epicnm
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I know GCSE Bio has more of a focus on the body, like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system, the eye, liver, kidney, brain,etc but does A Level biology just briefly touch on these or is it more focused on “molecular” biology like proteins, DNA and genes. I’ve tried checking the specification but it is really vague. Also how is the step up from GCSE to A Level Bio? How do sixth form colleges ease you into the course? Thanks.
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Keeperoflegends
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There are many questions related to DNA and gene from what I have studied. Protein, saccharides and lipid yes u need to know about them and how they affect the properties of cells, enzymes etc when they are included in the structure or needed to pass through them. Did study about heart, gas exchange and nervous system but not other human body function for A levels. Not sure how much do different exam boards varies but i did edexcel ial
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yotsr123
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You will learn about molecular biology first as this is an extremely important foundation so you can understand the more complex topics. No, A level biology does not briefly touch on any of those topics, those will be learnt in MUCH more detail that you have learnt at GCSE which is why an understanding of the molecular topics is paramount.
The step up is not horrible, the new 9-1 GCSE's have done a great job in giving you the foundation to understand Biology at A level. If you've understood and done well in all the topics at GCSE, you'll find that the A level goes into the topics into more detail but nothing you haven't learnt before.
Sixth forms will begin teaching you the molecular biology topics (cells, microscopy, genes, carbons, glucose, cellulose, structure etc.) and will expect you to be reading ahead and know what you have learnt at GCSE. When you have learnt these things, they will begin teaching you the more complex topics but you will find, after you have understood the molecular topics, that it is not hard to understand.
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adri2000
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(Original post by epicnm)
I know GCSE Bio has more of a focus on the body, like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system, the eye, liver, kidney, brain,etc but does A Level biology just briefly touch on these or is it more focused on “molecular” biology like proteins, DNA and genes. I’ve tried checking the specification but it is really vague. Also how is the step up from GCSE to A Level Bio? How do sixth form colleges ease you into the course? Thanks.
I did OCR Biology. Probably was more stuff on proteins, hox genes, DNA etc. Nothing on the digestive system or the eye for me.

I didn't find the step up to A level too bad, just loads more stuff to learn.

The first topics we learnt were probably easier than some of the later ones, but they didn't really ease us into it tbh.
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epicnm
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(Original post by Keeperoflegends)
There are many questions related to DNA and gene from what I have studied. Protein, saccharides and lipid yes u need to know about them and how they affect the properties of cells, enzymes etc when they are included in the structure or needed to pass through them. Did study about heart, gas exchange and nervous system but not other human body function for A levels. Not sure how much do different exam boards varies but i did edexcel ial
Thanks-that’s what I thought!
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epicnm
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(Original post by yotsr123)
You will learn about molecular biology first as this is an extremely important foundation so you can understand the more complex topics. No, A level biology does not briefly touch on any of those topics, those will be learnt in MUCH more detail that you have learnt at GCSE which is why an understanding of the molecular topics is paramount.
The step up is not horrible, the new 9-1 GCSE's have done a great job in giving you the foundation to understand Biology at A level. If you've understood and done well in all the topics at GCSE, you'll find that the A level goes into the topics into more detail but nothing you haven't learnt before.
Sixth forms will begin teaching you the molecular biology topics (cells, microscopy, genes, carbons, glucose, cellulose, structure etc.) and will expect you to be reading ahead and know what you have learnt at GCSE. When you have learnt these things, they will begin teaching you the more complex topics but you will find, after you have understood the molecular topics, that it is not hard to understand.
Thanks for this! Because looking at past papers seemed to have a lot of emphasis on those molecular foundations. Are those foundations taught for all of the first year, or do the more complex topics start during the first year? Thanks again!
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epicnm
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(Original post by adri2000)
I did OCR Biology. Probably was more stuff on proteins, hox genes, DNA etc. Nothing on the digestive system or the eye for me.

I didn't find the step up to A level too bad, just loads more stuff to learn.

The first topics we learnt were probably easier than some of the later ones, but they didn't really ease us into it tbh.
Thanks! I think my sixth form would also be doing OCR and looking at the past papers show there is real emphasis on this. How did you manage the workload?
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riekeleah
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Just finished year 1 and started year 2 of OCR A Level biology and yeah there’s a lot of focus on molecules and such, as well as processes (a whole unit on photosynthesis in year 2 lol). I’d suggest that you go on OCRs website and look at the specification for biology as that will tell you every unit and module and break it down for you
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yotsr123
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(Original post by epicnm)
Thanks for this! Because looking at past papers seemed to have a lot of emphasis on those molecular foundations. Are those foundations taught for all of the first year, or do the more complex topics start during the first year? Thanks again!
Hi, it depends on the teaching pace of your sixth form. The AS content does have some mildly complex topics. My sixth form went at quite a fast pace so we finished the AS content that had some complex topics in near the ending of the year. Most of the year was used to teach the molecular foundations content though.
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DGeorge13
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I did aqa but didn’t find year 1 too challenging although the workload must be kept on top of ( wish me luck for year 2 although photosynthesis hasn’t been as bad as I thought!)
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epicnm
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(Original post by riekeleah)
Just finished year 1 and started year 2 of OCR A Level biology and yeah there’s a lot of focus on molecules and such, as well as processes (a whole unit on photosynthesis in year 2 lol). I’d suggest that you go on OCRs website and look at the specification for biology as that will tell you every unit and module and break it down for you
Thanks! I’ll definitely check! Good luck for Year 2!
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epicnm
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(Original post by yotsr123)
Hi, it depends on the teaching pace of your sixth form. The AS content does have some mildly complex topics. My sixth form went at quite a fast pace so we finished the AS content that had some complex topics in near the ending of the year. Most of the year was used to teach the molecular foundations content though.
Oh ok, that makes sense. Thanks again!
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epicnm
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(Original post by DGeorge13)
I did aqa but didn’t find year 1 too challenging although the workload must be kept on top of ( wish me luck for year 2 although photosynthesis hasn’t been as bad as I thought!)
Thanks for this! Did you find the workload too heavy and how did you manage to keep on top of it. Good luck for your final year!
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adri2000
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(Original post by epicnm)
Thanks! I think my sixth form would also be doing OCR and looking at the past papers show there is real emphasis on this. How did you manage the workload?
Not bigging myself up but I have quite a good memory. So where some people found chemistry much easier than biology, I found it way harder. Biology isn't really hard to understand I don't think, just there is a lot to remember. And sometimes the exam questions aren't obvious in what they are looking for. I would just say it is very important to make sure you have good revision notes at the end of each topic- there is way too much to try and do notes for every topic in the few months before exams. Some people like to keep their notes condensed but I just preferred to have everything written down and didn't find it too hard to remember. I didn't make flashcards, I had it all typed up on word as I just found it easier to read through like that but everyone is different. I really didn't find the workload too bad. But our school always made us do end of topic tests, so I was forced to keep on top of revision notes, otherwise i probably would have fallen behind with those. Good luck.
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Jamie_1712
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You’ll learn about tonnes of things about the human body and molecular level stuff. However if you do ocr, they’ll only test you on the plant topics.
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DGeorge13
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(Original post by epicnm)
Thanks for this! Did you find the workload too heavy and how did you manage to keep on top of it. Good luck for your final year!
I would say I spent around 13 hours a week out of lessons but with my other subjects taking around 10 between them it wasn’t too hard to manage. We had a worksheet to do every lesson which obviously had to be finished and exam questions on each section for every lesson. I managed by keeping up and doing this everyday then making notes from the ppt and textbooks on a page per topic and then typed these up onto the computer reducing the overall content by about 6x and then went through these each week ensuring to get through the whole content in a fortnight or so and will extend this to year 2. Around exams I also did ppqs and had a separate set of notes to write to please my teacher. I cannot emphasise enough the value of reading ahead either
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Ccyxxx
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Personally, I found Alevel biology very hard.
There is a lot more content compared to the other A levels( i took (english language and psychology)) and you need to remember and thoroughly understand everythinggg because all topics link in and cross over.
The content itself is difficult as it can be hard to remember all the details especially as it is mostly about intracellular process&structures also half of the content is on plants.
You learn more words than you do in Alevel French, its like a whole new language.
Not only that, even if you fully understand and know all the knowledge the exam questions are so difficult you don't know what they are asking you about and how much depth they want you to answer in.
Also, the mark scheme is so harsh you literally have to write the mark scheme word for word in your answer to get a point.

But it is very interesting, useful if you need a science Alevel for a uni course and you have to put a lot of work in. I probably focused double of my time on Biology compared to other A levels and I would be really lucky to get a B. It is doable bare in mind I only got a B in biology GCSE.
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epicnm
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(Original post by adri2000)
Not bigging myself up but I have quite a good memory. So where some people found chemistry much easier than biology, I found it way harder. Biology isn't really hard to understand I don't think, just there is a lot to remember. And sometimes the exam questions aren't obvious in what they are looking for. I would just say it is very important to make sure you have good revision notes at the end of each topic- there is way too much to try and do notes for every topic in the few months before exams. Some people like to keep their notes condensed but I just preferred to have everything written down and didn't find it too hard to remember. I didn't make flashcards, I had it all typed up on word as I just found it easier to read through like that but everyone is different. I really didn't find the workload too bad. But our school always made us do end of topic tests, so I was forced to keep on top of revision notes, otherwise i probably would have fallen behind with those. Good luck.
Thanks, although I think my memory is quite bad. Also how are you able to answer unobvious exam questions?
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epicnm
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(Original post by Jamie_1712)
You’ll learn about tonnes of things about the human body and molecular level stuff. However if you do ocr, they’ll only test you on the plant topics.
Ahh my least favourite topic in biology! And just my luck I’ll be doing OCR!
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epicnm
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(Original post by DGeorge13)
I would say I spent around 13 hours a week out of lessons but with my other subjects taking around 10 between them it wasn’t too hard to manage. We had a worksheet to do every lesson which obviously had to be finished and exam questions on each section for every lesson. I managed by keeping up and doing this everyday then making notes from the ppt and textbooks on a page per topic and then typed these up onto the computer reducing the overall content by about 6x and then went through these each week ensuring to get through the whole content in a fortnight or so and will extend this to year 2. Around exams I also did ppqs and had a separate set of notes to write to please my teacher. I cannot emphasise enough the value of reading ahead either
I know, throughout GCSE, reading ahead was the main thing that saved me! Was that 13 hours just for biology? I hope my sixth form will give us more resources than I got during GCSE from my secondary school, which was next to nothing.
Also, you mentioned you typed up your notes-is that personal preference or because handwriting would be too time consuming. Thanks
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