Dechante
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Hi, I have seen some year 11s choosing their A levels and questioning whether that subject is for them. I want to help people thinking taking biology (particularly OCR bc it's not as common as AQA biology). If you have any questions or need any tips. I'm more than happy to help. I have taken it for the past two years but I'm waiting for my predicted grades which is hopefully a B.
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Hellohsjakodsmka
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I'm doing it too!
What did you get?
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Dechante
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(Original post by Hellohsjakodsmka)
I'm doing it too!
What did you get?
I actually haven't gotten my grades yet because I'm in year 13 but I got an A in my mock so I'm hoping I get at least a B which is what I need for uni
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H4ttie03
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How did you find the step up from gcse
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Hellohsjakodsmka
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(Original post by Dechante)
I actually haven't gotten my grades yet because I'm in year 13 but I got an A in my mock so I'm hoping I get at least a B which is what I need for uni
ah good luckkk :woo:
how did you revise?
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Humairazaman
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(Original post by Dechante)
Hi, I have seen some year 11s choosing their A levels and questioning whether that subject is for them. I want to help people thinking taking biology (particularly OCR bc it's not as common as AQA biology). If you have any questions or need any tips. I'm more than happy to help. I have taken it for the past two years but I'm waiting for my predicted grades which is hopefully a B.
How do u manage ur time? How did u organise folders and what revision techniques did u use?
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Dechante
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(Original post by H4ttie03)
How did you find the step up from gcse
I would say in my experience it was quite a step up from GCSE because along with it being a hard transition in terms of content, I also moved sixth forms so I found that hard because they assumed everyone was already at the school and did OCR GCSE biology beforehand. When I first started, I won't lie I struggled a lot and was getting Es and Us which was hard for me as I want from being an A grade GCSE student to failing. I say it all comes down to learning how to condense information but still keeping the important information (defo recommend Quizlet or flashcards). For me, I understood the content I was learning but it was more the application of the question, how specific the mark scheme was and I wasn't good at multiple choice as it would throw me off so I would get 8/20 in that section. An example to show how strict the mark scheme was is you have to say cell surface membrane instead of just cell membrane in biology or you would lose the mark. The application is also hard because you'll get a question with ''suggest'' in it and go ''wait my teacher hasn't taught me this??'' but it's about applying what you know to show your scientific skills. This was different from GCSE as you'd get a question and you basically just have to know the answer like ''What does the MMR vaccine protect against?"'. There's a small amount of maths in biology but nothing too complicated and when you learn how to do it they are great marks to have. If you do decide to do a level biology physics and maths tutor will be your best friend (trust me). I went from getting poor grades to getting an A in my January mock so even though teachers nag about past papers literally do them until you know the answer.

I wish I had bought the CGP book which is called a head start to A level biology and read a bit of it over the summer. However, don't burn yourself out before you have even started. The CGP A level years 1 & 2 book is great to have on the side to condense information you're learning but obviously don't just rely on that. Also, you have several practicals you do during the two years called PAGs and if you were to do a science based degree it is required you pass but I think the new GCSE has required practicals now if I'm correct? I would say biology is challenging at some points (but very interesting) but it's not unbearable but like I said, it's about putting the time in. Just don't leave revision to last minute, revise as you go along and don't just treat free periods like a holiday constantly (I'm guilty of that). I honestly enjoyed A level biology, I don't regret it and it helped me decide what I want to do at uni.

What A levels were you thinking of doing?

I hope this insight helped
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Dechante
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(Original post by Hellohsjakodsmka)
ah good luckkk :woo:
how did you revise?
Are you in year 12?

I used a mix of resources. I will happily link some of them if you want as I have several saved on my google docs somewhere!! With OCR, I found it so hard to find resources due to it mainly being AQA resources. When I was having a long revision day, I would make flashcards on quizlet but I would do these as I went along with the course because it makes it so much easier when it came to exam days and mocks. I would also do past papers and sometimes these would be by topic e.g cell membranes and sometimes I would just do a past paper from like 2017. Make physics and maths tutor your best friend (promise it's worth it!). Around December, I had a goal of trying to do every past paper, even some of the old spec ones and trying to redo them to get higher but obviously due to corona happening I stopped revising after March. I made this tracker on google docs and would record what I would get on papers. I would defo say start with your hardest topic first because as much as we love the ultrastructure topic, the plant transport topic isn't about to go anywhere!! On a lazy day or if I just didn't understand a certain process I would watch videos on it. Most of the time it would be OCR specific videos like MrBioTom, BioRach and someone called Ryan Toal. However, I would also watch crash course videos.
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Dechante
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(Original post by Humairazaman)
How do u manage ur time? How did u organise folders and what revision techniques did u use?
Okay so for a little bit of background I took biology, chemistry and psychology at A level (I dropped maths after like three months lol). I would say I tried to prioritise subjects I found harder so biology was the subject I focused on the most. Some days I would do intensive revision e.g towards mock exams but other days even when I felt a bit lazy I would just try to watch a video like BioRach or MrBioTom1 which explains processes in a condensed way but still not getting rid of all the useful information. You obviously don't have to revise everyday and take breaks and everyone manages their time differently.

I organised my folders by module and had compartments for each topic so I had a five but I also had one where I would put my past papers in that I had attempted. I also put my extra revision with my school notes.

My revision techniques were mainly:
Videos e.g MrBioTom1 and BioRach
Past papers e.g the MCQs from the OCR website, OCR past papers, physics and maths tutor for questions by topic
Quizlet to make flashcards and sometimes I even copied questions I saw on papers
Starting with the hard topics before the easy ones
Sometimes me and my friends would get out our CGP book and go to each other's houses and test each other
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Humairazaman
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(Original post by Dechante)
Okay so for a little bit of background I took biology, chemistry and psychology at A level (I dropped maths after like three months lol). I would say I tried to prioritise subjects I found harder so biology was the subject I focused on the most. Some days I would do intensive revision e.g towards mock exams but other days even when I felt a bit lazy I would just try to watch a video like BioRach or MrBioTom1 which explains processes in a condensed way but still not getting rid of all the useful information. You obviously don't have to revise everyday and take breaks and everyone manages their time differently.

I organised my folders by module and had compartments for each topic so I had a five but I also had one where I would put my past papers in that I had attempted. I also put my extra revision with my school notes.

My revision techniques were mainly:
Videos e.g MrBioTom1 and BioRach
Past papers e.g the MCQs from the OCR website, OCR past papers, physics and maths tutor for questions by topic
Quizlet to make flashcards and sometimes I even copied questions I saw on papers
Starting with the hard topics before the easy ones
Sometimes me and my friends would get out our CGP book and go to each other's houses and test each other
Wow thank you so much. Did u make notes on the content when u got home every day? I hate spending my time on notes so I made all the year 1 notes using the spec and the oxford OCR biology textbook so that i dont spend time on that when i start 6th form.
Did u ever use Seneca? I’ve used it to make sense of the content but obvs the info is very condensed and simple which is why im using it.
Also, what course are u doing at uni?
Btw im in yr 11 going into yr 12
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H4ttie03
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(Original post by Dechante)
I would say in my experience it was quite a step up from GCSE because along with it being a hard transition in terms of content, I also moved sixth forms so I found that hard because they assumed everyone was already at the school and did OCR GCSE biology beforehand. When I first started, I won't lie I struggled a lot and was getting Es and Us which was hard for me as I want from being an A grade GCSE student to failing. I say it all comes down to learning how to condense information but still keeping the important information (defo recommend Quizlet or flashcards). For me, I understood the content I was learning but it was more the application of the question, how specific the mark scheme was and I wasn't good at multiple choice as it would throw me off so I would get 8/20 in that section. An example to show how strict the mark scheme was is you have to say cell surface membrane instead of just cell membrane in biology or you would lose the mark. The application is also hard because you'll get a question with ''suggest'' in it and go ''wait my teacher hasn't taught me this??'' but it's about applying what you know to show your scientific skills. This was different from GCSE as you'd get a question and you basically just have to know the answer like ''What does the MMR vaccine protect against?"'. There's a small amount of maths in biology but nothing too complicated and when you learn how to do it they are great marks to have. If you do decide to do a level biology physics and maths tutor will be your best friend (trust me). I went from getting poor grades to getting an A in my January mock so even though teachers nag about past papers literally do them until you know the answer.

I wish I had bought the CGP book which is called a head start to A level biology and read a bit of it over the summer. However, don't burn yourself out before you have even started. The CGP A level years 1 & 2 book is great to have on the side to condense information you're learning but obviously don't just rely on that. Also, you have several practicals you do during the two years called PAGs and if you were to do a science based degree it is required you pass but I think the new GCSE has required practicals now if I'm correct? I would say biology is challenging at some points (but very interesting) but it's not unbearable but like I said, it's about putting the time in. Just don't leave revision to last minute, revise as you go along and don't just treat free periods like a holiday constantly (I'm guilty of that). I honestly enjoyed A level biology, I don't regret it and it helped me decide what I want to do at uni.

What A levels were you thinking of doing?

I hope this insight helped
Omg this is such a detailed insight thank you v much! I was considering doing biology for a long time but I dont plan on doing a science degree (I think I want to do either a business course/spanish and business so bio isnt needed) so I'm not sure that i will take it for a level, but your insight has still been v useful to me! I think I'm going to take Spanish, psychology and geography
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Dechante
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(Original post by Humairazaman)
Wow thank you so much. Did u make notes on the content when u got home every day? I hate spending my time on notes so I made all the year 1 notes using the spec and the oxford OCR biology textbook so that i dont spend time on that when i start 6th form.
Did u ever use Seneca? I’ve used it to make sense of the content but obvs the info is very condensed and simple which is why im using it.
Also, what course are u doing at uni?
Btw im in yr 11 going into yr 12
I used Seneca literally two weeks before A level exams got cancelled so I can't really help much there :/ I honestly hate rewriting notes and have never been that girl to have all her pastel highlighters to make her notes pretty. I just write them in class and if I want condensed notes I would just use the CGP book along with my school notes or sometimes I would print off a picture of idk let's say a heart for the animal transport topic and write my own notes down while watching a video so I can absorb what is happening. It honestly varied on how often I did it. I usually did it in my study periods or sometimes if I'm having a lazy week I would do my quizlet flashcards on Saturday. I used to use the Oxford OCR biology textbook too especially for the questions but be careful not to rely on it too much bc according to my teachers there's a few mistakes in it! As you're in year 11 rn I would defo recommend getting the head start to biology CGP book so you know what's about to come and the CGP A level biology textbook years 1 and 2 as this was so helpful. They also do a workbook if you want that paper practice. I also plan on taking neuroscience at Exeter and this was due to me loving the anatomy side of biology but the biological side of A level psychology.
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Dechante
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(Original post by H4ttie03)
Omg this is such a detailed insight thank you v much! I was considering doing biology for a long time but I dont plan on doing a science degree (I think I want to do either a business course/spanish and business so bio isnt needed) so I'm not sure that i will take it for a level, but your insight has still been v useful to me! I think I'm going to take Spanish, psychology and geography
I would say if you don't plan on doing a science degree then you probs don't need it unless you think you would perform better in it. However, I know people who were in my bio class who went on to do criminology, psychology etc so it's all down to personal preference. I took biology and chemistry knowing I wanted to do a science degree. I actually originally wanted to do forensic science but knew it was also possibly something medical I wanted to do. I ended up changing this idea to neuroscience which was down to psychology A level making me interested in it with biology. I would say biology is great to do if you want to keep your options open to the sciencey subjects but you have respected A levels there and I'm sure you'll enjoy them.
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H4ttie03
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(Original post by Dechante)
I would say if you don't plan on doing a science degree then you probs don't need it unless you think you would perform better in it. However, I know people who were in my bio class who went on to do criminology, psychology etc so it's all down to personal preference. I took biology and chemistry knowing I wanted to do a science degree. I actually originally wanted to do forensic science but knew it was also possibly something medical I wanted to do. I ended up changing this idea to neuroscience which was down to psychology A level making me interested in it with biology. I would say biology is great to do if you want to keep your options open to the sciencey subjects but you have respected A levels there and I'm sure you'll enjoy them.
Yeah that's definitely true it does keep your options open, tbf it was one of my fav subjects at gcse but I've never rlly wanted to go into something medical related (my grandparents, mum and sister are doing/did healthcare jobs) so I'm not sure if I should do it, and ik it's a v hard subject to do especially when I dont particularly need it.
Good luck w your neuroscience degree, I'm sure you will be successful in it and your future career
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GCSE_Rockstar32
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Since A-Level Biology mark schemes are so strict, how would you go about knowing what you need to get the mark? For example, after doing a past paper, if you get a question wrong, would you just memorise it or how can you not make the same mistakes again in past papers? 😊
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Dechante
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Since A-Level Biology mark schemes are so strict, how would you go about knowing what you need to get the mark? For example, after doing a past paper, if you get a question wrong, would you just memorise it or how can you not make the same mistakes again in past papers? 😊
I would say I used to just do the papers constantly and learn the pattern that's involved in them. I did a tracker on google docs where I would record how I'm doing on papers and my plan was do them constantly until I was getting them right. My biggest tip is to be really harsh with yourself when marking. If you think you could have just scraped the mark, don't give it to yourself and motivate yourself! Also, look at mark schemes and see what's highlighted. For example, an answer might be on a mark scheme ''cell surface membrane'' meaning you have to have the word ''surface'' in to get the mark so if you put something like ''cell membrane'' don't give yourself the mark and remember that until you get it right. I bought quizlet premium which is only like 2 pounds a month so I was able to highlight and put in bold keywords when making my flashcards. If it's a certain topic you're noticing these patterns on I would recommend physics and maths tutor as they split the PPQs up by topic.
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GCSE_Rockstar32
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(Original post by Dechante)
I would say I used to just do the papers constantly and learn the pattern that's involved in them. I did a tracker on google docs where I would record how I'm doing on papers and my plan was do them constantly until I was getting them right. My biggest tip is to be really harsh with yourself when marking. If you think you could have just scraped the mark, don't give it to yourself and motivate yourself! Also, look at mark schemes and see what's highlighted. For example, an answer might be on a mark scheme ''cell surface membrane'' meaning you have to have the word ''surface'' in to get the mark so if you put something like ''cell membrane'' don't give yourself the mark and remember that until you get it right. I bought quizlet premium which is only like 2 pounds a month so I was able to highlight and put in bold keywords when making my flashcards. If it's a certain topic you're noticing these patterns on I would recommend physics and maths tutor as they split the PPQs up by topic.
Thank you 😊
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