GCSE Double Award Science and Triple Science GCSEs Explained

by Anita Naik

If you're confused about the choices when it comes to GCSE Science, here's what you need to know.

What are my choices?

It very much depends on what your school can offer you, but the choices at GCSE are as follows:

Double Award Science, also known as Combined Science, is where students study all three sciences - Biology, Chemistry and Physics but end up with two GCSEs across all three-science subjects.

The Triple Award Science, also known as 'Single Sciences' is where students study all Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects and end-up with three separate GCSEs.

Why are there so many choices?

When GCSEs were created thirty years ago, students had the choice of three separate sciences. However, it was found that boys gravitated towards Physics and Chemistry and girls Biology and Chemistry. To balance this out, a broad and balanced science GCSE was created - double science.

What are the tiers for double science?

Each exam in the combined science GCSE features Foundation tier and Higher tier paper (like maths). The foundation tier is designed for students who are aiming for grades 1-5. In contrast, the Higher tier is designed for students who are looking for grades 4-9. Where students are placed are based on guidance from teachers.

Which science GCSE should I choose?

It very much depends on what you want to do for A-Level, your degree and even which university you want top go-to. Combined/double science only covers the first two units of each science, while triple covers all three units of each science. Triple can be better for Medicine because you'll get a better start at science A-Levels, but double science isn't a barrier for the A level sciences or Medicine. Speak to your school about your choices

Do I have to be good at maths for science in general?

Maths now accounts for at least 20% of the marks in science, divided between Biology, Chemistry and Physics in the ratio 1:2:3. It pays to get help with maths if you are struggling with science.

What is the specification for double science at a glance?

It very much depends on the examination board, but the following are all covered:

Biology: Cell biology, infection and response, bioenergetics, homeostasis and response, inheritance, variation and evolution and ecology.

Chemistry: Atomic structure and the periodic table, bonding, structure, and the properties of matter, quantitative chemistry, chemical changes, energy changes, the rate and extent of chemical change, organic chemistry, chemical analysis, the chemistry of the atmosphere.

Physics: Energy, electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structure, forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism.

What will I get out of the combined science GCSE?

According to the Department of Education, the GCSE specifications in combined award science should enable students to:

Develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.

Develop an understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science, through different types of scientific enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them.

Develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills, both in the laboratory, in the field and other learning environments.

Develop their ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively

Do universities prefer combined science GCSE or triple science GCSE?

Universities do not discriminate on double science instead of triple because not all schools offer a choice.

Regardless of which GCSE science you take, you'll cover all three subjects; the key difference is the depth you go into, the number of exams you take and the number of individual GCSE qualifications you come away with (as above).

If you apply to a science subject at university - such as Medicine, nursing etc., as well as biology, chemistry and physics - the entry requirements for a course are likely to include some specifics around GCSEs so check these with your school before you make your choice.

However, The Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities, defines the separate sciences as their facilitating subjects. These are subjects that these universities require students to have to be accepted onto their degree courses.

For more help with double or triple science GCSE, contact us.

Tags: GCSEs A-Levels University
Categories: GCSE Science