Chemistry 30/09/2019

Chemistry GCSE 2019 – Examiner report update


This blog provides an updated summary of the examiner reports for the Chemistry GCSE Science papers. It covers both 2018 and 2019.

The introduction of the new ‘9-1’ Science GCSEs has been a challenging experience for students and teachers alike. Consequently, examiners’ reports are more useful than ever as a diagnostic tool to help teachers provide targeted guidance to students taking these exams in future.

This blog provides a summary of the examiners’ reports for both the 2018 and 2019 Chemistry papers. Next to each point, we highlight the relevant year.

The summary covers both combined science and the separate sciences, foundation tier and higher tier. We have used the examiner reports prepared for the AQA exam board, but the same lessons apply to students taking Edexcel and OCR exams.

The links below provide tables of grade boundaries for all three sciences.


In Chemistry, several new topics on the specification presented significant problems: this was the case in 2018 and then again in 2019. Many students confidently answer questions on topics which were part of preceding specifications for many years (e.g. equilibrium and qualitative analysis) but topics which are new to the 9-1specification were more problematic, including formulations, composites and condensation polymers. [2019]

Also, the new requirement for students to calculate instantaneous rates of reaction from graph tangents has led to confusion between this and the use of graphs to calculate mean rate of reaction over a specified time interval. [2019]

We’ve split the examiners comments into three categories: ‘Key exam skills’, ‘Graph skills’, and ‘Subject areas for development’.

Key exam skills

Key exam skills were lacking and accounted for a large share of lost marks, according to the examiners. A lack of exposure to basic terminology made it difficult for some students to access questions. There were some common misinterpretations due to lack of familiarity with common scientific terms such as ‘electronic structure’, ‘formula’ and ‘molten’ or ‘liquid’. [2019] There was confusion regarding the difference between a liquid and a solution. [2018]

The examiners commented regularly on errors that could have been addressed by improving students’ exam technique.


Graph skills

The errors above can be addressed by using My GCSE Science to help improve students’ exam technique. My GCSE Science long-form exam-style questions and corresponding mark schemes help students build an in-depth understanding of each topic while at the same time developing exam technique.

Our teachers have also prepared blogs that deal directly with exam skills and maths skills in Biology.


Subject areas for development

Below we outline specific topics in the curriculum which examiners identified as requiring further development.


My GCSE Science

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