Science, along with English and Maths, is a core subject at Common Entrance meaning it is a compulsory subject. The Science syllabus and exams are written by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) and the aim of the syllabus is to:
At Common Entrance, science teaching is typically split into the three disciplines: Chemistry, Physics and Biology. If your child, prior to starting Year 7, were to flick through the syllabus, they would probably be familiar to some degree with a fair amount of the content already – the course picks up on previously learnt subject matter and expands on it further. There will be, however, some brand new ideas and concepts that will need learning for the first time for example: moments and pressure in Physics; the reactivity series and decomposition in Chemistry; reproduction in Biology to name just a few.
An outline of the key areas and topics can be found in the below.
There are some clear links (and so some overlapping) between the three disciplines meaning that, for example, whilst teaching a topic in Biology, various links (within the Chemistry syllabus) may conveniently be covered at the same time. For example, respiration as a Biological life process is a chemical reaction which has reactants and products.
The entire syllabus for candidates sitting the exams in 2018 can be found here:
There is not all that much difference between the existing syllabus and the new syllabus – there have been some small additions to the new one as well as some movement of previous topics to earlier years.
There are three different exam levels:
A handful of questions simply require recall of learnt matter whilst others require higher-level thinking and being able to apply the learnt matter to the question in hand. Using real life situations and / or experiments is becoming increasingly common in the questioning so being able to apply knowledge is high priority. Indeed, the syllabus makes clear reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive learning whereby ‘Remembering’ and ‘Understanding’ are at the base of the pyramid – the basic learning foundations – leading to ‘Applying’, ‘Analysing’, ‘Evaluating’ and finally ‘Creating’. ISEB states in the syllabus that a minimum of 25% of the paper will be based on ‘working scientifically’ which could include: procedures for experimenting; deciding on suitable apparatus; health and safety issues and precautions; presenting results; making conclusions and identifying patterns; ensuring fair testing.