So, you have decided to continue with Biology at A Level. Perhaps you enjoyed the subject so much at GCSE that you couldn’t wait to learn more, or you might have realised that you need the qualification in order to reach your next academic goal, like a scientific degree course.
On the other hand, you may quite simply have chosen Biology as just ‘something to study’. If this is the case, be warned that Biology is not an easy subject, yet the variety of fascinating themes does indeed make it seem far easier.
It is always nicer to learn about things that interest you, and more often than not your curiosity translates into great marks!
Even if you are taking Biology with no clear direction of where you want to go after that, you should nevertheless embrace the subject and take as much knowledge away as you can because Biology is essentially a subject that teaches you about life.
These essential aspects of biological life should, in an ideal world, be learned by everyone if we truly want our population to have a good awareness of the planet we live on and to help us to appreciate the power and complexity of the Sciences.
So, with this in mind, you choosing to be a Biology student for the second times means that you are taking notice and are, in a roundabout way, giving back to the environment and community.
Who knows, certain aspects of this more advanced level course might make you stop and want to change the way the world works by becoming an environmentalist. And, with all of this groundbreaking knowledge having been absorbed, you could be just the person to drive this forward.
By studying the Science of Life, you will begin to better understand our environment. Photo by Kevin Krejci on Visualhunt
Having an awareness of the Sciences, and particularly the ‘Science of Life’ (as Biology is known), is an exceptional thing. As a Biology student, longer will you take for granted the true wonders of life and the natural world, as you will be able to understand the fascinating medical and scientific processes behind them.
Furthermore, if there is and has only been just one direction for you – a career in the broad field of science – then you will be only too aware that this subject plays a big role in how you move forward to the next stage of your education and career.
Your grade in Biology might determine if you can go on to study the subject or related specifications at university, which establishment you get into, and the influence of your CV when applying for professional roles.
Now you see why these school exams are so important and can help to shape your life and opportunities in the future!
For those who are keen to pursue Science (particularly Biology) through to university level, an A Level in the Sciences could set the foundations for a strong scientific education and could even lead you into a profession within the Live Sciences sector.
Naturally, Biology leads the way to a career in Medicine (along with other Science-based subjects) as well as a job as a scientist. However, there are various branches of Biology which can open up many alternative professional doors, including Ecology, Marine Biology, Zoology and many more.
A Biology qualification can lead you to an exciting career caring for some of the world’s most fascinating animal species. Photo on Visualhunt
Biology at A Level is offered by AQA, WJEC, Eduqas and OCR, among others. Below are two of the most popular exam boards for Biology A Level and their grading systems.
At a glance, this linear specification offered by AQA covers a range of core topics such as Biological Molecules, Cells, Genetic Information, Energy Transfers and Gene Expression, the last two being taught at A Level only.
The AS Level course is split into two exams, each worth 50% of the final grade and lasting 1 hour 30 minutes. The second year, however, is assessed over three written exams, each taking 2 hours to complete and making up 35%, 35% and 30% of the final mark respectively.
This specification leans on the practicality of Biology for students and integrates problem-solving to help pupils understand biological concepts and scientific methods. Like the above, the course is split between the two years of study.
The course is said to refresh the popular themes from GCSE Level specifications and embeds new teaching modules centred around answering the all important question: How does Science work?
School isn’t easy for anybody, no matter what it might like seem on the outside. Some students may struggle academically whilst others might have emotional difficulties to keep on top of… but the main things to remember are to use all of the channels available to you to prepare for your final exams and not to suffer in silence!
So many students feel that, because they chose to study a given subject as one of their three or four A Levels, they should be reasonably good at them. This, of course, is not always the case.
Moreover, struggling with parts of the curriculum doesn’t mean that you are bad at the subject; some pupils simply excel in certain areas of a subject field whilst others are good all-rounders.
There are many ways that you can make life easier for yourself when studying towards your A Levels, and the great thing is that many of them are free. The key to learning success is to plan, so get organised now and take inspiration from our tips below to help you with your Biology studies.
While this first option may not be free, it may be incredible value for money and worth the cost in the long run.
You might find it useful to hire a tutor to help you to improve your level of understanding of the topics in Biology, rather than getting close to the exam and realising that there are large gaps in your learning.
Tutors are particularly useful if you are falling behind for any reason, if you want to ensure a better grade or if you have specific requirements to meet in order to study Biology at the next level.
It is never too early to start thinking about your exams, even if they are over a year away. We bet you are more than happy to think about the summer holiday that you have been promised after the exams over!
You can use many online tools to help you build a planner, one of which can be found via The Student Room, but it is just as easy to create a hand-written diary or countdown calendar if you prefer.
If you opt for the paper version, you’ll need to go out and buy yourself a calendar, diary or planner, but bear in mind that this should ideally be an academic one which runs from September to September.
A planner can help you to approach the exam period with a level of preparedness and confidence. Photo by Irene Bonacchi on Visual hunt
In this planner, be sure to write down all of your key dates, like the dates of the exams if you know them already, to give you clearly defined goals. Focus on the mock exams or deadlines for key pieces of homework if that seems less daunting than counting down to the actual exam itself.
Don’t forget to keep the journal up to date by putting in any class-related deadlines, listing revision sessions, ticking off the past papers you have completed and adding useful reminders. If you work well with visuals, then why not buy some extra special coloured pens, highlighters or stickers to make your planner more exciting!
If you find it easier to create your study planner digitally though, you can benefit from linking it to your mobile phone calendar and then receiving alerts without having to remember to carry around or consult your diary. You also have the chance to personalise a digital countdown if you so wish.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in and out of the classroom, and don’t leave it until it is too late! Your teacher will be more than happy to help you when you have questions about the course or the exam, by either offering you advice or by pointing you in the direction of resources to look at.
However, don’t forget that there are many others ways to get answers nowadays. For instance, the Internet is a huge network that connects us with resources but also with people who have similar interests and who can offer helpful discussions.
Forums like the one found on The Student Room are specifically designed for students to interact with eachother, share their concerns, offer advice or simply to vent frustration about their education.