How to Pass GCSE Biology
Table of Contents
When it comes to passing GCSE biology, there’s no substitute for hard work. However, there are things you can do to help increase your chances of performing well on the day.
At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE biology revision packs, so we know a thing or two about making the most of your study time. Here are our top tips on how to pass GCSE biology:
Get to Grips with GCSE Biology Command Words
Command words typically appear at the beginning of GCSE biology questions. They’re specific instructions that provide an indication of how your answer should be structured. If you’re able to identify the command word in each question, you’ll have a head start in finding the correct answer. Here are some of the most common command words in GCSE biology:
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.
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.
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.
For more advice on identifying command words, watch this video from Craig n’ Dave:
Write Out All the Equations You Need to Know
Parts of the GCSE biology exam require you to recall equations and apply them to questions. One of the best ways to learn equations is to associate them with specific topics. At Exam Paper Plus, we find that creating a mind map of all the equations you’ll need can really help enhance your memory, particularly if you’re a visual learner.
Create space for all eight GCSE biology topics and under each one, write out all their associated equations. To begin with, try to recall each equation from memory and complete as many as you can. You can then refer to your revision notes to complete your mind map with any ones that you missed.
Having a visual representation of all your equations can be a useful revision tool and make it easier to recall specific formulas during the exam. If there are certain equations that you struggle to remember, you may want to write these down as soon as the exam starts, so you can relax knowing that you have them covered.
Tips for the Exam
Although the key to passing GCSE biology is preparation, the way you approach each test in the exam can have an impact on your performance too. Here are our top exam tips for passing GCSE biology:
- Arrive early and read through your revision notes right up to the last minute before you enter the exam hall. If there are any topics that you’re less confident in, focus on these so that they’re fresh in your mind before the exam starts.
- Read each question carefully and put yourself in the examiner’s shoes. Pay attention to the command word and consider how you’ll structure the question before you start to answer.
- Pay attention to the number of marks available. If a question is worth 4 marks or more, it’s likely to be a multi-step question, so make sure you have enough steps to gain maximum points.
- Bring water into the exam with you. Staying hydrated throughout can help you keep a clear head and make you more alert.
- Try to finish each test paper with 10 minutes to spare at the end. Use this time to review your answers and complete any questions that you skipped.
- Don’t be discouraged by other students leaving the exam early. Always make full use of the time that you’ve been allocated. You should always assume that you’ve made a mistake somewhere and try to find it.
Our GCSE Biology Practice Tests
The most effective resource you can invest in for passing GCSE biology is practice test papers. Not only do practice tests 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.
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.
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.