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FAQs for AS & A Level Biology (9700)


What is the difference between the two Advanced Practical Skills paper options?

These two Advanced Practical Skills papers are equivalent in every respect, except that they will contain different questions. Students should be prepared in exactly the same way whichever of these papers they are to be entered for.

The practical papers will be timetabled on different days. We anticipate that schools will decide which paper to enter their students for, based on the number of students and the laboratory resources available. They can either:

  • enter all of their students for the same practical paper (it does not matter which one, but the school will need to have sufficient laboratory space and resources to accommodate all of their students) or
  • enter half of their students for one paper and the other half for the other (which means that the laboratories only have to be able to accommodate half of the students on any one day, but which means that the laboratories will be in use for two days rather than one).

Where can our school order graticules?

If you cannot find a local supplier, we recommend that you order graticules from us, via our publications catalogue – you should order the Stage micrometer scale kit at £1.80 each on page 104. For this you will get high quality graticules supplied as part of the kit, which is good value.

To order Cambridge publications material, please refer to the publications catalogue and order form, found here on our public website. Please read the ordering instructions, which provides information on how to return the order form, payment methods and the Terms and Conditions. If you are from a Cambridge school there is no need to send payment with the order, as you will be invoiced on a monthly basis.

Alternatively, the supplier we recommend that will sell eyepiece graticules is Philip Harris (they will supply overseas customers):

Hazard codes on confidential instructions for science syllabuses

To align with changes to global chemical labelling regulations1, we are updating the hazard codes which appear in the confidential instructions of Cambridge science practical exams. These changes have been in effect since 2016.

These changes will not affect candidates as hazard codes do not appear on question papers, nor are candidates expected to recall such information in their answers.

Please remind candidates that all substances in science practical exams should be treated with caution. ‘Hazard Data Sheets’ for materials used in the exams should be available from your chemical supplier. You should carry out appropriate risk assessments to ensure that local regulations relating to safety, first-aid and disposal of chemicals are followed.

We will update science syllabuses with the new hazard codes as each syllabus undergoes its regular review process. We will use the new hazard codes where relevant and in accordance with information provided by CLEAPSS2

  • C = corrosive                          
  • MH = moderate hazard
  • HH = health hazard                    
  • T = acutely toxic
  • F = flammable                        
  • O = oxidising                      
  • N = hazardous to the aquatic environment

  1. United Nations Global Harmonised System (GHS) for hazard classification and compatible labelling
  2. An advisory service providing support in practical science and technology for schools and colleges (

For more information and materials on this syllabus, please visit our "FAQs for AS & A Level Science Practical Exams" and the School Support Hub here.

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