves

Topic P6 – Radioactivity

Topic 7  – Magnetism and electromagnetism

Topic P7  – Energy

Topic P8  – Global challenges

Assumed knowledge from Topic P9  Practical skills

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