GCSE Document Reference
Fundamentals of algorithm
Efficiency of algorithms
Arithmetic operations in a programming language
Relational operations in a programming language
Boolean operations in a programming language
Input/output and file handling
String handling operations in a programming language
Random number generation in a programming language
Subroutines (procedures and functions)
Robust and secure programming
Classification of programming languages
Fundamentals of data representation
Converting between number bases
Units of information
Hardware and software
Fundamentals of computer networks
Fundamentals of cyber security
Cyber security threats
Methods to detect and prevent cyber security threats
Ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology on wider society, including issues of privacy
Congrats, you’ve almost made it – you’re about to get a GCSE in Computer Science! It’s likely starting to dawn on you that your exams are around the corner and that you have a lot to prepare. But don’t worry, help is here! We’ve got all the guidance you need to get you on track to acing all of your exams! First thing’s first – do you have
a revision plan? If not, it’s time to create a well-structured and thought out study plan. Once you have that half of the job is done. All that’s left is to follow it diligently until exam day. To support you as you prepare for your GCSE Computer Science exams, here’s all you have to know about them and how we can help you.
GCSE subject content is most often quite standardised across the different examination board to give everyone an equal chance to do well and be prepared for future studies.
However, there are some small and common differences between what each exam board places most weight on during exams. AQA, in particular, is known for placing a lot of emphasis on theory. This means you should have your definitions and theories ready for exam day as you are likely to be tested on them directly (not just through context-based questions).
About the Board
For some history and context, AQA (or the Assessment and Qualification Alliance) is an exam board that was created all the way in 2000 after a series of mergers of exam boards in the 1990s. It has grown into one of the largest exam boards in the country as it offers a very wide range of secondary school certifications. In the parliament,
Westminster has debated whether GCSE courses should be graded in a modular or linear way. Currently, the AQA Computer Science course is linear, which means
that you can only get your qualification if you sit all of your exams at the end of the course and pass.
How long will the course take to complete?
Most people take two years to complete the GCSE Computer Science course. But, bear in mind that it is possible to do it in less time (one academic year) or to start early and take more time (three years).
Is any prior knowledge required?
AQA does not ask for any prior knowledge or course completion in order for you to take the GCSE Computer Science course.
What will I study?
Throughout your AQA GCSE Computer Science course you will learn about the fundamentals of algorithms; programming; fundamentals of data representation; computer systems; fundamentals of computer networks; fundamentals of cybersecurity; ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology on wider society,
including issues of privacy; aspects of software development; and, programming project. In addition, you’ll also get to do a programming project.
What is the examination process like?
The examination process to get your GCSE Computer Science certificate consists of two written papers and one programming project. The first written assessment (Computational Thinking and Problem Solving) will last 1 hour and 30 minutes and count for 50% of your final grade. The second written paper (Written Assessment) will test your theoretical knowledge and last 1 hour and 30 minutes, also counting for 50% of your final mark. Finally, while the programming project doesn’t count toward
your final grade, you are required to complete it. The purpose of the project is to develop your ability to use the knowledge and skills you gained throughout the course to solve a problem. You will be required to produce a computer programme to solve the programming project and to write a report totalling 20 hours of timetabled work.
You are advised to revise for a few hours each day in order to prepare for your GCSE Computer Science exams. Two to three hours a day would be ideal as this would give you enough time to enter deep learning without risking burnout. While you are revising computer science, you are advised to stay away from distractions on your computer during revision hours. Keep them as a treat for the end of the revision session instead and watch your productivity improve.
Revision though, especially for a practical subject like this, is much more than just reading textbooks. One of the good ways to spend your revision time is to make mind maps and flashcards. You can not only use what you create for later revision but the very process of making it will help you retain more information! As time passes, begin to do timed practice papers by using past exam papers. Chances are, you haven’t done too many exams under timed conditions yet. This is a great way to test yourself and learn how to manage your time under pressure ahead of the big day. Those of us at GCSE Computer Science are cheering for you. To help you succeed we’ve got many different revision resources like mind maps, quizzes and past papers waiting for you. So let’s get started!