It’s that time of year – exam season. And your GCSE biology exam is looming. Having spent the last two years working your way through the syllabus it can be confusing knowing where to start with your revision. What exactly should you be studying, and when? In this guide, we offer a suggested structure for studying for GCSE biology.
Revising for biology is so much easier when you’re organised from the outset. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE biology revision packs, so we know a thing or two about effective revision.
We recommend that you pull out all the essential information that you’ll need for the exam from your coursework folders. In GCSE biology, there are eight main topic areas: cell biology; organisation; infection and response; bioenergetics; homeostasis and response; inheritance, variation and evolution; ecology; key ideas.
Create a new folder and organise your notes into these topics. This way, you’ll have all the information you’ll need for the tests immediately available.
In the GCSE biology exam, there are four different question types: multiple choice, structured, close short answer and open response. We recommend that you practice all four question types so you get used to identifying each one. Once you know what type of question you’re being asked, you’ll have a good idea of how the answer should be structured.
Let’s look at each question type in more detail:
Multiple choice – In the biology tests, multiple choice questions are usually worth one mark. You’ll be presented with a question and a selection of possible answers. Some multiple choice questions require you to demonstrate your retained knowledge, i.e. facts. Whereas other questions will require you to work out the correct answer using an equation or formula. Typically, you don’t need to show your working with multiple choice questions, you only need to select the correct answer.
Structured – These question types usually ask you to answer in a specific way by providing command words like ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘find’. Pay close attention to the command word that’s being used as it can help guide your answer. For example, with a ‘why’ structured question, you’ll need to provide an explanation but not necessarily show your working.
Closed short answer – These questions require you to answer with a single word or short sentence. Closed short answers are typically worth 1-3 marks in the biology exam and assess your ability to remember facts. The key to answering these types of questions effectively is to get the right balance in terms of the length of your answer.
Open response – These questions usually have the highest number of marks. They’re normally multi-step questions that require you to show your working in a logical way. The key to answering these questions well is to put yourself in the examiners shoes and ask if you can clearly see where all your points will come from.
For some last-minute advice on studying for the GCSE biology exam, watch this video from Science with Hazel:
At some point in the exam, you’ll need to recall biology equations. The only way to apply equations to an answer is to learn them by heart. This might sound like a daunting prospect but it’s easier than you think if you break each one down.
One way of memorising your biology equations is to create an equation sheet, where you write down all the formulas you’ll need to know and refer to them when using practice papers. A really useful tip is to write all your equations out from memory on a separate sheet of paper at the start of your exam. This way, you’ll have them all to hand and can relax knowing that you have them covered.
Some of the most common equations you’ll need to know for the GCSE biology exam are:
When it comes to studying for the GCSE biology tests, there’s no substitute for putting theory into practice. Introducing practice tests into your revision early can help you chart your progress in the lead up to the exam.
At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE biology revision packs that cover all eight topics in the syllabus. As part of the process of creating our packs, we thoroughly analysed examiners’ reports from previous years to ensure that our questions cover all possible topics.
We’ve identified questions that students usually struggle with and we’ve included similar questions in our pack, so you’ll be prepared for every eventuality.
Our packs can help boost your confidence in the lead up to exam day. Knowing that we’ve covered every question type will give you peace of mind that you’re fully prepared.
All of our GCSE packs are written and developed by former GCSE physics examiners and markers. They focus on the key skills that you’ll need to do well in higher tier GCSE exams.
We’d highly recommend the following resources to help with your GCSE biology revision:
All of our packs are available immediately after download.
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