Practical questions

You will complete 21 required practical activities if you are studying GCSE combined science: Synergy. You could be asked questions about the apparatus, methods, safety precautions, results, analysis and evaluation of these experiments.

There will be a number of different types of practical based questions. Some will be on the set required practicals, some will cover the working scientifically terms and some will be on other science practicals which you might have done in class. Use all the information given in the question particularly any diagrams to help you understand what the question is about.

This page contains AQA material which is reproduced by permission of AQA.

Sample question 1 - Foundation

Alpha, beta and gamma are types of nuclear radiation.

A teacher sets up a demonstration of the penetration properties of alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

Here is a diagram that shows the demonstration.

Three types of radiation that have individual strengths

a) Complete the diagram by writing the name of the radiation in each box. [2 marks]

b) Give two safety precautions the teacher should take in the demonstration. [2 marks]

a) Gamma, beta, alpha (2 marks for all three correct; 1 mark for one or two correct)

Alpha radiation is stopped by paper, beta radiation by aluminium and gamma is stopped by lead

b) Any two from:

  • do not point (radioactive) source at students [1]
  • keep source outside the box for minimum time necessary [1]
  • wear safety glasses or eye protection or do not look at source [1]
  • wear gloves [1]
  • hold source away from body [1]
  • hold source with tongs / forceps [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Blood glucose concentration in humans must be kept between 4.4 and 6.1 mmol per dm3.

Four students, A, B, C and D, tested their blood glucose concentration with glucose testing strips.

The results of their tests and the key from the test strip bottle are shown below.

Four glucose testing strips labelled A to D

a) Which student, A, B, C or D, has diabetes and has eaten a large piece of cake? [1 mark]

b) Which student, A, B, C or D, is in most need of eating carbohydrates? [1 mark]

c) Which student, A, B, C or D, has a healthy blood glucose concentration? [1 mark]

a) Student B [1].

b)Student D [1].

c) Student C [1].

Sample question 3 - Higher

Statins are drugs used to treat coronary heart disease (CHD).

New drugs must be trialled before they can be licensed for use.

Some scientists trialled two different types of statin.

The scientists:

  • conducted the trial on 325 patients with a history of CHD in their family
  • used a double-blind trial method
  • measured the change in blood cholesterol levels over two years
  • measured the change in thickness of an artery wall over two years

A table showing the results of the trial.

Drug ADrug B
Number of patients who died during the trial12
Number of patients who reported aching muscles1617
Number of patients who reported mild abdominal cramps1816
Change in blood cholesterol level in percentage-50.5-41.2
Change in thickness of artery wall in mm-0.0033+0.032

a) Drug A is more effective than Drug B.

Give two reasons that support this conclusion.

Use information from the table. [2 marks]

b) A scientist concludes that Drug A is safer than Drug B.

Give two reasons why this is not a valid conclusion. [2 marks]

a) Drug A reduced the blood cholesterol level more than Drug B [1].

Drug A reduced the thickness of the artery or Drug B increased the thickness of the artery [1].

b) The number of patients reporting side effects are very similar [1].

We do not know what the patients died of [1].

Sample question 4 - Higher


Coronary heart disease (CHD) can be caused by many factors.

The table shows data related to CHD for five countries.

CountryNumber of deaths from CHD per 100,000 population per yearPercentage of population who smoke tobaccoPercentage of the population who drink alcohol heavilyAmount of fruit and vegetables eaten in kg per person per year

A student concludes that the main cause of CHD is not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

Give three reasons why the student's conclusion is not correct.

Use information from the table. [3 marks]

The second highest death rate has the highest fruit and vegetable consumption [1].

The lowest death rates do not have high fruit and vegetable consumption [1].

Lowest death rates have a low percentage of the population that smokes [1].