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GCSE assessment

Science Exams Are Too Easy

What's Changed?

There’s no doubt about it: OFQUAL have raised the bar for GCSE assessment. Flick through the specimen exams and you’ll see longer explanations required and more questions set in contexts you haven’t used in class. Look at the controlled assessments and you’ll realise that many students will find them far more challenging. Four assessment areas in particular are going to be tougher:

  1. Planning skills: students have to do more independent research and justify their choices in the new controlled assessment.
  2. Weighing up evidence: questions will require stronger skills in interpreting evidence and making judgments; simple graph reading won’t suffice.
  3. Applying knowledge: more questions will be set in novel contexts so that students have to think instead of being able to recall information.
  4. Communication skills: there will be lots of 6 mark questions and a new ‘Quality of Written Communication’ assessment - how well students organise an answer.

Crucial teaches all the challenging skills

We know teachers are worried. GCSE grades will slip if their C/D students can’t cope. So what’s the answer? Not a new course - only 10% of the content is changing. What about revision materials? Not enough - students need more than practice to master complex skills. They won’t become experts by themselves! They need guidance and feedback.

The message in the new assessment criteria is loud and clear: teach students the skills that will foster GCSE success. We often assume content - remembering knowledge - is enough. But not this time! To meet the assessment criteria, students must be able to apply their knowledge. That’s what exam boards recommend schools to focus on, and it’s the scientific approach to teaching science.

Learning complex processes like these takes more than practice revision questions. The processes need breaking down, and modeling so that students can learn the skills individually. Scaffolding also helps support students’ early attempts.

Crucial provides all this in a fully classroom tested package – it’s the scientific approach to developing skills for GCSE success.

Assessment Table

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