GCSE Biology Help: Preparing for the Exam
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We all need a little help when it comes to preparing for GCSE biology. After working through the syllabus for two years, knowing where to start with your revision can be confusing. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE biology revision packs, so we know what effective exam preparation looks like.
Start Your Revision Early
The sooner you start preparing for your biology exam, the more time you’ll have to improve on any weak areas. We recommend that you create a study timetable, outlining what you’ll study and when. Allocate specific days to each of the eight topics in the exam and don’t forget to include practice papers in your schedule.
Practice test papers are a great way to provide you with an indication of your current attainment. As you continue to use them throughout your studying, they can also be a good way to chart your progress.
For example, you might find that you don’t perform well in questions relating to bioenergetics. As you allocate more time to studying the topic, practice tests can be used to monitor your improvements.
Be Clear on What Examiners Expect
In GCSE biology, there are four different types of questions that you may be asked: multiple choice, structured questions, closed short answer, and open response. Each question type requires a slightly different approach in order to satisfy examiners’ expectations.
Let’s look at each one in more detail:
Multiple choice – In GCSE biology, multiple choice questions are usually worth 1 mark. Some questions will test your retained knowledge, whereas others may require you to use an equation to find an answer. The key to answering multiple choice questions is to allocate enough time in the exam as they often take longer than you might expect.
Structured – These questions normally use command words like ‘explain’ ‘why’ and ‘demonstrate’ to guide you towards an answer. Structured questions can involve several steps, so pay attention to how you present your answer. If you can’t identify where you’ll be awarded marks, we may need to restructure your response.
Closed short answer – Usually, closed short answers require a single sentence response. They typically start with command words like ‘state’, or ‘write’. They’re usually lower-mark questions but can be tricky to answer as they assess your ability to remember facts. The key to approaching these questions is to write enough to answer the question in full but not too much that you end up wasting time in the exam.
Open response – These question types are usually awarded the highest marks in GCSE biology. They’re usually multi-step questions that require you to show your working and present your answer logically. The key to answering open response questions is to put yourself in the examiner’s shoes and ask where you’d award each point.
Revise in a Group
They say a problem shared is a problem halved. It can be tempting to hide away in the weeks leading up to your biology exam. However, revising in a group has a lot of benefits. Firstly, it can help you maintain your motivation. If you feel that your enthusiasm is dwindling (and it probably will at some point), studying with other students can help give you a boost of productivity.
Group revision can also provide you with support when you’re struggling to get your head around certain topics. If you start to feel stuck at any point, having other biology students on-hand can prove very useful and save you lots of time struggling on your own.
Revising in a group can also provide you with some human interaction, which is never a bad thing when you’re studying. Hearing about others’ revision can help put your mind at ease and encourage you to keep going.
The Night Before the GCSE Biology Exam
To put you in the right frame of mind before your exam, it helps to be organised the night before. Plan how you’re going to travel to your exam and make sure you’ll arrive in plenty of time. Take your revision notes with you and read them right up until you enter the exam hall. This way, anything you feel uneasy about will be fresh in your mind.
Pack your bag with everything you’ll need, including a calculator, pens, pencils, snacks, water, revision notes and practice tests. You should also try to get a good night’s sleep by going to bed early and waking up in plenty of time to get ready.
You may also want to plan an activity for when the exam is over, so you can properly relax and expend any of that nervous energy that may be left over. Doing physical exercise, meeting up with friends, or going to the cinema are all good ways to take your mind off the exam and help you recalibrate for your next exam.
GCSE Biology Practice Tests
Every biology student should incorporate biology practice tests into their study routine. Putting theory into practice is the only real way of improving your exam technique and applying what you know to a test situation.
Practice test papers help you become familiar with the types of questions you could be asked on the day, they can also help improve your time management skills when taken under exam conditions.
At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE biology revision packs that can help boost your confidence and enable you to perform at your best on exam day.
Our biology packs contain questions that cover all eight of the syllabus topics. As part of the process of creating our packs, we thoroughly analysed examiners’ reports from previous years to ensure we have every question type covered. To prepare you for every eventuality, we’ve even included some of the most difficult questions that you’re likely to come up against in the exam.
Our packs focus on the key skills that you need to do well in higher tier GCSE exams and include detailed mark schemes for every question. Each question is labelled to identify the relevant exam boards.
We’d highly recommend the following resources to help with your GCSE biology revision:
All of our GCSE packs are available immediately after download.