Revising Biology (GCSE & ALEVEL)

This is the first post of a mini-series sort of thing where I am going to give my revision tips for the three subjects I take. If there is any subjects (e.g. Maths) which I took at GCSE that you’d like to see a post on then just let me know in the comments.
Biology is the subject I find the hardest at ALevel but I probably found it the easiest at GCSE (how times change) so this is the way which I revised for my GCSEs just with a few bits added in for ALevels. Personally for me this work but please remember that everyone have different learning styles so don’t worry if this doesn’t work for you.
Something that has really helped me in the last term is just after every lesson when I get home going over anything I was unsure about in the lesson. This can be anything that I found difficult, notes I didn’t quite finish or, we quite often do quizzes or past paper questions so if I struggled on them I go over the content. I usually just spend around fifteen to twenty minutes going over things and making notes or revision aids on them. For me this helps because I’m not leaving it to the test and just sorting out the things I am finding difficult straight away.
The rule of five is something which has definitely made Biology seem a lot more manageable for me. I put the sub topic (e.g. proteins) in the middle and then do five key facts coming off of it. If I can just remember the five facts about each subtopic then I (hopefully) will always have something to write about in the exam. I also find this useful if I just want to quickly recap on a topic.

Throughout my GCSE in Biology I went through so many and it really helps me. It makes you condense your notes down so you only have the important parts and they’re so easy to take around you to revise at school or on the bus. You can add colour to these, make them look attractive and just try to learn as much of the notes as possible.

For revision I really like to use the CGP books, for ALevel I’d say this doesn’t have quite enough detail but it gives the majority of what you need in really simple form which is so much easier to understand and write notes on. Also, the CGP guide is really visual so it doesn’t make it seem as boring.

Maths was never by strong point at GCSE so the Maths within Biology can sometimes prove quite difficult. There is a few equations and just basic Maths knowledge that you need. I decided to put all of the Maths that I need into one A5 notepad then I just add to it every time I learn something new. This really helps me as I can just read though it once a week and just before a test to make sure that I can get all of the marks on the Maths questions.

Past Papers is the best way to learn and practice the exam technique. It helps you understand what the examiner wants and the way in which the questions are worded in your actual exam. My school put them all into books for us to buy but you can just print them off from AQA (or whichever exam board you are doing) or just get them on the screen and write the answers on paper. The mark schemes are also available so you can check your progress.

Thank you for reading, the next two posts will be up as soon as I can. Please leave any subjects (that aren’t Psychology or English Literature) you would like to a post on in the comments.


Back to School Feelings 

On Monday (if you’re reading this before 05/09/16) I go back to school, something I’ve been dreading since I finished school. I left school on the 24th June and even before then I had stopped having proper lessons. I don’t think I’ve sat in a proper lesson since the beginning of May, that’s a long time.

I was so ready to leave school; I love learning but I find the whole school thing really hard. The routine, the competition that is imposed, the pressure and just everything I really struggled. So as I began to reach the end of year 11 (probably around Easter time) I just wanted to leave. I did my revision, did my exams and leaving secondary school was such a relief. As much as I want to study my ALevel options, the thought of being back in the school environment is a daunting one.

I am so invested into learning and growing as a person with new knowledge, I’m ambitious academically and set myself really high standards; my academic achievements are by no means bad but they’re not incredible – the high standards I hold very rarely get met. I just find school a bag of anxiety and stress that I really struggle to deal with. I feel like the teachers have such high expectations from me and adding that on top of my expectations of myself is hard.

I am looking forward to the new challenges this academic year will bring me; I’m taking three subjects that I think I will really enjoy and the enrichment programme looks like it will offer me some amazing opportunities. I also start my new string group and I’m really looking to do a violin exam this academic year. As much as all these things are great, they’re quite scary and uncertain. I live for certainty and knowing what is going on; by now I’d usually have a timetable but this year I don’t and by now I’d know my teachers but this year I don’t.

It’s all the little things like not actually knowing where I’m going on the first day back, yes I know the school but I still don’t know where I’m going. Things like I’m not quite sure if instrumental lessons and groups start on the first or second week. It’s all the little things that makes me worry the most. I’m in the same school but everything’s going to be so different; I’ve had the same teachers for two years and now I’m going to have completely new ones.

I want to enjoy these two years as much as possible, I want to engage in all of my subjects and I want to achieve highly both personally and academically. I’m hoping the feelings of uncertainty will subside after the first week once I have a timetable and a routine. I also really hope I’m cut out for ALevels and I can enjoy them as much as I’m hoping to.

If you’re going back to school soon I hope you have the most amazing year. Comment your favourite and least favourite subject below; it always intrigues me. (At GCSE my favourite was English Literature and my least favourite was ICT).