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GCSE Coursework advice

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Check out these 'cheat' sites for further help!

Chemistry

Physics

PLAGARISM  Beaware of this site before you copy & paste!!!

 

How are marks for coursework determined? Click on the thumbnails below.

GCSE coursework guide.jpg (293400 bytes)    

A single sheet that gives you at a glance the information you need to get those higher marks!

 

 

Still want more in depth information?  Here are the mark descriptions for the 4 skill areas used to assess coursework 

GCSE syllabus_072.jpg (202574 bytes)    GCSE syllabus_073.jpg (169477 bytes)    GCSE syllabus_074.jpg (196147 bytes)    GCSE syllabus_075.jpg (158054 bytes)   

Your coursework will be on 'What factors affect the resistance of a piece of wire'.  during the practical work you will notice that the thickness of the wires is given in 'swg' this stands for 'standard wire gauge' however this is not particularly clear.  So I have put below the relationship for constantan between swg, diameter and resistance.  You might find this useful to discuss in your coursework write up!!

CONSTANTAN

S.W.G.

DIAMETER (mm)

RESISTANCE per metre

16 1.6 0.24
20 0.9 0.76
22 0.71 1.26
24 0.56 2.02
26 0.45 3.02
28 0.37 4.35
30 0.31 6
32 0.28 7.8
34 0.23 12.6
36 0.19 16
40 0.12 36

 

The following is a guide to completing your GCSE Course Work. This section applies to all 3 sciences. Keep reading over this and make sure you have answered all the questions. Good luck, Oh, and STICK TO THE DEADLINES!!!!!

Safety

Look carefully at your plan to see if it is safe. Look for things like:

  • goggles, test tube racks and bench mats in the apparatus list
  • warnings about hazardous chemicals (such as acids) in your method
  • warnings about using equipment safely, for example, remember to tuck in ties and tie hair back when using a Bunsen burner
  • you are going to use sensible amounts and temperatures

Answer this question: Is your plan safe?

The apparatus

OK so far! Youíve got a safe plan. This gets you some evidence for 2 marks out of 8 for planning. Now we need to see if you can select the appropriate equipment. For example, you might have planned to:

  • use a Bunsen burner to heat up a liquid instead of breathing on it
  • use a stopwatch instead of counting one elephant ... two elephant ... three elephant ... etc.

Answer this question:
Have you chosen the right equipment for the job?

Fair testing

Good so far! Youíve got a safe plan and you know which equipment to use. This gives your teacher some evidence for 4 marks out of 8 for Planning. To see if you will get these marks, we need to see if you have made your method a fair test. To make it a fair test, you should only change one variable. For example, you might have planned to:

  • use the same volume of acid and the same temperature of acid, and just change the metal tested
  • use the same concentrations and volumes of chemicals reacting together, and just vary the temperature

Answer this question: Is your plan a fair test?

Prediction

Great! Youíve got a safe plan. Itís a fair test and you know which apparatus to use. To be sure of 4 marks out of 8, you should make a prediction of what you think will happen. Itís always a good idea to think about what might happen when you do your experiment. Weíre not talking about astrology here, though, because in science you need to think about why you think something will happen.

Look carefully at your plan to see if you have made a prediction.

Answer this question: Have you made a prediction?

Prediction (again!)

Good job! Youíve got a safe plan which is a fair test. Youíve chosen the correct apparatus, and made a prediction. This gives your teacher evidence for 4 marks out of 8 for Planning. To see if your plan is worth more, we need to ask some more questions. We are going to ask you if you have used scientific knowledge to explain your prediction. Look carefully at your prediction. Look to see if you have:

  • given a reason for your prediction
  • backed up your reason with some science that you have learnt (and the science is relevant to the prediction)

Answer this question: Have you used scientific knowledge to explain your prediction?

Fair testing again!

Great so far! Youíve got a safe plan which is a fair test, and youíve chosen the correct apparatus. Youíve made a prediction and used scientific knowledge to explain your prediction. This gives your teacher some evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Planning. To get further, you must clearly state which variables you will keep the same to make it a fair test, and which you will change. For example, you might have sentences which begin:

  • To make it a fair test, I will keep the following variables the same: [list of variables] ...and ..
  • I will change this variable: [variable to change]
  • I will observe/measure this variable: [variable to observe/measure]

Answer this question: Have you clearly stated the variables?

How many measurements?

Wow! Youíve got a safe plan which is a fair test, and youíve chosen the correct apparatus. Youíve made a prediction and used scientific knowledge to explain your prediction. The variables to be controlled or varied are also clearly stated. This gives your teacher a lot of evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Planning. To grab 6 marks, you must also decide on a suitable number and range of measurements to make. For example:

  • you can always draw a straight line on a graph between two points, so at least three readings are needed
  • it is sensible to spread your readings out a bit, e.g. it usually makes more sense to go for 20įC, 30įC and 40įC rather than 20įC, 21įC and 22įC

Answer this question: Have you got a suitable range and number of measurements?

Prediction

Excellent! Youíve got a safe plan which is a fair test, and youíve chosen the correct apparatus. Youíve made a prediction and used scientific knowledge to explain your prediction. The variables to be controlled or varied are clearly stated, and you have explained how many measurements you will need to take. To see if your plan is worth more, we need to ask some more questions.

We are going to ask you if you have used detailed scientific knowledge to explain your prediction. Look to see if you have put a lot of detail into the reasons for your prediction. You might have:

  • done some calculations to justify your prediction (rates of reaction, heats of combustion, and so on)
  • drawn a graph of what you expect
  • drawn diagrams to make your reason clear (these might show colliding particles in a rate of reaction prediction, for example)

Answer this question: Have you used detailed scientific knowledge?

Precise and reliable evidence

Warp speed! Youíve got a safe plan, made a prediction, and used detailed scientific knowledge and understanding to explain it. Your plan is also a fair test, and youíve clearly stated the variables to be controlled or varied. You have also chosen a suitable number and range of measurements. To give your teacher still more evidence for 8 marks out of 8 for Planning, you must explain how you will get precise and reliable evidence. For example:

  • it is usually a good idea to repeat readings and/or experiments
  • it is usually a good idea to choose the most precise and accurate apparatus available to you

Answer this question: Are you going to repeat where necessary?

Preliminary work and secondary sources

Brilliant! Youíve got it all ... except for the last bit. To get 8 marks in the bag, youíve got to use information from secondary sources or from preliminary work. Watch out, though, the key word is use. Itís no good just repeating what your Uncle Bob (a research chemist) has told you, or ripping stuff off the Internet or a text book. If you donít understand it, donít bother with it, because you have to show how the information has helped you with your plan.

Alternatively, you might have done some preliminary experiments to work out the best conditions for your main experiments. Again, itís no good just saying you did a brilliant experiment, but Grannie washed the bit of paper with the results on in your trouser pocket. You must write down what you did, what you found, and what it means for your final plan.

Answer this question: Have you used information from secondary sources or preliminary work?

 Make sure you have explained yourself clearly, and that your spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate. Ask your teacher if you are not sure.

Good luck with the rest of your investigation!

Using equipment safely

Your teacher will watch you closely to see that you can work safely. If he or she is not happy about your safety, you will not even get 2 marks. You may even be told to stop. If you work in a pair or small group, make sure that everyone has used the equipment at some stage so that everyone gets a chance of at least 2 marks. Simple equipment includes measuring apparatus like stopwatches and thermometers, and other equipment like Bunsen burners and test tubes.

Think back to your experiment and answer this question.

Answer this question: Did you work safely?

Making observations or measurements

Good job! You worked safely. Your teacher will watch you closely to see that you can make observations or measurements. For just 2 marks, you donít need to write them down, but you must make sure that your teacher has seen you do something! So, if you work in a pair or small group, make sure that everyone has used the equipment at some stage so that everyone gets a chance of at least 2 marks.

Answer this question: Did you make some observations or measurements?

Making observations or measurements

Good so far! You worked safely, and you made some observations or measurements. This gives your teacher evidence for 2 marks out of 8 for Obtaining. To get further, you must make enough of the correct observations or measurements. Your teacher can help if youíre not sure that you have made an adequate number of observations or measurements. Look ahead to your Analysis Ė can you make a conclusion from your results, or should you have taken more readings? Have you observed or measured the right things?

Answer this question: Have you made an adequate number of observations or measurements?

Making observations or measurements

Good so far! You worked safely, and you made some observations or measurements. This gives your teacher evidence for 2 marks out of 8 for Obtaining. To get further, you must record your observations or measurements. You could make your records as a table, as a list, or a written description.

Answer this question: Have you recorded your observations or measurements?

Accurate observations and measurements

Great so far! You worked safely, and you made enough observations or measurements which you recorded. This gives your teacher evidence for 4 marks out of 8 for Obtaining. To get further, these observations or measurements must be accurate, and you must have repeated any that needed repeating.

Think about what you have done so far:

  • did you use the equipment carefully and accurately?
  • have you got enough results to make a reasonable conclusion?
  • have you varied the conditions sensibly, or is it all a bit haphazard?
  • if you plot a graph of your results and get a point that looks out of place, have you repeated that experiment?
  • did you repeat any experiments that went wrong?

This is a lot to take in, but try to be critical of your handiwork.

Answer this question: Have you made sufficient systematic observations and accurate measurements, and repeated them when appropriate?

Clear and accurate records

Great so far! You worked safely, and you made accurate observations or measurements which you recorded, and repeated when necessary. This gives your teacher some evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Obtaining. To get further, you must have recorded your observations or measurements clearly and accurately.

This is usually teacher-speak for tables. Think about what you have done so far. In general, you should:

  • record everything you did
  • take accurate readings
  • record your results in a neat and clear table
  • put the units of measurement in the table headings only (not in the body of the table with your results)

This is a lot to take in, but try to be critical of your handiwork.

Answer this question: Have you recorded your observations and measurements clearly and accurately?

Clear and accurate records

Wow! You worked safely, and you made plenty of accurate observations or measurements which you recorded clearly. This gives your teacher evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Obtaining. To get further, your experiments must have been carried out particularly well.

Take a long hard look at what you have done. In general, you should:

  • have used a lot of equipment
  • have made a wide range of measurements (e.g. temperature, time, volume, mass)
  • used the equipment carefully
  • recorded readings to the precision of the apparatus (e.g. if the balance reads 121.1g this is what you have recorded, not 121g)
  • taken a lot of readings
  • when the results are plotted on a graph, they provide a clear picture with the results clustered close to any trend line (i.e. reliable results)

This is a lot to take in, but try to be critical of your handiwork. Your teacher should be able to provide advice, too, as sometimes the investigation itself was not demanding enough to get 8 marks.

Answer this question: Have you met the syllabus requirements for 8 marks?

Simple explanation of your results

Skill A (Analysing) is often badly done. In a whole investigation, for example, you might have spent a lot of time working on your Plan and getting beautiful Results, but then you seem to run out of steam at the end. Watch out Ė Skill A counts for as many marks as Skills P and O!

Look at your analysis. Have you at least made a simple statement about what your results show? A good way to set out your sentence is to write ď ..... happens because .....Ē.
The sort of thing you might write includes:

  • magnesium was more reactive than copper because it fizzed in acid but the copper did not
  • the reaction went fastest with the most concentrated acid because this one took the least time

Remember, of course, that these are two very general examples: your statement will have to fit the experiment you did and the results you got.

Answer this question: Have you explained simply what you found out?

Diagrams, charts and graphs

Good job! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. This gives your teacher evidence for 2 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To get higher marks, you need to show your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs. This is an interesting one, because there are two main ways to show you can do it.

  1. Look back at your Results. If you have put your results in a neat table, you will probably be able to answer yes to the question below.
     
  2. Look at your Analysis. If you have put your results into a simple bar chart or graph, you will probably be able to answer yes to the question below.

Answer this question: Have you shown your findings in a diagram, chart or graph?

Trends and patterns

Great so far! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out, and you have shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs. This gives your teacher some evidence for 4 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To be sure of those 4 marks, you need to identify trends and patterns in your findings.  For example:

  • in an experiment where you react different metals with acid, you might be able to put the metals into a reactivity series based on how much fizzing went on
     
  • in a rates of reaction experiment, you might notice that the hotter the reaction mixture was, the faster the reaction seemed to go

Remember, these are just general examples. Donít assume that just because you have spotted something like this, it is dead obvious to everybody Ė write it down!

Answer this question: Have you identified trends and patterns in your findings?

Processing results for a conclusion

Spot on! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. You have shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs, and you have identified trends and patterns in your results. This gives your teacher evidence for 4 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To get higher marks, you need to be able to process your results for a conclusion. You can do this in either of two ways:

  1. Using numerical methods. This sounds awful, but it really means doing some maths on your results. This can include working out averages, changes in temperature or mass, or more complex things like heats of combustion.
  2. Drawing graphs. You will have done this already to get this far in the Tune-up Garage, but to get 6 marks your graph must have a line (or curve) of best fit. And it really has to be a convincing one Ė no wobbly bits or dodgy shading.

Answer this question: Have you processed your results for a conclusion?

A conclusion with scientific knowledge

Very good! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. You have processed your results for a conclusion and shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs (with a line of best fit), and you have identified trends and patterns in your results. This gives your teacher some evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To be sure of 6 marks, you need to be able to make a conclusion that fits your results, and you have to back it up with scientific knowledge and understanding.

Look carefully at your conclusion. Ask yourself the following things:

  1. Have I made a conclusion?
  2. Does my conclusion actually fit my results, even if it seems different from what I predicted or expected?
  3. Have I involved some scientific knowledge or understanding in my conclusion?

For example, you might have concluded that the reaction went fastest in warm acid because the acid particles had more energy and so collided more often with the metal particles. This is only an outline of what you might do, of course, and it is sensible to ask your teacher if you are not certain.

Answer this question: Can you answer yes to the three questions above?

A conclusion with detailed scientific knowledge

Excellent! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. You have processed your results for a conclusion and shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs (with a line of best fit), and you have identified trends and patterns in your results. You have also made a conclusion that fits your results, and you have backed it up with scientific knowledge and understanding. This gives your teacher evidence for 6 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To get more than 6 marks, you need to be able to explain your conclusion using detailed scientific knowledge and understanding. This is a tricky one, and it may be possible that the investigation itself is not demanding enough to give you access to 8 marks. However, you can get a fair idea by looking at how much explanation you have given. A few lines will probably not be enough. It is best to assume that the person reading your explanation is not exactly thick, but they donít know what itís all about! Itís your job to really get into the science of the thing and explain it in detail.

Answer this question: Have you used detailed scientific knowledge in your explanation?

Your prediction revisited

Excellent! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. You have processed your results for a conclusion and shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs (with a line of best fit), and you have identified trends and patterns in your results. You have also made a conclusion that fits your results, and you have explained it up with detailed scientific knowledge and understanding. This gives your teacher some evidence for 8 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To grab the 8 marks, you need to be able to show how your results support or undermine your prediction.

Answer this question: Did you make a prediction?

Your prediction revisited

Excellent! Youíve explained at least simply what you have found out. You have processed your results for a conclusion and shown your findings in diagrams, charts or graphs (with a line of best fit), and you have identified trends and patterns in your results. You have also made a conclusion that fits your results, and you have explained it up with detailed scientific knowledge and understanding. This gives your teacher some evidence for 8 marks out of 8 for Analysing. To grab the 8 marks, you need to be able to show how your results support or undermine your prediction.  Look carefully at your results tables, graphs and conclusions. Compare your findings with your predictions made at the Planning stage:

  • if your results match your predictions, you should explain how they support your prediction
  • if your results do not match your predictions, you should explain how they undermine your prediction
Answer this question: Have you explained how your results support or undermine your prediction?

Look carefully at your full report, check it for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ask someone else to read through it for you also. Perhaps someone who has not done the experiment to see if it makes sense to them. After all that - hand it in to your teacher. Good luck - although if you have followed all this advice you wont really need luck!