7. Assessment

Current problems

Multiple choice papers do not give adequate opportunity to test abstract thinking.

Social implications of science are difficult to assess unless pupils are primed with the "right answers". They are better assessed as part of a separate paper with longer answers (eg "Ideas and Evidence" in 21C)

School based assessments are usually too open to coaching - the results reflect, not so much pupil's ability, but the science department's ability to advise the pupils about the sorts of answers required. Sc1 style "investigations" have to be selected on the opportunity to "tick the mark-scheme boxes". More open-ended practicals are too risky.

IAA style tasks (eg Edexcel) are designed to be done in exam conditions, but are mostly testing the pupils ability to remember the practical they did themselves and reproduce near-standardised answers to "evaluation".

We see little evidence than any such assessment can give useful summative results.


  • Assessment should be made of a mix of multi-choice, short answer, evidence assessment and practical tasks.
  • Testing of understanding, as well as knowledge should be achieved.
  • Opinions about social and environmental impact should not be assessed in multi-choice format.
  • School based practical tasks should constitute less than 20% of the total marks.

The opinions expressed below will be ordered and summarised coherently here.

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