Practical questions

You will complete 12 required Specified Practical Activities if you are studying GCSE Chemistry, and 27 if you are studying GCSE Combined Science (nine of these are in Chemistry). These help you develop some key practical techniques in Chemistry.

You could be asked questions about the apparatus, methods, safety precautions, results, analysis and evaluation of these experiments.

There is one Specified Practical Activity in the 'Production, use and disposal of important chemicals and materials' section:

  • Determination of the percentage of water in a hydrated salt, eg copper(II) sulfate

These questions have been written by Bitesize consultants as suggestions to the types of questions that may appear in an exam paper.

Sample question 1 - Foundation


A student wants to separate a mixture of aluminium and steel cans for recycling.

Describe how she could use a magnet to separate the cans.

[2 marks]

Place the magnet next to each can in turn [1]

Steel is attracted to the magnet, but aluminium is not [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


In one plastic recycling process, mixed plastic waste is cut into flakes.

The flakes are then mixed with water:

  • Some types of plastic are less dense than water. These plastics float.
  • Other types of plastic are more dense than water. These plastics sink.

The table gives density data for four different types of plastic.

The density of water is 1 g/cm3

PlasticDensity (g/cm3)
Low density polythene 0.91 - 0.93
Polypropene0.90 - 0.92
Polystyrene1.03 - 1.06
PVC1.32 - 1.42

a) Suggest how a student could separate a mixture of PVC and polypropene flakes. Describe what he should do and explain how he will know which plastic is which. [3 marks]

b) Explain why the student could not use this method to separate a mixture of polypropene and low density polythene flakes. [2 marks]

a) Put the flakes in a container of water [1]

The PVC flakes are more dense than water so they will sink [1]

The polypropene flakes are less dense than water so they will float [1]

b) Both types of plastic are less dense than water [1] so both types of plastic will float [1]