Cambridge IGCSE Sciences Comparison – Coordinated vs. Combined

Timothy Hoffmann

Choosing your IGCSE science option can be tricky. Here is a brief comparison to help inform your choice!

The key difference between the Combined and Co-ordinated Science is that the Combined course is a single award – meaning you get one IGCSE from studying it (like you would one subject) – and the Co-ordinated course is a double award (you receive 2 IGCSEs – each with the same grade). Within each course you study Chemistry, Biology and Physics like you would as if you studied them as separate subjects but to differing extents in terms of the amount of content covered. In each course you will gain an understanding of the basic principles of each subject through both lab-based and classroom based work, developing an understanding of the scientific process and concepts needed for further study. You cannot take either of these subjects alongside any of the individual IGCSE science subjects or alongside the other (e.g. you can’t take combined and co-ordinated sciences together).

In both courses you can either follow the Core or the Extended syllabus, if you are aiming for above a C you should take the extended course.

 

Content Comparison:

Theme Combined Additional Subjects in Co-ordinated
Biology Characteristics of Organisms; Cells; Biological Molecules; Enzymes;  Plant Nutrition; Animal Nutrition; Transport; Gas Exchange; Coordination and Response;  Reproduction; Organisms and their Environment; Human Influences on Ecosystems Inheritance
Chemistry The Particulate Nature of Matter; Experimental Techniques; Atoms, Elements and Compounds;  Stoichiometry; Electricity and Chemistry; Energy Changes in Chemical Reactions; Chemical Reactions; Acids, Bases and Salts; The Periodic Table; Metals; Air and Water, Organic Chemistry Sulfur; Carbonates
Physics Physics; Motion; Work, Energy and Power; Thermal Physics; Properties of Waves; Electrical Quantities; Electric Circuits Electricity & magnetism; Electromagnetic effects; Atomic physics

The co-ordinated science course has a more comprehensive overview of the three sciences and is generally recommended for all students, including those who are looking to further their scientific studies. The combined course has less content and is designed for students who feel that their strengths do not lie in either the maths or sciences and doing this course would place less weighting on these subjects at GCSE. This course is less demanding on students and is generally not recommended for those who are looking to carry on scientific study to a higher level.  

Assessment and Grading:

If you take the core or extended curriculum in either subject (both co-ordinated and combined) you will sit 2 exam papers as below. Again, check the syllabus for specific information on each paper, but you can see the main structure of each exam below:

 

Paper 1: Multiple Choice Paper (CORE)
Time 45 minutes
Number of marks 40
Percentage of total grade 30%

 

Paper 2: Multiple Choice Paper (EXTENDED)
Time 45 minutes
Number of marks 40
Percentage of total grade 30%

 

Paper 3: Short Answer and Structured Questions (CORE)
Time 2 hours (co-ordinated) / 1 hour 15 minutes (combined)
Number of marks 120
Percentage of total grade 50

 

Paper 4: Short Answer and Structured Questions (EXTENDED)
Time 2 hours (co-ordinated) / 1 hour 15 minutes (combined)
Number of marks 120
Percentage of total grade 50%

 

In addition to this, if you do either extended or core you will either have to take paper 5 or 6, as below.

 

Paper 5: Practical Test
Time 2 hours (co-ordinated) / 1 hour 15 minutes (combined)
Number of marks 60
Percentage of total grade 20%
Type of questions Questions on experimental skills

 

Paper 6: Alternative to Practical
Time 1 hour 30 minutes (co-ordinated) / 1 hour (combined)
Number of marks 60
Percentage of total grade 20%
Type of questions Questions on experimental skills