The MOST commonly asked questions about GCSE Double (Combined) Science  

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The most common single question asked about GCSE Science is:

Given the choice, should I choose Combined or triple Sciences for my GCSEs?

It can be hard to know which one to choose or even what the difference between them is. This article aims to help you make a much more informed decision. 

Let’s break the above question down into sub-questions!

What is the difference between Combined and Triple Science?

Combined Science (also known as Double Science) is where you study the three sciences together and receive a combined grade of 2 GCSEs.   In contrast, with Triple Science you study the same three sciences BUT in a little more depth and with extra topics (extended content) and obtain 3 GCSEs.

Combined Science exams have different names with different exam boards, such as “Trilogy” and “Synergy”.  What is the difference?

The difference is essentially “Synergy” uses themes which combine Physics, Chemistry and Biology thus implying a link between these subjects rather than looking at them separately.  This approach does have it’s merits.

How hard is Triple compared to Combined Science?

Considering you may obtain 3 versus 2 GCSE’s you would expect the extra work required with Triple to be half as much again as doing Combined, but it’s not quite that simple. The exams for Triple require more “grown-up” answers for some questions and a deeper understanding of exam technique, something worth considering.

How much more work is Triple than Combined Science?

The smart answer here is, an unwelcome increase in workload if you are not keen on Science or you are not allocated more lesson time to complete the Triple.

If you really like Science you will have to work harder, sure, but also find it way more interesting.

How do the exams of both compare?

Note: There are variations between the 5 main exam boards; However they are, overall, similar enough to ignore.  At the last count Triple required 6 exams, 2 per subject obviously, and somewhat perversely Trilogy despite being a Double award GCSE required the same number! The good news is Synergy requires 4 exams, but you can expect the papers to be longer with more questions which makes sense.

Triple vs Combined – How do the PASS RATES of the exams compare?

You may be surprised.  In a nutshell, Triple Science pass rates (grade 4 upwards) are much higher than for Combined – in the region of 90% against 60%.  Why is this? It is thought that Triple Science students have more lesson time, study one less GCSE in another subject and show greater liking and aptitude for Science generally.

For a Science A level or Btec, do colleges discriminate when you apply with Double or Triple?

The short answer is no, according to the colleges we asked. The grade is more important than whether it is 3 GCSE’s versus 2.

Having said that, if the college places are limited and the competition fierce, a Triple could conceivably become a factor in the success of your application.

What effect if any will Combined Science have instead of Triple when embarking on a course of further education in a Science-based subject?

Because extended topics included in Triple give you more “depth”, chances are you will find for instance, the first year of A levels a little easier because more of the content will be something you are already seen.  However, whether this has a significant effect on your stress levels and test scores would depend more on how focused and hard-working you are.

That concludes our assessment of Combined versus Triple Science. We hope this blog will prove useful. From the point of view of us Science geeks, any Science is better than none, and there is no such thing as bad Science, but that is a topic for another day!

Mark Farren, Science tutor

Mark F

Science tutor at TuitionWorks

“I tutor Maths, Chemistry and Physics up to A-level difficulty. As a full-time professional tutor with over 25 years’ teaching/tutoring experience, I can help my students get the best exam grades possible, as well as impart the longer-term benefits of improved skills, knowledge and confidence.


I have perfected my remote tutoring skills in order to make lessons extremely effective, in some respects even better than in-person tuition.”
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