GCSE Science exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

Science concept image

Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on GCSE Science

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on GCSE Science, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

DO plan your revision to target the areas you’re less confident about first – but mix it up with aspects of topics you like.

  • Look for links between different areas of the specification.
  • Make flash cards to help you learn the chemical calculations and equations included in biology, chemistry and physics topics.

DO make sure you fully understand the practical work you’ve done so you can refer to it in the exam where required. What you’ve learned in practical activities is very important.

  • Be ready to explain the reasons for carrying out a particular practical technique, or the use of a particular piece of apparatus.
  • Think about how you might have improved the approach you took when carrying out investigative work – evaluation is a key part of working scientifically.

DO be ready to apply what you know about the use of scientific apparatus and techniques to practical situations you may not have met before. Some questions will ask you to apply your investigative skills.

  • Show that you understand the subject-specific language which applies when answering these parts of questions.
  • Check that you know, and can use, the formulae needed to process the data you gather in different experiments.

DO make sure you read the question carefully, identifying the correct command word. A common error students make is writing a description when they’ve been asked to explain something - a description alone will not get any marks. Remember:

  • Identify key words and parts of the question instruction, especially those relating to unit conversions and the command words.
  • You can underline key words and circle command words to help you focus on answering the question asked.
  • You can also annotate the question.

DO use appropriate scientific vocabulary to show the examiner that you understand scientific ideas and techniques.

  • Proper application of knowledge is important to show understanding.
  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with the vocabulary relating to practical work.
  • Use the information from diagrams and tables to help you to answer the question.

DON’T panic.

  • You’ll know more than you think you do and everyone taking the exam is in the same boat.
  • In GCSE science, 40% of the marks will be for applying knowledge in unfamiliar contexts, including asking you to link together ideas that aren’t linked on the specification. You’ll be asked questions in contexts that you haven’t studied in class.
  • Don’t let this put you off – think how the science you’ve studied relates to the question we’re asking.

DON’T start writing straight away when answering six mark questions.

  • Think about what the question is asking you to write – and plan your answer so that you give a coherent, sequenced line of reasoning that answers the question.

DON’T leave any gaps.

  • If you don’t think you know an answer, work out what the question is asking and then make an intelligent guess.
  • Remember the first part of the next question may be easier than the question you’re answering. If you get stuck, don’t give up – try the next question.


Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!