Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the classification code for this specification?

The classification code for this specification is 1010.

What grades can students achieve with this award?

We award GCSE qualifications on an eight grade scale from A*–G, with A* being the highest. For students who fail to attain a grade G, we report their results as unclassified (U).

Are students allowed to resit individual assessment units?

Yes, students can choose to resit individual assessment units once. The better result for each assessment unit counts towards the GCSE qualification. Results for individual assessment units remain available to count towards a GCSE qualification until we withdraw the specification.

Are students assessed on the quality of their written communication?

Yes, in GCSE Biology students must demonstrate their quality of written communication. In particular, they must:

  • ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate so that meaning is clear;
  • select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to their purpose and to complex subject matter; and
  • organise information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary where appropriate.

Examiners and teachers assess the quality of students’ written communication in their responses to questions or tasks that require extended writing.

What skills can students develop through studying this specification?

This specification provides opportunities for students to develop the following Key Skills:

  • Application of Number;
  • Communication;
  • Improving Own Learning and Performance;
  • Information and Communication Technology;
  • Problem-Solving; and
  • Working with Others.

Agreement Trial Frequently Asked Questions

When can the materials for the controlled assessment tasks be accessed?

The teacher guidance for all tasks will be available immediately as soon as it comes into centres. Departments may use this to choose which task(s) to carry out. Three working days before you are ready to start the controlled assessment planning process, you should have access to Booklet A and Booklet B for whichever task you have chosen to do. The mark scheme for Booklet B may only be released once all candidates have completed Booklets A and B.

Can a writing frame be used to guide pupils through the various parts of the planning and risk assessment in Booklet A?

Yes a generic writing frame can be used as long as it is not specific to the task. Candidates can be guided to write towards the criteria on the planning and risk assessment mark grid and the mark grids can be shared with candidates.

What is required in a risk assessment?

A risk assessment should include at least 3 specific risks, what can happen due to this risk and what measures are being put in place to minimise the risk. Candidates are not expected to state what they would do if harm occurred as the risk assessment is to aid their plan in making the process as safe as possible. A table with headings is useful with RISK, POTENTIAL HAZARDOUS OUTCOME and METHODS OF MINIMISING HAZARDOUS OUTCOME.

Is an equipment list and a labelled diagram of apparatus required?

No either one is acceptable but many candidates provide both which is excellent practice but not essential.

If candidates do not mention repeating in their method can this be awarded if they show that they are planning to record repeated results in their table(s)?


What do candidates need for P3g in a quantitative controlled assessment?

Candidates need to detail their controlled variables, indicate that they will repeat and provide a strategy for dealing with anomalous results.

What constitutes a strategy for dealing with anomalous results?

This can be as simple as “I will disregard anomalous results” or “Not use anomalous results to calculate an average.”

What happens if a candidate’s results from the practical are not good and would hinder them in Booklet B?

If the candidates has no opportunity to do the practical again, results may be shared or a set of results provided but this should only be in a few cases and not for a whole class. The teacher should have trialed the experiment to ensure that good results are obtained.

Do we have to follow the methods provided in the teacher guidance?

Yes it is advisable that you do as these are often linked to the secondary data in Booklet B and candidates are often asked to compare their investigation to the ones provided. If a candidate carries out a different method it may not closely match any of the secondary data.

Can a candidate with writing difficulties have a scribe/use a computer for Booklet A and B?

The access arrangements for a candidate can be applied to Booklet A and B though it would be expected that most candidates provide handwritten Booklets A and B unless there are access arrangements in place.

Do candidates need to fill in their results in the blank results table in Booklet A?

Yes it is very important that they do this. It is difficult to moderate the analysis in Booklet B if a candidate does not show their results. The term “blank results table” is there simply to make sure candidates provide a table for recording results as part of their plan. Whilst there are no marks for obtaining data, it is important that candidates provide the data in Booklet A.

Do the units in the table have to be at the top with the headings, such as volume (cm3) or time (s)?

This would be preferable but candidates can put units in the body of the table but all units must then be present to award P3f. If units are completely missing candidates cannot be awarded even P1f. If the units are provided with the headings and one is missing candidates can still be awarded P3f if all other aspects of the table are correct.

Do candidates have to provide higher tier scientific information to back up their hypothesis?

No all controlled assessments are based around foundation tier subject content. Higher tier candidates may provide more detail which is excellent but other candidates should not be penalised if they do not provide this.

What is a complex plan?

A complex plan is one which is clear and is given in enough detail that it could be carried out in the correct sequence to obtain the required results.

Do all marking grid descriptor codes have to be included in the marking of Booklet A?

Only the highest level descriptor code has to be included, for example P3g is included it is assumed that P1g and P2g are also awarded. If P2a is annotated on Booklet A it would be assumed that P1a is awarded but P3a is not awarded.

Can candidates redraft Booklet A?

No. Candidates can spend as long as they need planning and making notes which they can use to complete Booklet A but once Booklet A is completed it cannot be redone. Only the results can be added to Booklet A after it has been marked by the teacher.

Should a candidates be penalised in Booklet B if their graph did not start at 0, 0?

No they should not be penalised. The main problem with axes are incorrect labels or missing labels and the use of an uneven scale. An even scale is required which means that candidates should have the same number of graph squares for the same number difference on the axis.

Should candidates join the points or draw a line or curve of best fit?

If a line or curve of best fit is required it will form part of the graph question in Booklet B. Often in Biology investigations candidates may join the points. Chemistry and Physics investigations often require a line or curve of best fit. If it is not clear, candidates should not be penalised for a sensible choice of line or curve.

Should a candidate be penalised if they extrapolate their graph back to 0,0 or their origin or to the y axis?

It is best practice not to extrapolate beyond the extremes of the points plotted. A candidate who does extrapolate should not be penalised.

What constitutes reference to graphs/results in a quantitative Booklet B?

Reference to either of the actual results or reading points from the graph are expected. Data to confirm the trend from at least two levels (values) of the independent variable are required. However, if a CAT mark scheme states that numerical values are not required a reference to the shape of the graph or the trend in the results is acceptable.

What constitutes a valid statement explaining why their conclusion either agrees or disagrees with their initial hypothesis?

This can be simply of the form “I predicted that . . . . . . . . and my results match this prediction” or “I predicted that . . . . . . and my data shows that at [quote numerical data]”

Should an error be carried forward in a calculation?

Yes if a candidate make an error in part of a calculation and this would affect a further part of the calculation then marks can be awarded if they have successfully carried forward the error.

Do all candidates have to sit Booklet B at the same time?

No Booklet B can be sat as a class test and catch up sessions can be run for those who may have missed. Any unused copies of Booklet B should be retained by the Head of Department.

When do I use the qualitative mark grid for Booklet A and where can I find it?

The teacher guidance will give details if the qualitative mark grid is to be used and this is common in Chemistry and Biology tasks. It is available on the science microsite of the CCEA website under GCSE Double Award Science and Controlled Assessment.

Do candidates and teachers have to authenticate the work?

Yes this is very important and the date should be the date the work is authenticated as their own. Signing this means that candidates and teachers are stating that the work is the candidate’s own.

Can I get my controlled assessment marking checked?

The moderation team will happily answer queries and there is a Portfolio Clinic available after Christmas where centres can provide a limited number of marked photocopies of controlled assessments and the moderation team will provide feedback on the marking of Booklets A and B.

Can we have access to previous controlled assessment tasks?

CCEA do not hold a stock of controlled assessment tasks. If a centre is new to CCEA specifications, controlled assessment samples with teacher guidance and mark schemes are distributed at Agreement Trials.

What should I do if I suspect plagiarism in a candidate’s work?

If the candidate’s work has been authenticated by the candidate and the teacher and the candidates has been entered for this controlled assessment component, the plagiarism should be reported to CCEA. If both of these have not happened the centre should use its own internal procedures to deal with the suspected plagiarism.