Why Do Chemistry GCSE As A Single Science?

by Lucy Bell-Young

If you’re planning to study chemistry at ‘A’ Level, then you’ll need to have passed at least five GCSEs, and one of these should be in chemistry. If you’ve thought one step further, and are planning to pursue a specialised career in chemistry, taking Double Science (physics, chemistry and biology) at GCSE may not be the best option for you. You’ll be more prepared and knowledgeable in your field if you instead focus on studying Chemistry GCSE as a single science. 

What Do I Learn In GCSE Chemistry?

If you’re passionate about chemistry and are interested in pursuing one of its wide-ranging career paths, you might want to take chemistry as a Single Science GCSE rather than taking it as part of the combined Double Science GCSE. Doing this will give you a more in-depth and comprehensive grasp of advanced concepts in chemistry. The knowledge and skills that you’ll gain from GCSE Chemistry will then put you in better stead for studying chemistry at university

You’ll be introduced to many different chemistry topics when studying Chemistry GCSE. These are all important to learn, revise, and master if you want to deepen your understanding in this field and excel at ‘A’ Level and beyond. 

While the specific exams may vary depending on the awarding body, like AQA or Edexcel, the GCSE chemistry topics and subtopics you’ll study are essentially the same. Here’s what they look like at a glance: 

  • The structure of atoms and their place in the periodic table: GCSE Chemistry will teach you all about the properties of the elements and how they’re related, in terms of their arrangement in the periodic table.
  • How atoms form bonds and create specific molecular structures: This will give you a better understanding of the ionic bonds and covalent bonds formed between atoms and valence electrons, and how this interaction forms molecules.
  • Precise ways to measure and calculate chemical reactions: Elements and various compounds have different rates of reactions. GCSE Chemistry will show you how to measure these rates and extrapolate the available data.
  • Different types of chemical reactions and changes: Chemistry GCSE will also teach you all about the five basic types of chemical reactions, including combination reactions, decomposition reactions, single and double replacement reactions, and combustion. 
  • The involvement of energy in chemical reactions: Energy is either absorbed, emitted or alternated during chemical reactions, and can be either exothermic or endothermic. In Chemistry GCSE, you’ll learn to calculate how much energy is used or generated during chemical reactions.
  • The various rates and limits of chemical change: This will show you how different types of chemical reactions have specific limits or saturation points, depending on the respective proportions.
  • Organic chemistry, focusing on hydrocarbons and alkanes: Chemical naming, determining chemical structures, and synthesising other products are some of the concepts you will learn in this topic. 
  • Identifying sample substances using analytical chemistry: Analytical chemistry uses various techniques and laboratory equipment in determining the composition and properties of unknown samples. Chemistry GCSE will give you a taste of these techniques. 
  • Atmospheric chemistry with emphasis on sustainable development: You’ll also study the various gases in the atmosphere during GCSE Chemistry, particularly pollutants and how they react under certain conditions.
Teenage students caring out experiments in chemistry GCSE class
Chemistry GCSE will deepen your understanding of many key topics, from the different types of chemical reactions to various analytical techniques

Benefits Of Doing GCSE Chemistry As A Single Science

The biggest benefit of doing Chemistry GCSE as a single science is that it gives you the opportunity to really master the subject by providing a comprehensive understanding of chemistry and all its subtopics. If you decide to take Double Science at GCSE, you’ll learn about every science subject, including biology and physics, though in much less detail. 

Another benefit of taking GCSE chemistry as a single science is that it more adequately prepares you for a chemistry ‘A’ Level, university, and all possible career paths. This is because you’ll have a much stronger, more advanced understanding of key areas. 

Since most careers in chemistry involve elements of all three science disciplines, such as organic chemistry or chemical engineering, you’ll also need to study biology and physics in order to succeed in a science profession. However, these studies don’t need to be as in-depth as chemistry if that’s the area you’re specifically pursuing.

Is Chemistry GCSE Single Science Right For Me?

Whatever career path you want to follow, it’s important to sharpen your skills and abilities in the right areas as early as possible. If you know you want to specialise in chemistry, choosing the Chemistry GCSE Single Science is probably the right path for you because it will allow you to hone your skills and will introduce you to a range of complex topics.

If you’re unsure what you want to specialise in, that’s okay. If this is the case, then doing Double Science GCSE, or even just compulsory Science will give you the leniency to figure out which discipline you enjoy most. You can then choose to specialise in your favourite subject at ‘A’ Level – the choice entirely depends on you and your interests!

No matter what subject you take, you’ll be able to pursue a career in chemistry so long as you have good grades, a good attitude, and perhaps a bit of luck. What it all boils down to is which course will best suit your individual needs. Luckily, there are different GCSE options for you to choose from because, while GCSE Science is a compulsory subject, you can choose to study it in three ways:

  • The first option is core single science, a compulsory GCSE that covers physics, chemistry, and biology in a more generic, foundational way
  • The second option is Double Award or Dual Award Science, which is worth two GCSEs and covers all the core science subjects in more detail
  • The third option is Triple Science, or Single Science, which covers each discipline separately and thoroughly, gaining you one GCSE per subject (so three in total)
Sign post pointing in various directions of education
Taking Chemistry GCSE as a Single Science is beneficial if you want to specifically pursue chemistry in education and beyond

Choosing which GCSE option is the best for you largely depends on the course you want to study at university and/or the career you want to pursue. It also depends on the requirements of the university you want to apply to – so it’s recommended that you do some research before you decide. For instance, if you want to pursue medicine, then Double Science GCSE could be your best bet.

Chemistry GCSE single science, on the other hand, could be the right option for you if you want to pursue a career in industrial chemistry, biochemistry, forensic chemistry, chemical engineering, environmental science, cosmetic chemistry or – you get the idea! 

Find out more about chemistry education in our chemistry education resources hub.

For more help and support on revising for GCSE chemistry, read our revision series:


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