Specifications are updated over time.... so although you may find this interactive syllabus extract useful, you must regularly check the OCR site for any amendments before you sit the examination.

This resource links syllabus extracts to pages in my site that may help you understand the context and see the kind of examination questions that are set at GCSE Level.

Learners in England who are beginning a GCSE (9–1) course are likely to have followed a Key Stage 3 programme of study. Therefore familiarity with basic knowledge and terminology from KS3 is assumed.

Studying science is like building a wall - you need sturdy foundation levels to build upon. Where I think it is helpful I have linked suitable KS3 material, but ensure you are rigorous in your recall of units, their correct abbreviations and the prefixes commonly used with them.

I have written some 'help' pages to enhance your skills and enable your successful study of science. Take a look at them - there are several topics that will help you improve your general skills.... such as the meaning of 'examination words'. Do bother to take a look! There are lots of interesting pages....

Units you should know:


P1: Radiation and waves

From study at Key Stages 1 to 3 you should:

have observed waves on water, spring, and strings

know the meaning of the terms longitudinal, transverse, superposition, and frequency, in the context of waves

know that sound waves are longitudinal and need a medium to travel through and that sound travels at different speeds in solids, in water, and in air

know that sound is produced when objects vibrate and that sound waves are detected by the vibrations they cause

know some of the similarities and differences between light waves and waves in matter

be able to use a ray model of light to describe and explain reflection in mirrors, refraction and dispersion by glass and the action of convex lenses

know that light incident on a surface may be absorbed, scattered, or reflected, and that light transfers energy from a source to an absorber, where it may cause a chemical or electrical effect.

P1.1 What are the risks and benefits of using radiations?
P1.2 What is climate change and what is the evidence for it?
P1.3 How do waves behave?
P1.4 What happens when light and sound meet different materials? (separate science only)

P2: Sustainable energy

From study at Key Stages 1 to 3 you should:

have compared energy uses and costs in domestic contexts, including calculations using a variety of units

have considered a variety of processes that involve transferring energy, including heating, changing motion, burning fuels and changing position in a field.

P2.1 How much energy do we use?
P2.2 How can electricity be generated?

P3: Electric circuits

From study at Key Stages 1 to 3 you should:

be familiar with the basic properties of magnets, and use these to explain and predict observations

know that there is a magnetic field close to any wire carrying an electric current

be aware of the existence of electric charge, and understand how simple electrostatic phenomena can be explained in terms of the movement of electrons between and within objects

understand the idea of an electric circuit (a closed conducting loop containing a battery) that conducts an electric current and be able to predict the current in branches of a parallel circuit

understand the idea of voltage as a measure of the 'strength' of a battery or power supply

know that electrical resistance is measured in ohms and can be calculated by dividing the voltage across the component by the current through it

know that the power ratings of electrical appliances are related to the rate at which the appliances transfers energy.

P3.1 What is electric charge? (separate science only)
P3.2 What determines the current in an electric circuit?
P3.3 How do series and parallel circuits work?
P3.4 What determines the rate of energy transfer in a circuit?
P3.5 What are magnetic fields?
P3.6 How do electric motors work?
P3.7 What is the process inside an electric generator? (separate science only)

P4: Explaining motion

From study at Key Stages 1 to 3 you should:

describe motion using words and with distance–time graphs

use the relationship average speed = distance ÷ time

identify the forces when two objects in contact interact; pushing, pulling, squashing, friction, turning

use arrows to indicate the different forces acting on objects, and predict the net force when two or more forces act on an object

know that the forces due to gravity, magnetism and electric charge are all non-contact forces

understand how the forces acting on an object can be used to explain its motion.

P4.1 What are forces?
P4.2 How can we describe motion?
P4.3 What is the connection between forces and motion?
P4.4 How can we describe motion in terms of energy transfers?

P5: Radioactive materials

There is no formal learning about radioactivity before Key Stage 4, but you will have ideas about radioactivity, nuclear energy and radiation from everyday language.

From Topic P1.2 you should:

recall that in each atom its electrons are arranged at different distances from the nucleus

recall that gamma rays are emitted from the nuclei of atoms

be able to describe how ionising radiation can have hazardous effects, notably on human bodily tissues.

P5.1 What is radioactivity?
P5.2 How can radioactive materials be used safely?
P5.3 How can radioactive materials be used to provide energy? (separate science only)


P6: Matter – models and explanations

From study at Key Stages 1 to 3 you should:

be able to use a particulate model of matter to explain states of matter and changes of state

have investigated stretching and compressing materials and identifying those that obey Hooke's law

be able to describe how the extension or compression of an elastic material changes as a force is applied, and make a link between the work done and energy transfer during compression or extension • have investigated pressure in liquids and related this to floating and sinking

be able to relate atmospheric pressure to the weight of air overhead.

P6.1 How does energy transform matter?
P6.2 How does the particle model explain the effects of heating?
P6.3 How does the particle model relate to material under stress?
P6.4 How does the particle model relate to pressure in fluids? (separate science only)
P6.5 How can scientific models help us understand the Big Bang? (separate science only)


P7: Ideas about Science

These are woven into the content above and will be examined within the above topics.

- What needs to be considered when investigating phenomenon scientifically?

- What conclusions can we make from data?

- How are scientific explanations developed?

- How do science and technology impact society?

P8: Practical Skills

These are delivered within the context of P1-P6.