Science Biology Gcse Coursework

AQA's CAU (Centre Assessed Unit)

GCSE Science has changed. So has the way coursework is assessed. Here we bring you comprehensive support for AQA's ISA.

  • Support for other boards will follow in due course.

  • AQA GCSE Science: CAU

    ISA | Glossary

    The three GCSE sciences approach coursework in the same way: this section is relevant to all.

    Most students do all three sciences as a double award (i.e. Core then Additional) and will do two CAUs: one for each level. You may do more, but only two will be submitted.

    If you're doing separate sciences, you will need to submit one CAU for each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.


    One of the best things about the CAU is that their format is almost identical across the Sciences: once you learn something in one, it applies to the others. There are two written papers known as the ISA.

    ISA: Investigative Skills Assignments

    This is by far the most important aspect of the CAU. It is worth 50 marks in total and involves researching, planning, carrying out and analysing an experiment. All of this is assessed through two written papers, completed in school time under exam conditions.

    For advice on each section, click below:

      ISA - time to show off your practical skills!
      Glossary - key words for ISA success!

    Controlled Assessment

    Useful Downloads

    Unit 3 is to be submitted electronically
    This link opens in a new window

    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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