forest3261
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Hi
I received my as level grades today, including biology. My target grade is an A- I got a C. Basically I dont know where I went wrong- I memorised the nelson thornes aqa textbook for both unit 1 and 2. And then after I memorised all the notes, I then reviewed everything I memorised to make sure I remebered EVERYTHING :P
Following that I then did about 3-4 past papers per unit, and I got an A grade or a mid to high B grade on all. The only thing I can think that may have caused me to get a C is that I got the application questions wrong (I really find those questions hard because they sometimes require you to think outside the box, so I could be losing a lot of marks) I understand the language of biology papers can be a bit specific so that could be a factor. Do you think I could have done any better?
Thanks. I hope I dont sound snobbish by posting this
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Chrisofsmeg
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I know what you mean, I was expecting to get an A, and I wound up with a B, although only a couple of marks off an A. I would've been fine but in moderation they must have downgraded our IMPA results because I had a B when it was initially marked and now I have a C. Either that or they diddled with the grade boundaries.

It's irritating, and I want to study medicine so I may have a problem now. It's not the end of the world, but like I said, still irritating. I guess only you know if you could've done better though, really - what do you think?
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tomkeys
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You don't sound snobbish at all and its a very relevant question. In a word, AQA Biology is unpredictable.

I got 100% in Unit 1 and 2, and 80% in the ISA and I can say that I was not at all confident about the Unit results before actually receiving my marks. The nature of their exam means you're always going to be fraught with uncertainty (and I had three other exams on the same day as Unit 2, the Biology exam finishing just before 5pm) You obviously prepared well in terms of knowledge and understanding of the content, but factual recall doesn't seem to be the focus of AQA's Biology course, the application and "How Science Works" questions acting as the real hurdle one has to clear when trying to achieve the higher grades. I haven't spoken to enough students at my own school about Unit 2, but the amount of people disappointed with their Unit 1 mark in March was staggering. You're definitely not going to be alone in being so surprised.

To answer them, understanding the nuances of the language used is key so you know exactly what the examiner is asking. I can't stress that enough. Enough practice and acquainting yourself with the mark schemes helps greatly in developing the mindset you need to do this. Remember, if you've revised as comprehensively as you yourself have, the answer to the question lies within the bounds of your knowledge. The skill lies in drawing together relevant information from this base of facts. If someone has access to a copy of the May 2011 Unit 2 paper I'd be happy to flag up a few examples of what I recall as particularly awkward questions.

Personally, I feel that AQA must be the hardest exam board for Biology. So don't beat yourself up. I study OCR Chemistry and the exams in general are far more focused on factual recall and direct application of knowledge to familiar-ish questions. I won't knock AQA for its Biology course however, because I think its great preparation for the BMAT in terms of the thinking skills needed.

Sorry for this essay, but I just wanted to air my views on what I feel is not the most straight-forward exam board for Biology!
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godfather123
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http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/atta...0&d=1301746361

this is the link for unit 2 2011 jan. sorry couldnt find the may one. i really need help. i had an A at AS and now at A2 i dont know how i got a D overall. i revise and revise. please could you explain what is the best way to approch these questions as i am retaking A2. i just dont get aqa biology. i revised so much for A2 and still failed. dont see what aqa want. please could you help me.
thanks
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IamBeowulf
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im 2 ums off n a - i might get unit 2 remarked
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tomkeys
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(Original post by godfather123)
http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/atta...0&d=1301746361

this is the link for unit 2 2011 jan. sorry couldnt find the may one. i really need help. i had an A at AS and now at A2 i dont know how i got a D overall. i revise and revise. please could you explain what is the best way to approch these questions as i am retaking A2. i just dont get aqa biology. i revised so much for A2 and still failed. dont see what aqa want. please could you help me.
thanks
I can only speak for AS, not A2, but it might be best if I were to run through a general question technique.

So, I read the question and thereafter, I would have a glance immediately at the number of marks available. E.g three marks? Three points or "ideas" are what should be related in the answer then. This seems obvious but with this in mind you know how the answer should be structured almost immediately and can cut down on waffle and save time as a result. However, determining exactly which ideas should be related is the difficulty of course.

There are two potential pitfalls here, at least to my mind (hopefully there are no more!). Firstly, you misunderstand what the question is asking and answer it incorrectly, meaning the "ideas" you choose to relate are irrelevant (at least to the mind of the examiner, who's view is what counts here). Either that or no answer at all occurs to you. Secondly, your "ideas" are related in a fashion which won't gain marks; the fashion which will gain marks is difficult to pin down exactly, but past mark schemes should give you a strong indication of it. Using exactly the language specified therein should be safe and as AQA repeats certain questions year in year out (e.g "Explain how this length of DNA consisting of four triplets may code for fewer than four amino acids"), you're almost guaranteed marks if you do this. Whilst its difficult to describe, you also develop a general style of writing through familiarity with the mark schemes that gets you marks. Namely, one that is almost bullet point-like, which consists of "ideas" which logically follow from one another, with no gaps in the steps. This is critical in the "Explain how..." questions!

For example, "Explain why no symptoms may be experienced when a pathogen infects a human for the second time". So we identify our "ideas", in this case:

-Development of memory cells (T and B) as part of primary immune response specific to pathogen's antigens, allows secondary immune response
-Allows quicker identification of pathogen by T helper cells developed from memory cells, stimulation of phagocytosis by other T cells, etc.
-Memory cells also develop into plasma cells, producing antibodies which do... things (Unit 1 was a while ago for me)
-Pathogens destroyed more quickly before sufficient cell damage and toxins produced to cause symptoms

I may have gone into a little too much detail and I admit that waffle is not the best thing to do if you write more slowly, but personally I try to cram as much as I can into every answer like that!

As for the How Science Works questions, they sometimes relate very distantly to the specification, such as some of the shrimp questions on the January 2011 Unit 2 paper. AQA seemed to be tagging this mini ISA-style scenario on to the end of every Unit 2 exam paper, up until this summer where the HSW questions were scattered a little more diffusely (with the athlete blood-doping and bacteria questions featuring many if I recall correctly) throughout the paper. This may be the first time this has been done, so they went a little overboard with the HSW on the May 2011 Unit 2 paper (at least in my humble opinion. Honestly, I think past ISAs are the best preparation for HSW. The mark schemes are usually not so comprehensive so you may write valid answers not credited, but the flexibility of the examiners in the real Unit 1 and 2 exams is good, in my experience anyway. That said, beyond practice and familiarity with experiments encountered in A Level Biology and the kind of problems that might arise therewith (reliability, accuracy, precision - know these terms), it seems to depend a lot on how you as an individual think and so there's not a lot I can suggest to develop that, beyond practice. The answer sometimes just doesn't occur to you and other times it does. Certainly, thinking laterally and broadly helps, as it does when solving any problem like this.

I hope that helps a little and if anyone can flag up a question in particular, I'd be happy to discuss it!
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(Online)
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There's a lot more to biology than just memorising I'm afraid. This becomes very apparent when you get to A2 - it becomes much more about application (and I think this is where people struggle).

The only thing I suggest is that you really knuckle down, maybe do a few tactical resits here and there. But don't go overboard, you really don't want to be doing any resits when it comes to doing Unit 5, because that will sap all of your time!

Feel free to PM me with any questions etc, the information is still fairly fresh in my mind so I'll try to help as best as I can
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supernova92
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Not really helpful.. but i hate AQA biology, wish i had never taken it..
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alexmagpie
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(Original post by (Online))
There's a lot more to biology than just memorising I'm afraid. This becomes very apparent when you get to A2 - it becomes much more about application (and I think this is where people struggle).

The only thing I suggest is that you really knuckle down, maybe do a few tactical resits here and there. But don't go overboard, you really don't want to be doing any resits when it comes to doing Unit 5, because that will sap all of your time!

Feel free to PM me with any questions etc, the information is still fairly fresh in my mind so I'll try to help as best as I can
Definitely agree - but don't lose hope, guys - I came out of AS with a B, and my A2 results have just revealed that I've managed to score an A* (without resitting anything). You just need to adapt to the style of question and do more than memorise... and practice lots for the 25 mark question in BIOL5.
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Order 66
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I got a C on B1a and B1b and my target is A*. I'm dreading getting my B2 results (I missed going today).

I'm going to have to resit them both but surely if I got a C in both then it's more to do with me being bad at it than being unable?
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Shahida.
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(Original post by Paparazzo)
I got a C on B1a and B1b and my target is A*. I'm dreading getting my B2 results (I missed going today).

I'm going to have to resit them both but surely if I got a C in both then it's more to do with me being bad at it than being unable?
I got a C in B1a as well and I was predicted an A. What had me confused was how in all my practice papers I always managed to get an A/A* with a minimum of 28 marks out of 36. But this time round I got a C with 30 marks out of 36. Surely I deserve at least a B. (AQA)
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(Original post by Shahida.)
I got a C in B1a as well and I was predicted an A. What had me confused was how in all my practice papers I always managed to get an A/A* with a minimum of 28 marks out of 36. But this time round I got a C with 30 marks out of 36. Surely I deserve at least a B. (AQA)
Yeah that happened to me, it stumps me every time. Maybe I keep accidentally doing the Foundation paper... somehow?
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Shahida.
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(Original post by Paparazzo)
Yeah that happened to me, it stumps me every time. Maybe I keep accidentally doing the Foundation paper... somehow?
Well that could happen since Foundation and Higher are both on the same paper. But they're marked of with a either a gigantic F or H. I mean there's no way i I could have missed that. Right?
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(Original post by Shahida.)
Well that could happen since Foundation and Higher are both on the same paper. But they're marked of with a either a gigantic F or H. I mean there's no way i I could have missed that. Right?
That's exactly what I was thinking! Surely I can't just be bad, because I'm fine in the practice papers. And surely it's not exam nerves when I'm doing well in all the others...

Have to re-retake B1a anyway, I was meant to do it last term but I was told to stay home by the doctor.
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Shahida.
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Well I wish you good look for your re-sit. Hopefully we both do well
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16dan2life
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(Original post by Shahida.)
I got a C in B1a as well and I was predicted an A. What had me confused was how in all my practice papers I always managed to get an A/A* with a minimum of 28 marks out of 36. But this time round I got a C with 30 marks out of 36. Surely I deserve at least a B. (AQA)
The result you receive on paper isn't out of 36, they convert it into UMS out of 50
45/50-A*
40/50-A
35/50-B
30/50-C
So you basically got 30/50 which is a grade C, not 30/36(which would definitely be A minimum)
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Mena123
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What do you mean more than memorise? Could you give me some tips other than past papers questions.
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Logic4Life
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(Original post by Mena123)
What do you mean more than memorise? Could you give me some tips other than past papers questions.
When you realise this thread is 6 years old...
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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(Original post by Mena123)
What do you mean more than memorise? Could you give me some tips other than past papers questions.
Hi,

1. Check out these posts:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...0#post69556590


2.
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...6#post69263496
(Post No 7)

3.
I have taught several students who really hated biology to start with [perhaps cos they were applying for business or economics at uni!], but within a few weeks of help from me, they loved it and therefore started doing brilliantly - it's a Q of how you approach it - don't look at it as a thick book to memorize;

Learn to derive facts from everyday items.e.g. compare the internal environment of the human body to a room in your house - make it simple: in a room, take an object, say you have ten pears - how can that no. of pears change? work it out: the no of apples can decrease ONLY if (a) you eat (get rid of) one or two, [or 3, if you are fit like me!! - make biology fun, too] b) you buy less extra ones OR c) you throw some out of the window [mum won't be too happy if you do that!] - there are NO OTHER methods by which the no of pears can decrease! - Right?

IN THE SAME WAY: Biology Q: How can you get anaemia (= low haemoglobin [Hb] in the blood? OK - (a). Like pears being eaten, something destroys the Hb = haemolytic (heam = blood; lysis = breakdown) anaemia e.g. in malaria, the parasite enters erythrocytes (red blood cells [eryth = red; cyto = cell]) and makes them burst.(b) Like less pears being bought, less Hb might be produced (brought in) = aplastic anaemia = less Hb produced in the bone marrow of long bones [e.g.femur] e.g. some medicines can have this side effect (c) like losing pears out of window, Hb lost out of body = anaemia due to blood loss out of body e. g. EXTERNAL: after severe injury or INTERNAL: bleeding gastric (=of stomach) ulcer.

SEE: easy peasy, lemon squeezy

ONLY three main types of anaemia! And you worked out all 3!

Also use association and Greek roots - so so interesting (so fun, as you youngsters say!): we said above lysis = breakdown: - OK - THINK where else have you heard this syllable? YES correct: lysosome in cell, yeah? Why is it called lysosome? Because it lyses (breaks down, makes sense?) waste e.g. phagocytosed (phago = swallow, take in) bacteria in leucocytes (leuco = white; cyto = cell therefore white cells).

ETC ETC ETC

BEST OF LUCK!!
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