AQA GCSE Combined Science: Synergy Past Papers - CIE Notes (2024)

Complete AQA GCSE Combined Science: Synergy Past Papers

Combined Science: Synergy is part of our science suite, developed with teachers to inspire and challenge student of all abilities and aspirations. (See alsoGCSE Combined Science: Trilogy).

Synergy is a double award and worth two GCSEs. It is assessed by four, 1 hour and 45 minute exams.

The specification covers the same Department for Education subject criteria as Combined Science: Trilogy, structured so that it can be easily taught by two teachers.

The content is arranged into topics that bring together concepts from biology, chemistry and physics to help students understand that they are interlinked, and to exemplify key areas of working scientifically. This will give students a more rounded understanding of science as a whole.

The three-column format clearly lists what students are expected to recall, describe, define, explain or evaluate along with the terminology and conventions that students need to be familiar with and opportunities for skills development.Further sections outline the requirements for the skills in working scientifically, maths and practical assessment. The 21 required practicals are common to Combined Science: Trilogy and to the separate sciences, which gives you flexibility when running practical sessions.

Why choose AQA for GCSE Combined Science: Synergy

Our philosophy: science for all

We believe that science has something to offer every student, and that everyone needs some level of relevant scientific understanding.

That’s why we have a suite of science qualifications for Key Stage 4 – so that students of all abilities and all aspirations can realise their potential.

Two sections for two teachers

Teachers have told us that:

  • many schools organise their curriculum drawing on the experience of two teachers
  • science teachers tend to be more confident around either the life sciences or the physical sciences
  • science learning is enriched when teaching draws on different areas that can be naturally linked together.

We have divided the content into two main sections, which contain connections between areas of biology, physics and chemistry that sit together as part of good science.

Life and environmental sciences (4.1–4.4)

  • 4.1 Building blocks: from atoms to cells, behaviour and transport on the small scale.
  • 4.2 Transport over larger distances: systems in animals and plants and how these systems interact.
  • 4.3 Interactions with the environment: the effects of factors in the environment on organisms, how our choices affect our health.
  • 4.4 Explaining change: how organisms, species, living and non-living systems change over time.

Physical sciences (4.5–4.8)

  • 4.5 Building blocks for understanding: organising, patterns, properties and analysis.
  • 4.6 Interactions over small and large distances: strong and weak forces between atoms, molecules and larger structures and how they interact.
  • 4.7 Movement and interactions: rates of change of motion and direction of large and small objects, and chemical changes.
  • 4.8 Guiding Spaceship Earth towards a sustainable future: resources of materials and energy.

Both sections include topics that draw together and apply key concepts. Examples in Life and environmental sciences include Radiation and risk and The Earth’s atmosphere. In these topics, earlier work on atomic structure, waves and electromagnetic radiation is used to explain the effects of different types of radiation on human tissues and on the climate. An example in Physical sciences is Resources of materials and energy, which introduces life cycle assessment as a way of evaluating the impacts of using materials and energy to manufacture useful products.

Inspire students with rich practical activities

There’s no better way to learn about science than through purposeful practical activities as part of day-to-day teaching and learning. Our 21 required practicals:

  • are clearly laid out in the specification, so you know exactly what’s required
  • are deliberately open, so you can teach in the way that suits you and your students
  • have already been trialled in schools.

You’ll find even more support and guidance in our practical handbook, which includes recommendations and advice from teachers in the trial.

Straightforward exams, so students can give straightforward answers

We’ve improved our question papers. You’ll find that our exams:

  • use more straightforward language and fewer words so they’re easier to understand
  • have fewer contexts so students don’t get confused
  • have questions that increase in difficulty so students feel confident
  • have been written with our GCSE Mathematics and A-level science teams, so students have consistency between content and questions.

Over 3,000 students have sat our specimen question papers and they agree that they’re clearer and more straightforward than ever.

We don’t profit from education – you do

We are an educational charity focused on the needs of teachers and students. This means that we spend our income on improving the quality of our specifications, exams, resources and support.

You can find out about all ourCombined Science: Synergyqualifications

Support and resources to help you teach

We’ve worked with experienced teachers to provide you with a range of resources that will help you confidently plan, teach and prepare for exams.

Teaching resources see all our teaching resources. They include:

  • additional practice papers to help students prepare for exams
  • schemes of work, written by experienced teachers
  • a practical handbook, including recommendations and advice from teachers who’ve trialled our practicals
  • AQA approved textbooks reviewed by experienced senior examiners
  • subject expertise courses for all teachers, from newly qualified teachers who are just getting started to experienced teachers looking for fresh inspiration.

Preparing for exams everything you need to prepare for our exams, including:

  • past papers, mark schemes and examiners’ reports
  • specimen papers and mark schemes for new courses
  • Exampro: a searchable bank of past AQA exam questions
  • exemplar student answers with examiner commentaries.

Analyse your students’ results with Enhanced Results Analysis (ERA)

Find out which questions were the most challenging, how the results compare to previous years and where your students need to improve. ERA, our free online results analysis tool, will help you see where to focus your teaching. Register

For information about results, including maintaining standards over time, grade boundaries and our post-results services,

Keep your skills up-to-date with professional development

Wherever you are in your career, there’s always something new to learn. As well as subject-specific training, we offer a range of courses to help boost your skills.

  • Improve your teaching skills in areas including differentiation, teaching literacy and meeting Ofsted requirements.
  • Prepare for a new role with our leadership and management courses.

You can attend a course at venues around the country, in your school or online – whatever suits your needs and availability. Find out more






























































AQA GCSE Combined Science: Synergy Past Papers - CIE Notes (2024)


How many marks do you need to pass GCSE combined science? ›

The DfE have confirmed that a grade 4 is a standard pass and grade 5 is a strong pass. For Combined Science this means that it would equate to a grade 4-4 being a standard pass.

Is GCSE Combined science hard? ›

As far as I am aware the difficulty is the same, just additional topics are studied in the third part of each science. Triple content IS more challenging. It's not just extra of the same level. There are some additional topics but also additional content across the course which extends the level of knowledge.

How to pass combined science GCSE? ›

Ask to practice as many exam questions and whole exam papers as possible. Know how much time you will have in the exam and devise your own way of dividing the time up so you do not panic in the exam. For example, give yourself more time for the higher mark questions.

Why do you get 2 GCSEs for combined science? ›

GCSE Combined Science is a double-award qualification, meaning that students study a broad range of scientific topics but receive only one qualification, worth 2 GCSEs. Typically, the course covers Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with less depth than Separate Science courses.

What grade is 72 percent in GCSE? ›

According to this illustration, grade 4 requires 56 - 66 per cent, grade 5 requires 67 - 77 per cent and grade 6 requires 78 - 88 per cent.

Can you get a 9 in Combined Science GCSE? ›

Students taking separate science GCSEs will get a grade from 9 to 1 for each subject, with 9 being the highest grade. Students studying combined science will receive an award worth two GCSEs, consisting of two equal or adjacent grades from 9 to 1 (9-9, 9-8, 8-8, 8-7, 7-7…to 1-1).

Can you resit GCSE combined science? ›

You can either resit your GCSEs at school or college or you can study for your resit with an online GCSE course and resit the exam at a private exam centre.

How many papers do you do for combined science GCSE? ›

Assessments. There are six papers: two biology, two chemistry and two physics. Each of the papers will assess knowledge and understanding from distinct topic areas.

What is the difference between AQA trilogy and synergy? ›

Combined Science Synergy and Trilogy are two different approaches to teaching science at the GCSE level. Synergy is a more general approach that covers the basics of biology, chemistry, and physics. Trilogy is a more in-depth approach covering more topics in the three sciences.

Is it better to do combined science or triple science? ›

If you're looking for a more in-depth understanding of the sciences and a more challenging qualification, then GCSE Triple Science might be the best choice for you. However, if you want to gain a generally rounded understanding of the sciences, then GCSE Double Science is a good option.

Is synergy triple science? ›

The Combined Science Synergy GCSE gives a grounding in biology, chemistry and physics and looks at how these scientific subjects relate.

What does 32 mean in combined science? ›

It seems that the way some schools/colleges have rendered results data for distribution means that the dash in the combined science grades has been left out. So if your son got a score of 32, it is probably 3-2. You can see where these sit on the full 17-point scale here.

What percentage do you need to get a 7 in GCSE science? ›

What percentage is a 7 in GCSE? This is another frequently asked question regarding the new grading system. Grade 7, according to the old system, means scoring a lower grade A. A student who gets grade 7 (lower A) must have scored approximately 70-82 per cent in their examinations.

What grade is a pass in GCSE? ›

Equivalent GCSE grades

The Government has said that grade 4 is a 'standard pass'. Grade 5 is a 'strong pass' and equivalent to a high C and low B on the old grading system. Grade 4 remains the level that students must achieve without needing to resit English and Maths post-16.

What is 50 percent as a GCSE grade? ›

It's all subject and cohort-dependent as to which percentages equal which grades. As a rough example, in a higher-tier maths exam, you can expect to gain a grade 6 with a 50-70 per cent overall mark, and an 8 if you achieve 86 per cent or more.


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