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Biology HL exams May 2011!!!

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    Hey guys, I've got biology exams on the 18th and 19th, and im an HL student. I'm pretty weak though. This is however, the last week to prepare. So, I was hoping I could get some advice on how best to prepare? If you've got any tips, please add a comment. I'd really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance =)
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    do you have the course outline? it's like the syllabus broken down into objectives listed for each topic...
    if you go through that, it can sort of be like a checklist and you can use it to make sure you're going through exactly what you'll need to know on the exam.
    a lot of mcq's and long answer questions are almost identical to some of those objectives, so i think it helps. it's definitely been helpful for me...
    good luck!! i'm nervous about this exam too :/
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    Yeah I've been keeping the syllabus details in the guide open as I've been revising. Im planning to go thru 2008 and 2009 past papers b4 the exams tho, cuz my chem papers were mostly based on 2009 and partly 2008 questions, at least for papers 2 and 3. So I'm expecting the same pattern for bio. My teacher hardly taught us with the use of past papers, so I need to go thru those so I can get a better idea of what its gona be like and wat different types of questions are really asking for.

    And thanks for the advice =)
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    Basically spend around 8 hours, EVERYDAY up until the exam revising, and you will fly!

    Biology is largely about memorising key details and the application is limited to a few areas (e.g. calculating a percentage error or magnification or something)

    I plan to revise for Biology like I have never revised before.
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    Revise major topics first, biochem (chapters : chemistry of life, nucleic acids and proteins and cell respiration and photosynthesis) - is a major part of a course, plus you are doing higher so you need to remember many names of proteins and enzymes , also Calvin cycle and Kreb's cycle tend to confusle many people. Then revise human physiology - it tends to be very popular in part B. Genetics is very important chapter, because it contains a massive percentage of definitions you must know, and genetics questions tend to come up year after year. Do not worry about plants or evolution, because they are quite rare and they are very dull and boring - at least to me. And most important learn to draw things you need to know. Good luck.
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    OMG i so agreee plants and evolution are so dull. I'm leaving them off for last. So that I can get the big stuff out of the way.

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    i haven't revised for bio yet.

    but the next 4 days with 6-8hours a day should be more than enough.. seeing as the most i've ever done before is the night before

    of course, that was without the options. options fml. although this is bio not chem so it can only go better!
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    Umm I nvr rly understood what the different objective numbers represent...?
    and ya I also want to spend time on the options, i mean thats 20% right there.

    And yes, bio is definitely easier than chem
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    There a 3 levels of objectives - objective 1,2 and 3. Objective 1 requires you to know simple facts, drawings and definitions, thus exam questions from objective 1 are worth 1 probably 2 marks. Objective 2 - annotate, describe , distinguish and etc. They tend to be 2-6 mark questions. And finally glorious objective 3; explain, evaluate compare and contrast- 6-9 mark questions, these are only in paper 2, part B and option papers. They are most complicated, because they require you to know mechanisms, and the syntax they use in exam questions tend to confuse me like hell. Remember papers 2 is worth 36%, and if you know core material you will be able to solve paper 1 . And finally do not revise 8 hours a day, you will not remember most of the info, best is to do like 25 mins of studying and 10 mins of break, also use spaced repetition method to make that useless information to stick into long term memory.
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    wait wat is the spaced repitition method?

    and yes i find the syntax confusing too. That's why I wana be familiar with 2008 and 2009 past papers, so I have an idea of the kind of language they're going to use, and the kind of response they want.

    and thanks for explaining the objectives, now i no how much to focus on what.
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    Spaced repetition method is an interval learning technique which requires you to revise material in spaced interval. For example you have just learnt about glycolysis, after an hour you will revise it , then after a day, a week and a month . But we only have 5 days, so I suggest to shorten the time intervals

    I wouldn't count on 2008 and 2009 papers, because syllabus has changed in 2009. If you've done chemistry papers you might have noticed that exam paper, especially paper 2, was very narrative and had many historical details, which suggest that they want us to apply our knowledge to wider use. Also chemistry papers 2 was very similar to 2009 specification paper, even question 1 had the same graph which made me laugh in an exam. Also use the newest march schemes, because if you look at 2003 question about respiration and 2008 the mark schemes are very distinct.
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    What do u mean by that paper was very narrative and historical...? I mean ya I noticed those similarities too, the same chapters applied more than others and similar questions, especially in paper 3.
    And aren't the older markschemes more strict and demanding? I mean the syllabus has been reduced in places since then.
    And what do u mean by wider application? How'd u reach that conclusion?

    I'm sorry all my questioning must seem so annoying and childish. Our teacher didnt help us this much.

    And thanks so much for the spaced repetition information, it was really interesting, and made a lot of sense. =)
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    Well, if you've done chem paper you could have notice that questions were not leading questions. For example a leading question would be "Calculate molecular mass of..........if by mass it contains 70% of oxygen and 30% hydrogen", but in chem paper 2 there were questions that had many useless details, e.g history of Egyptian metal - Sb2S3. Also question 1 was narrative, meaning that they included many details that were not needed to solve questions, thus some people found very difficult to extract important info, plus the graph made question 1 a hateful, hateful, hateful way to begin and exam.

    This is where the funny stuff comes in. Even though the syllabus was reduced in some parts, they expanded it in others, especially genetics parts. As an example 2002 question :
    "Describe the consequence of a base substitution mutation with regards to sickle cell anaemia"
    2002 mark scheme
    mutation is a change in DNA sequence;
    changes the mRNA during transcription;
    changes the amino acid sequence;
    substitution mutation / changes to one codon;
    glutamic acid is changed to valine / GAG to GTG;
    changes the shape of hemoglobin /
    hemoglobin becomes less soluble and crystallizes out;
    cannot carry oxygen as well;
    red blood cells sickle / impairs blood flow;
    causes other health problems / anemia / tiredness;
    sickle cell anemia caused by two mutated recessive alleles

    2009 specification question

    "Explain the consequences of a base substitution mutation in relation to the processes of transcription and translation."

    2009 mark scheme

    mutation is a change in the genetic make-up;
    base substitution mutation occurs when one (nitrogenous) base in DNA chain is
    replaced by another;
    this is a gene mutation / change in the base sequence of a gene;
    effect of mutation ranges from no effect / no change in amino acid sequence to
    drastic changes;
    sickle-cell anaemia involves change in gene for one of polypeptides in
    hemoglobin / Hb / HBA;
    GAG has mutated to GTG (on DNA);
    adenine replaced by thymine in DNA;
    transcription of DNA produces the triplet GUG instead of GAG on mRNA;
    one codon is different in mRNA;
    new codon is for valine rather than glutamic acid;
    tRNA brings amino acid to ribosome during translation;
    different amino acid placed in polypeptide chain being formed by translation;
    the two amino acids differ in solubility / have different properties / valine causes
    HBS to be less soluble;
    causes red blood cells to become sickle shaped / carry oxygen less efficiently;
    HBS allele causes sickle-cell anaemia but gives resistance to malaria

    So yeah, they expect more details from us now, then they used to.
    Wider application, meaning that exam questions will either will combine two or more subjects into one question or they will create a question that contains information that you know, but will not have a strong link to the syllabus, but do not worry these questions tend to be on paper 1.
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    ok wow. I didn't realize that. But alright, i have to remain calm. So, I'm gona stick with the 2008 and 2009 mark schemes. I will look at the 2010 ones if i can, but im sure the same stuff isnt rly gona be asked. I mean like ya there are chapters that must be questioned but I'm sure our paper is still gona be very different, and there are higher chances of similarity with 2008 and 2009. The point is to get used to the language and mark scheme. So I guess its all good.

    Oh and btw do we have to know the calvin cycle down to exactly how many moles of each compound are used when? Because in the guides and revision sites they give the names of the substances, but not the exact number of moles, like they don't say that 12 glycerate 3 phosphate moles are broken down to 12 triose phosphate molecules by the oxidation of 12 NADPH and 12 ATP. They just mention that glycerate-3-phosphate is broken down into triose phosphate, by the oxidation of NADPH and ATP. Do we have to know the specifics like that? I'm sorry I'm like freaking out trying to memorize all that.
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    It is IB ,so the chance that we get similar paper to 2010 is equal to getting similar paper to 2002. It is IB it's all random. Do not freak out, take few deep breaths.... OK then, remember to revise major topics because they will definitely be on the paper. Do not worry about plants, cells, evolution and statistics; you either know them or you don't. Also if you have a good coursework, it is 24% of your mark, plus paper 3 that is 44%. Sadly my teacher hinted that your coursework grade depends on your exam results. If you do badly in exam your coursework will go down. Apparently, IB has this philosophy: if you are not smart to do well in exam, you are not smart to write a good coursework.

    When I write about Calvin cycle I do not mention moles, because it seems such a useless things, plus I get lost in numbers. I've never seen a mark scheme that requires you to know mole ratio.
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    OMG that is such a relief. I've been like staring at the descriptive diagram wondering how they want us to no that. I get lost in numbers too. K im keeping it simple, like the krebs cycle. That feels so much better.

    and im assuming by coursework you mean IAs? Ya, mine didnt go too well. So idk, with me its that if i make the most of these last few days, My exams shud go better and than my IAs. dunno if its gona work out, but im trying and hoping, cuz i screwed chem. And bio, chem, and psycho being my hls, im hoping bio and psycho will make up for my losses in chem.
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    Psychology paper 1 was not a bad paper, it could have been batter, but substantially it could have been much worse, so I was happy with the questions. Yes by coursework I meant IA, and technically you do not know how well or how badly you've done until you'll get your results so you know keep a good spirit about the exams, personally I believe that if I will fail IB, I will apply to McDonald's at least I'll get free burgers, which is ,to be honest, a much better change to 18 months of torture.
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    Psychology wasn't bad. It's just that my class didnt have much experience with past papers, or command terms much, and so even if we rmred studies correctly, our structure could have been off, and we might have misinterpretted the command term and well its always that a thousand things can go wrong right? But I'm hoping on above 4 there.

    hahaha i hate mcdonald's, my tok presentation was on the healthy diet versus the unrestricted diet, and my key issue was the campaign that wants to get ronald mcdonald fired =P

    But ya, I know I'm gona live it up in june, I mean ignorance is bliss, right? If i dont no i did bad, then I may as well enjoy until I do know, and then plan ahead from there =)
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    I think you should start with those topics you understand the least and use the syllabus outline to revise them, then work your way like that. You can find past exam papers online, and sometimes specific exam questions (eg. questions just on plant science).

    Good luck. :borat:
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    Yeah ignorance is a bliss, you are either smart and sad, or stupid and happy, such a moral dilemma...well at least you are approaching your results with a right mind set. Instead of having high expectations and being disappointed on a result day, you keep it realistic and when you will score a high mark you will be momentarily happy until you think about a university degree, then about PhD then about job market, and somehow IB biology doesn't look so bad


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Updated: May 23, 2011
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