Your GCSE biology exam is looming and it’s time to start studying. But how exactly do you approach it? At Exam Papers Plus, we’ve put together this useful biology study tips guide to help get you started. Remember, the sooner you begin studying, the more time you’ll have to improve before the exam.
Here are our top GCSE biology study tips:
Revising two years-worth of coursework can seem daunting. However, with the right approach, you can ensure that you cover all the essential elements of the exam without feeling burned out. We recommend that the best approach to studying is little and often. Rather than tackling entire topics in one day, spread them out over the week and work through them for a few hours every day.
Working in this way can help you retain information better. Research suggests that adults have a typical attention span of around 14 minutes before they start to lose focus. Before you begin studying, try setting an alarm for 15 to 20-minutes to ensure you don’t continue studying when you’re feeling lethargic.
Studying in short bursts throughout the day ensures that you have time to recharge, so when you come back to your desk, you’ll feel just as motivated as before.
For more advice on how to approach studying at GCSE level, watch this video from student Lucrezia Chloe:
One of the most effective ways to study for GCSE biology is to incorporate practice tests early. We recommend that you use practice tests at the end of every topic revision session to put theory into practice. For example, if you’ve just finished revising bioenergetics, aim to answer questions on the topic from your practice tests. This way, the topic will be fresh in your mind and you’ll have an opportunity to see what types of bioenergetic questions you’re likely to be asked on the day.
Combining topic revision with practice tests provides a more holistic approach to studying than simply revising topics and then completing past papers a few weeks before the exam. It takes time to perfect your exam technique and the sooner you start, the better you’ll be at answering questions under pressure on the day of the tests.
Command words are typically placed at the beginning of a question. They provide an instruction to the student as to how the question should be approached. If you’re able to identify the command word in a question, you should have a good idea of how to form your answer. Some of the most common command words in GCSE biology include:
State – A question that asks you to ‘state’ usually requires you to write a short statement. ‘State’ questions are usually worth 1 or 2 marks and normally require a single word or short sentence answer. These question types usually require you to recall facts or to demonstrate your retained knowledge.
Explain – This command typically requires you to provide an insight into why or how something happens, e.g. a process. Explain questions usually have multiple steps so you should aim to present your answer clearly and logically.
Describe – This instruction requires you to provide an account of what’s happening. In most cases, you don’t need to explain ‘why’, only describe on a surface level. A ‘describe’ question could be in relation to a sequence of events or a process.
Compare and contrast – These command words require you to explore what’s similar and what’s different between two processes, ideas etc. These questions can be tricky and students often lose marks for failing to complete both parts.
Another useful tip for using command words to form your answer is to ask ‘what is the examiner looking for?’ Putting yourself in the examiner’s shoes can help you plan out your answer to ensure that you achieve maximum points.
One of the best resources for revising GCSE biology is practice tests. As well as helping you become familiar with the types of questions you could be asked on the day, they also help you get used to the layout of the test papers.
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 cover all eight topics in the GCSE biology syllabus and have been created by former GCSE biology examiners. 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.
When taken under exam conditions, our practice tests can help improve your time management skills. The more timed tests you do, the more you’ll get used to answering questions quickly and under pressure.
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.
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