Biology Coursework Specification

These illustrate the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers learners will sit. These also include marking instructions.

General assessment information provides instructions for the conduct of coursework, an overview of the assessment task, evidence to be gathered and general marking instructions.

Coursework assessment tasks provide the live assessment task, including marking instructions and instructions for candidates. Teachers/lecturers can access these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.

The guidance on conditions for assessment provides clarity on acceptable conduct during coursework, including reasonable assistance.

These documents contain details of Unit assessment task(s), show approaches to gathering evidence and how the evidence can be judged against the Outcomes and Assessment Standards. Teachers/lecturers can arrange access to these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.

We are publishing examples of candidate evidence with commentaries as part of our Understanding Standards programme. These materials are for teachers and lecturers to help them develop their understanding of the standards required for assessment. As these materials become available, they are being published in the following locations:

  • Available from our secure website Materials relating to Unit assessment, internally assessed components of Course assessment, and externally assessed components of Course assessment which are subject to visiting assessment. Teachers and lecturers can arrange access to these materials through their SQA Co-ordinator.
  • Available from our Understanding Standards website Materials relating to externally assessed components of Course assessment, with the exception of those subject to visiting assessment.

More information on our Understanding Standards programme, can be found on our Understanding Standards page.

There was no verification activity at this level in 2017.


Controlled Assessment

Useful Downloads

Unit 3 is to be submitted electronically
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Agreement Trial PowerPoint Presentation - E-Moderation summer 2016
(PDF), Last Updated: 15 December 2015

Controlled Assessment General Guidance
(PDF), Last Updated: 23 September 2011

E Moderation FAQs
(PDF), Last Updated: 26 October 2015

E Moderation presentation Oct 2015
(PDF), Last Updated: 26 October 2015

E-Moderation Agreement Trial Information Pack - Autumn 2016
(PDF), Last Updated: 12 January 2017

E-Moderation Summer 2016 Agreement Trials Handout
(PDF), Last Updated: 15 December 2015

Exemplar Biology task 1
(PDF), Last Updated: 17 August 2012

Exemplar Biology task 2
(PDF), Last Updated: 17 August 2012

Exemplar Biology task 3
(PDF), Last Updated: 17 August 2012

GCSE Sciences Agreement Trial Nov 2013
(PPT), Last Updated: 13 November 2013

Sample Qualitative Controlled Assessment Task - Food Tests
(PDF), Last Updated: 17 April 2014

In GCSE Biology, Unit 3: Practical Skills is assessed by controlled assessment. This unit is worth 25 percent of the final mark. We set two controlled assessment tasks for each cohort of students.

We renew these each year to ensure that they continue to set appropriate challenges.

Students may complete one or both of the tasks set. If they choose to take both tasks, the higher mark will count towards their overall mark for the unit. Teachers mark the controlled assessments using criteria we provide, and we moderate them.

Each controlled assessment task is made up of three parts.

Part A – Planning and Risk Assessment
Students develop a hypothesis and plan an experiment to test it. They draw a blank table to record the results of their experiment, and carry out a risk assessment.

Part B – Data Collection
Students carry out the experiment and record the data collected in their results table.

Part C – Processing, Analysis and Evaluation
Students answer questions relating to their own work, demonstrating scientific knowledge and understanding. They also show their ability to process, analyse and evaluate information they have collected from their experiment.

For more information, see the specification.

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