A level science practical endorsement

Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Physics A levels JCQ examination boards in England for AQA, Edexcel and OCR Telephone: 01494 911338 Email: Exams@theexamhouse.co.uk

Practical lab skills developed using time in the laboratory to carry out experiments

Although the experiments do not carry a mark. They do carry a ‘Pass’. What they test is laid out below in brief below.


A level science: Assessment of practical skills

Although the experiments do not carry a mark. They do carry a ‘Pass’. What they test is laid out below in brief below.

On your A level certificate award of the practical endorsement will be shown.

Where: Oxford and Buckingham

Do note, AS level does not require practical endorsement. Nor direct assessment on your ability to use practical lab based skills. However AS level qualifications -  like A level qualifications – will include questions about the theory and application of practical skills.


Students must be studying A-level Biology with AQA, Edexcel or OCR by distance learning or at a further education centre.

12 specified practical experiments;

minimum of 12 specified practical activities

Provide evidence of application of investigative approaches and methods to practical work while:

  • keep a record of your practical work

  • including your assessed practical activities.

  • If you demonstrate the required standard across all the requirements of the CPAC you will receive a “pass” grade.

In order to achieve a “pass” grade with the  Common Practical Assessment Criteria you will need to have met the following expectations:

. Follow written procedures follow instructions to carry out experimental techniques or procedures in the lab.

Investigative approaches and methods when using laboratory instruments and equipment

This includes how to handle instruments, apparatus and materials to carry out lab investigative activities. Including computer based activities, selection of equipment and experimental techniques and procedures with minimal assistance or prompting.

Methods include sequence, combination, identifying and over coming practical issues with adjustments where necessary.

Safety at the heart of Lab work:

Practical equipment, if used incorrectly can be dangerous. Identifying hazards and risks that come with the equipment is a key part of the science. Be it in the field or in the lab.

Lab Observation

Accurate observations relevant to the experiment at hand or investigation is a key skill.

Data collecting and handling with medically recording using the correct and appropriate units and conventions.

Reference, Researching and Reporting

a. Use appropriate tools including software to process data, carry out research and report findings. b. Cite sources of information. While demonstrating that research has taken place. Supporting the planning of the research and deliver what ever conclusions can be drawn.

Why do exam candidates need practical A level science for success at university?

practical work at A level is key to understanding the challenge for science courses at university.

Key important transferable skills that will help with your degree study and which include:

  • Observation

  • Analysing results

  • Evaluating your own work and that of others

  • Testing out theories and ideas which you have developed

  • Developing problem solving strategies

  • Developing team work and taking responsibility

  • Communicating ideas and results with peers and teachers

  • Developing confidence to learn independently and to question the world around you

Passing the A level science practical endorsement shows that you have demonstrated these skills.


Skills learnt at A level practical endorsement

Include observation, problem solving, lab work and safety

Do I need the practical endorsement for my university application?

Many universities will require the A level practical endorsement as part of their admissions criteria for a wide range of courses.  When making a UCAS application on your behalf The Exam House is required to indicate whether or not you are predicted to pass the A level science practical assessment in the same way as the main A level exams.

See below quotes from undergraduate degree course policies :

“We will therefore require applicants who are offering one or more of these reformed A level science subjects in England to pass the practical skills assessment in addition to achieving the required grade(s) in the written examination(s).” Policy statement – University of Reading

From the university of Sheffield: “Practical skills are a crucial part of science education and the University of Sheffield will expect students to pass the practical element of any science A Level taken.”

And from the University of Southampton: “The University of Southampton believes that practical skills in the sciences are integral to a candidate’s understanding and appreciation of these subjects and it will require all applicants offering one or more of these subjects at A level to pass the practical skills assessment in addition to achieving the required grade(s) in the written examination(s).”

The University of Oxford clearly puts it: “If a practical component forms part of any of the A-levels taken, we expect candidates to have taken it and passed.”

A level science practical endorsement