Most of you will only need an A in A-Level Biology to meet your Medicine offer. But for those of you who are striving to get the highest marks, here are my top A-Level Biology revision tips for getting that A*.
Having done my A-Levels last year, I can definitely say that I found them difficult, especially when trying to balance interview preparation and my social life at the same time. But I really wanted to get A*s ,which was my main motivation to work as hard as I could. My Biology and Chemistry teachers once said ‘wanting an A* is half the battle to getting one’. It requires dedication and a desire to do as well as you can. But this doesn’t mean you can’t procrastinate (which is the fun bit of revision!); it just means you need to use your time efficiently.
Past papers will give you an idea of what the real exam will be like, and once you have learnt the material, you can practice applying it and testing yourself under timed conditions.
Examiners tend to repeat questions so doing lots of past papers will help you understand what they’re looking for in your answers – as well as common topics or questions that often feature.
Some of your subject specifications might not have lots of past papers, so use questions from the textbook. Just to get an idea of what a Biology exam might be like, you could also use past papers from different boards and different specifications – just make sure you don’t get those mixed up with your own specification!
No one ever seems to look at these! They were really helpful for me to look at after I had completed a past paper because they showed me exactly what the examiners wanted and the common mistakes many students made. They were especially useful for A-Level Biology revision because they occasionally included ‘model answers’ for difficult explanation or application questions from students who sat the paper.
Biology is one of those subjects where examiners tend to ask you a lot of ‘explain’ questions or ask you to interpret data. ‘Explain’ questions are great to practice with friends because they can easily spot if you’ve made a mistake or missed out an important step in your explanation. It also makes A-Level Biology revision more fun! It might also be useful to answer data interpretation questions with a group of friends in a similar way.
A-Levels have a lot more content than GCSEs did, so it’s important to keep on top of your work and revise the information when you can. Don’t forget to revise your AS content as well – they can still ask it in the exam so make sure you know it; a lot of people leave this to the night before the exam! Again, past papers will help you to consolidate your knowledge. You might also find it useful to make flashcards which you can revise easily on the way to school or when you have a spare few minutes.
I know – it’s much easier said than done! But trust me, you will lose motivation really quickly if you don’t do something you enjoy alongside studying. Whether it’s re-watching your favourite TV shows, playing sport or going out for dessert with friends, make sure you take regular breaks from work to at least keep yourself sane, if nothing else.
Words: Maria Ahmad
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