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Gcse Coursework Science Examples Of Hypothesis

Skill 1: Predictions / Hypotheses

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In Core Science, you will given a hypothesis to test in your Data Analysis Coursework.

In Additional Science, or in Biology GCSE, Chemistry GCSE, or Physics GCSE, you will have to write your own hypothesis or prediction and test it in your Investigation Coursework.

Hypotheses and Predictions - what are they?

In science, we test ideas by using experiments. An idea that can be tested in an experiment can be called a hypothesis. Sometimes you may be able to make a detailed description of what you think may happen in an experiment. You might call that a prediction.

Investigation Skill Ra

Grades G/F

If your idea can be tested in an experiment, then that's a hypothesis or prediction. At this level, you don't need any reason, just an idea to test. For example, you might be investigating how the speed of waves in water depends on the depth of the water; you could predict
"I think the waves will travel faster in the deep water."

Grades E/D

Your prediction is better if you give some reason for it. For example, you might explain
"I think the waves will travel faster in the deep water because I've been in a boat on the sea and we couldn't keep up with the waves ."

Grades C/B

Your prediction is even better if you support it with scientific reasons. You should know something about what you are investigating. For example, you might be investigating how the intensity of a light bulb decreases as you move further from it
"I think the intensity will decrease as I get further from the light bulb, because the photons spread out as they travel through the air. The beam contains the same number of photons, but they are more spread out and that means a lower intensity."

Grades A/A*

The best kind of predictions would be quantitative (and they would be supported by good scientific reasoning). These ideas will often help:
  • be prepared to use a wide range of technical terms correctly;
  • you may need to show thorough understanding and/or use of a formal model (such as lock and key to explain enzyme activity, chain length of hydrocarbons affecting their viscosity, or photon model of electromagnetic radiation);
  • a diagram will often help you to explain what you mean (e.g. showing forces on an object, voltages in a circuit, what the particles are doing at a microscopic level).
For example, you might write
"I think the intensity will decrease as I get further from the light bulb, because the photons spread out as they travel through the air. The intensity of a beam is the energy delivered each second by 1 square metre of the beam. Look at the diagram below."

"At a distance of 50cm, the photons all pass through a square (ABCD) that is 10cm x 10cm (so that makes 100cm2). By the time the beam has travelled 100cm, the square (that the photons all pass through - EFGH) is now 20cm x 20cm (making 400cm2). So the same number of photons are now spread over an area that is FOUR times bigger. In other words, if I double the distance from the lamp, the intensity should be one quarter of what it was."

AQA's ISA (Individual Skills Assignments)

The Controlled Assessment unit consists of two ISA papers, worth up to 50 marks. They will be worth up to 25% of your GCSE overall. That's a lot, so the ISA is something you should work hard at - it will help your final grade!

Using AQA's Specimen ISA, here we reveal the different sections, leading to our detailed advice.

Stage 0 - Glossary

You will need to be clear in your use of scientific language. Our carefully written AQA Glossary Guide provides you with a significant advantage. Start here!

Stage 1 - Planning

Before you carry out the practical, your teacher will introduce the experiment to you in a context - e.g. if asked to investigate how springs stretch under different loads, the context could be a child's toy which bounces up and down on a spring.

You then write research on the topic, using a Candidate Research Notes sheet, and plan what to do, coming up with a suitable hypothesis. e.g. you find out about the behaviour of springs, read about Hooke's Law and come up with a hypothesis that the extension of the spring will depend on the force added.

You must find two methods for your investigation as you may need to explain why you chose it.

Your Candidate Research Notes must not contain draft texts for Stage 2, so keep your research brief and in note form. You could scribble down the table headings and possible units, but don't draft a table - that's not allowed.

Stage 2 - Reporting on Planning

This is Section One of the ISA and is a written paper, done under exam conditions. In it you will have to:

  1. state and explain your hypothesis
  2. consider variables (independent, dependent and control) that you will manage
  3. use your research to show how to test your hypothesis
  4. write a detailed plan of your chosen method
  5. identify possible hazards and write a short risk assessment
  6. draw a blank table ready for results from your planned experiment.

Section One sounds really nasty, but it will always consist of the above parts, so concentrate on understanding each piece first and you should find that you quite enjoy completing the paper - if you can enjoy exams, that is!

There are two marks for the table and they're dead easy. Click here for our simple advice!

Stage 3 - Practical Work

At last, your practical! Don't worry too much about having to get "perfect results". What really matters here is that you get enough results and record them properly in a table.

You might be the best experimenter since Richard Feynmann, or as clumsy with a stopwatch as a bear unscrewing a jar of marmalade... you can still get the same marks!

Stage 4 - Processing Results

Having done your practical, you will be given some time to process the results from your table into a graph. In Physics, most graphs you do will be line graphs, but this needn't always be the case and you must decide!

There are four marks for the graph and some are really easy. Click here for our simple advice!

Stage 5 - Analysing Results

This is Section Two of the ISA, the final written paper, done under exam conditions. In it you will have to:

  1. analyse your own results
  2. draw a conclusion
  3. compare your results to your hypothesis
  4. evaluate the method of collection and the quality of the data
  5. analyse secondary data about the same topic as your investigation
  6. relate your findings to the context of the ISA.

So again there's a lot to do, but it will be in nice little sections and with practice you will do okay!

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