Please note the 2 following points,


1. Double science may also be referred to as Combined science as it is a mixture of all the 3 sciences.

2. As the AQA exam board is by far the most common exam board used in English schools I have based the structural differences between Double award (Trilogy) and Triple science (the 3 individual sciences) on the AQA curriculum.

Double Science (Combined Science)
• Students study Biology / chemistry / physics and students awarded are awarded 2 full GCSE's.
• The grades given can be the same, for example 8,8 or may be different for example 5,4. 
• Each exam paper is 1hr 15 min long.
• There are 2 papers for each subject totalling 6 papers. 
• Each paper has a total of 70 marks meaning each paper is worth 16.7% of the final grade.
• The course exams are described as “Linear exams” meaning, all the exams are taken at the end of course.
• Typical hours studied in the classroom is 3-4 hrs a week. This means most state school students will probably have a science lesson 4 days a week. Please note the amount of time allocated to science varies greatly across schools, as every school operates within their own unique circumstances.
• Students can opt for Foundation or Higher level, which ever might be appropriate.

Triple Science 
• Students study Biology / chemistry / physics as separate GCSE's and are awarded 3 individual GCSE's. 
• Each individual subject will be awarded its own individual GCSE grade.
• Each exam paper is 1 hour and 45 min in length.
• Each paper out of 100 marks. 
• Each subject has 2 exam papers, each carry 50% of the marks.
• The total amount of papers sat is 6 papers.
• Students can take Foundation or higher per subject ie foundation chemistry & physics and higher Biology, or take all foundation, or all higher papers. 
• All exam papers taken at end of course. (linear)
• Students typically study anywhere from 6- 8 hours a week, but again this varies from school to school. It does mean students studying triple science probably have science every day!

I thought it might be appropriate to briefly describe the types of questions students will be expected to answer whether they are studying combined science or the single sciences, during their final examinations.
Each examination paper regardless of science subject or level will contain the following types of questions.

Question types- structured, unstructured, closed short answer, open response. The proportions of each may vary year on year and across the subjects but should remain roughly balanced.

Structured: These are usually short answer questions with clearly defined answers. They usually have Command words like state, name, give example of or what is...

Unstructured: This type of question tends to carry more marks; they require not only observations but also scientific reasoning. They contain words like explain, describe, therefore, and you will need to link observations to theory. This could be from experimental data or a written paragraph.

Closed short answer: These are similar to structured answers, they have short but specific answers. They could involve a calculation for example with a single answer. They could be a multiple choice or explain why.

Open response: These are open ended questions where the student is expected to interpret data, a chart or observations. They lend themselves to questions about experiments for example. They contain words like, explain, what, discuss, show and why for example.

What every parent wants to know:
“Should my son / daughter study combined or triple science?”

Before I answer this question, can I say there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The answer is really for the individual student to consider, but I suggest students seek the advice from their teachers especially as they should know their students and be able to give the best advice.

Here is a list of considerations I would encourage students to think about when choosing whether to study Double or Triple science. They are my opinions.

1. The real difference between the two is the workload. Triple science is not necessarily academically harder than Double award, there is just more of it.

2. Because the Triple award is a larger curriculum students will probably study science every school day or may have double lessons.

3. The homework commitment for triple will be larger than double as it reflects 3 GCSEs.

4. Anecdotally, students tend to score higher and get higher grades with double award. I have no data to confirm this but think this may be due to students having less work to revise and learn.

5. Sometimes parents have asked me, “Do universities want students to have studied Triple award, especially if they do a science degree?” I think this is probably not necessarily the case. Universities look at the UCAS application which includes a personal statement, tutor references and they will offer places based on grades at A level. It is more important the student chooses A levels they are actually interested in. 

6. Most schools will accept students onto A level science courses regardless of whether the student did Triple or Double award.

7. My last point is, Students should choose Triple science if they are really interested in science and really like studying it. This is because as I have already said, they will be spending a lot of time, probably every school day doing one or 2 lessons of science. I would resist doing triple science because I think “I should do it.” It is a lot of work and can be very challenging.

I hope this has made things a little clearer, Tim.