Changes to GCSE Science Qualifications

Science qualifications studied by 14 to 16-year-old students in Wales were changed for first teaching in September 2016.

All schools in Wales now offer some of or all the following WJEC GCSE science qualifications:

Biology Chemistry Physics Science (Double Award) Applied Science (Double Award) Applied Science (Single Award)

These qualifications replaced the combination of GCSE and BTEC qualifications previously available.


The GCSE science qualifications are different from the legacy qualifications in several ways.

  • The content has been updated.
  • Practical assessment makes up 10% of the assessment of the science GCSEs and 20% of the applied science GCSEs.
  • There is a focus on student’s scientific literacy.
  • Written exam papers are only available in the summer exam series and grades will only be issued at the end of the two-year course.

Support from WJEC

WJEC has provided a range of support to help teachers deliver the Science GCSEs which can be found on their main website, their digital resources and secure site. Hodder have published a series of text books for WJEC.

Support from Welsh Government and Regional Consortium With government funding each regional consortium produced bilingual resources which can be found on the HWB site.

Teachers can keep up to date regarding new resources by signing up to the the weekly Dysg e-newsletter. Information on performance measures can be found on the Welsh Government’s website

Resource implications

The new science GCSEs place a greater emphasis on practical skills than in previous GCSEs; this will mean that science departments will need to ensure that they have adequate resources to teach the new qualifications.

WJEC have produced guidance for teachers and science technicians that clearly detail the specific equipment and resource requirements for teaching and assessing practical work which can be found on website.

More information on the changes made and the support available can be found on the document sent out to centres.