How to Pass A-Level Biology, 5 Sanity-Saving Tips
Tutor Post·4 mins·30/11/21

How to Pass A-Level Biology, 5 Sanity-Saving Tips

Whether it’s AQA A Level Biology, Edexcel or OCR, check out these 5 handy tips that will keep you sane and help you to fly through your Biology A Level snapping up those top marks.

So, passing A-Level Biology. The pressure is on. You’ve probably got a university place or job offer depending on it.

Firstly, I’d recommend checking out our overall ‘How to Pass A-Level Science’ blog post.

You've done very well to get this far but even still, the fear of failure doesn’t disappear overnight and a lot is riding on this.

The FOMO of not making it to university or the stress of having to resit exams is enough to make sure you give it your best attempt now. No regrets.

Luckily achieving top grades in A-Level biology is very simple, but it’s not easy.

Plus biology exams only really require 5 key things from students...

So what do examiners really want?

1. Organisation of knowledge

Admittedly, this is probably the dullest step in attaining that A*. Nonetheless, it must be done.

In practice, organising your knowledge means sifting through notes, delving into all possible relevant resources and reading widely around your subject. When it comes to learning how to pass A Level Biology, note that it’s essential to go above and beyond with your extra reading.

This Biological Sciences Review Magazine is a great place to start scooping up extra marks.

On a more granular level, planning your time is a massive part of getting organised. Nailing top grades can be done even if you work a part-time job or you’re squeezing in every possible extracurricular to boost your personal statement. You simply have to make time for your studies.

Now, you might have all your exams at once, this was definitely the case when I took my A-Levels and this means you need to schedule your time wisely.

Try to calculate when to start revising for your Biology A Level and how many hours you’ll need to work each day.

This will depend on the:

  1. Number of subjects you are studying
  2. How many days are left between now and the exam
  3. How much self-study you’ve completed so far

2. Committing that knowledge to memory

The ability to recall information that you’ve studied under examination conditions is not a skill learnt overnight, nor are all of us naturally gifted with photographic memories. This is where the scientifically proven ✨ scribble✨  technique for improving your memory’s capacity comes in.

Scientifically Backed: A Step by Step Scribble Method Guide

  1. Gather your notes or grab your textbook and actively read through the information on the first topic - don’t just scan the information, put effort into understanding.
  2. Next, explain the information back to yourself. If you can’t do this, go back and read the text again.
  3. Shut the book and scribble down everything you can remember (it might be handy to do this on a mini whiteboard if you have one). Focus on speed here and don’t worry about memorising the textbook exactly.
  4. If you meet a stumbling block and can’t remember some of the information, be patient with yourself. Allow some time to gather your thoughts so that the memories can be recalled and the information can pop back into your consciousness. Effective learning is about creating these ‘eureka’ moments when challenging yourself to remember facts.
  5. After you have run your memory bank dry, re-open the page again. Check what you forgot or got wrong and make a note of it.
  6. Close the book once more and scribble down what you missed the first time round, then move on to the next topic.

3. Shaping your knowledge in response to a specific question

Here we’re talking about knowing the specific exam board mark scheme and understanding what examiners need to see from you, then framing this in answer to the question.

When completing past papers, write down the correct wording of the mark scheme and learn it word for word.

In particular, be sure to focus on the first word of A-Level Biology questions. ‘Calculate’, ‘explain’ and ‘describe’ are all asking you to structure your answer in different ways so pay attention to this and notice how the mark scheme reflects the subtle differences.

What’s more, don’t forget to sprinkle in the topic's key terminology (that’s usually in bold in the textbooks.)

4. Know your graphs

We’re talking about being able to read and draw them. The best way to go about this is practising biology data analysis past paper questions, or exploring the end of topic question sections in your textbook.

If you get graphs down in biology and are studying other A Level Sciences, this skill will likely come in handy.

5. Memorise the key processes within A Level Biology

Ensure you know the following trickiest concepts inside and out.

  1. Practice drawing out the processes for respiration and photosynthesis with the relevant coenzymes. These can be easy to confuse.
  2. Know the difference between the uses and processes of DNA sequencing vs DNA profiling.
  3. Learn conversions and practice micrograms to cm. There’s typically a magnification calculation like this on every paper.
  4. Action potentials and excretion are notoriously tricky topics that are likely to appear on the paper. Learn these well.

Implementing these tips on how to pass A Level Biology will ensure you’re more than capable of passing your exams.

Who knows, if you start now you might even get full marks:)

Good luck and if you need any further help, you know where to look.

Next up:

How to Get an A in A Level Chemistry: The Do’s and Don’ts

How to pass A Level Physics

How to pass A Level Maths without burning out