How Many Of These High School Exam Questions Can You Get Right?


Every year, tens of thousands of teenagers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland take their GCSEs, a national exam qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds. This year was no exception. 

How do you think you would do if you were to take the exams now?


Have a go at some GCSE questions below to find out. You can find the answers on the next page.


(These questions are from the foundation paper.)

  1. 1. Write the words below in the correct size order, starting with the smallest structure. 

  2.     cell; chromosome; gene; nucleus

2. The shoots of plants grow upwards. Give two reasons why shoots grow upwards from the below.


    Shoots grow towards moisture.

    Shoots grow towards light.

    Shoots grow in the direction of the force of gravity.

    Shoots grow against the force of gravity.


    Shoots grow away from light.

(These questions are from the higher paper.)

3. When bean plants grow they gain biomass. Complete the sentences.

    a) The bean plants gain biomass by the process of ____________________________________ .


    b) In this process, the bean plants make a carbohydrate called _________________________ . 

4. For every 10 grams of biomass eaten by hawks, more than 8 grams of biomass are lost. Give one way in which the biomass eaten by hawks is lost from the food chain.

   Hawks reproduce

   Hawks produce feces


   Hawks grow

   Hawks feed on other birds 


(These questions are from the foundation paper.)

  1. 1. Plants and algae used carbon dioxide and water vapor in the early Earth’s atmosphere to produce oxygen. 

  2.     Give the name of this process.

2. What are the two reasons why lithium, sodium, and potassium are in the same group of the periodic table?

    Low melting points 

    Same number of electrons in the outer shell 

    Similar atomic (proton) numbers 


    Similar chemical reactions 

    Two electrons in the innermost shell 

(These questions are from the higher paper.)

3. When elements react, their atoms join with other atoms to form compounds. Sulfuric acid, H2SO4, is a compound.


    How many elements and how many atoms are in the formula H2SO4?

4. Crude oil is a mixture of compounds. These compounds are mainly hydrocarbons.

    What does the term hydrocarbon mean?



(These questions are from the foundation no calculator paper.)

1. Work out: 3/8 × 11

    Give your answer as a mixed number.

2. In a school show, 


    girls : boys = 1 : 1

    girls who sing : girls who do not sing = 1 : 2

    8 girls sing in the show.

    How many students are in the show altogether?


3. Circle the expression which does not simplify to y

     y × y × y

     y⁴ ÷ y

     y² × y


     y⁶ ÷ y²

4. Solve the simultaneous equations.

    2x + y = 18

      x – y = 6



(These questions are from the foundation paper.)

1. Coal is a non-renewable energy resource. Name two other non-renewable energy resources. 

2. Alpha, beta, and gamma are types of nuclear radiation. Link each type of radiation to what that radiation consists of (listed below).


   Electron from the nucleus

   Two protons and two neutrons

   Electromagnetic radiation

   Neutron from the nucleus 


(These questions are from the higher paper.)

3. A laser emits light waves in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

   What type of wave are all electromagnetic waves?

4. A student investigated how the output voltage of a model wind turbine was affected by the number of turbine blades.


    Suggest two factors, other than the number of turbine blades, that will affect the output voltage of the model wind turbine.

The answers:


1. Gene, chromosome, nucleus, cell


2. Shoots grow towards light + shoots grow against the force of gravity

3. a) photosynthesis b) sugar/glucose

4. Hawks produce feces.

For the full mark break down, click here and here.



1. Photosynthesis

2. Same number of electrons in the outer shell + similar chemical reactions

3. Element: 3 + atoms: 7


4. A hydrocarbon is made up of hydrogen and carbon (atoms) only

For the full mark break down, click here and here.


  1. 1. To make things simpler, turn 11 into a fraction so that it becomes 11/1. The answer is 3 × 11 over 8 × 1, or: 3/8 × 11/1 = 33/8 = 4 1/8

  2. 2. To work out how many students are in the show for every one girl who sings, first work out how many girls there are (1 + 2 = 3) and then work out how many students there are (3 + 3 = 6). If there are 8 girls who sing in the play, there will be 8 × 6 students in the play. That makes 48.

  3. 3. When dealing with root numbers ÷ become - and × becomes +. So:  y × y × y = yᶟ,  y⁴ ÷ y = yand y² × y = yᶟ. That leaves:  y⁶ ÷ y², which is actually y⁴.

  4. 4. There are various methods you can use to get the correct answer. Here's an example: Swap out y so you end up with x – 6 = 18 - 2x. Reshuffle the digits so that all the are on one side and the numbers are on the other. You should get 3x = 18 + 6 = 24 so x = 24 ÷ 3 = 8. Swap x for 8 in one of the original questions to find (8 – y = 6 so = 8 - 6 = 2, or: 2[8] + y = 18 so = 18 - 2[8] = 18 - 16 = 2). That means = 8 and y = 2

    For the full mark break down, click here.

  5. Physics

    1. Any two of the following: oil, gas, nuclear

    2. Alpha – two protons and two neutrons, Beta – electron from the nucleus, Gamma – electromagnetic radiation 

    3. Transverse

    4. Any two of the following: length/area/size/shape of the turbine blades (but ignore mass/weight/number of turbine blades/material of turbine blandes), wind speed, angle of blades.

  6. For the full mark break down, click here and here.


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