Practical questions

You will complete 21 required practical activities if you are studying GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy. 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 questions 1 - Foundation


A student investigated the strength of different fridge magnets by putting small sheets of paper between each magnet and the fridge door.

The student measured the maximum number of sheets of paper that each magnet was able to hold in place.

a) Why was it important that each small sheet of paper had the same thickness? [1 mark]

When carrying out a scientific investigation it is important to only change one variable so that it is clear how that variable affects the results.

Before starting the investigation, the student wrote the following hypothesis:

‘The bigger the area of a fridge magnet the stronger the magnet will be.’

The student’s results are given in the table below.

Fridge MagnetArea of magnet in mm²Number of sheets of paper held

b) Give one reason why the results from the investigation do not support the student’s hypothesis. [1 mark]

a) Any one of:

  • so the results for each magnet can be compared
  • so there is only one independent variable


b) The results do not support the student’s hypothesis because the magnet with the biggest area was not the strongest [1].

It is a common misunderstanding that bigger magnets should be stronger. This is not the case as the results show that magnet A was the strongest despite having the smallest area.

Sample question 2 - Foundation/Higher


The figure below shows a straight wire passing through a piece of card.

A current (I) is passing down through the wire:

Circuit with a cell and a piece of card, current is shown passing through the circuit.

Describe how you could show that a magnetic field has been produced around the wire. [2 marks]

Two marks for any one of:

  • Move a compass around the wire. The changing direction of the compass needle shows a magnetic field has been produced.
  • Sprinkle iron filings onto the card. Tapping the card will move the filings to show the magnetic field.


Magnetic fields can be shown using either a compass or iron filings. The answer should include how the field is shown as well as the method used.