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Assessment in past papers

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Physics A level and GCSE syllabi have not previously tackled ethical controversies in depth. 

Where they do address ethical or social issues, such as in this example from the Edexcel Salters Horners specimen synoptic paper,  the format usually allows the student to simply list their points.

  1. Why is it desirable to increase the percentage of the electricity requirements provided by renewable energy? Give one problem in increasing the production of electricity from wind power.(2 marks)

But this question from AQA Science for Public Understanding GCE AS is more challenging and expects unsupported linked reasoning.

  1. Some people think that intelligent life similar to humans would have evolved even if the dinosaurs had not been wiped out. Others think that humans evolved because of a series of lucky accidents like the extinction of the dinosaurs – and might well not have appeared had any one of these events not occurred.
    1. Choose the point of view which you think is more likely to be correct and explain the reasoning behind your choice. (2)
    2. Suggest how an individual scientist’s social or religious interests or commitments might influence which of these hypotheses s/he favours. (2)

Here a GCSE question from OCR 21st Century GCSE Physics A specimen paper scaffolds the reasoning expected.

  1. Dentists use X-rays to examine teeth.
    Up until the 1950s children’s feet were X-rayed to check the fit of shoes.
    Use ideas about cost and benefit to discuss why dentists do use X-rays and shoe shops do not.    [2]

Later in the same paper the mark scheme indicates a mark of [2+1] for a question where the [+1] is for a clear, ordered argument.

Click to enlarge

In the example right, also from the OCR 21st Century Science suite, the arguments are presented for the student to choose from.

The mark scheme is a clear signal as to the level of reasoned argument expected. If you have any practice questions that you feel work well please do send them to us to share with others on this site.

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