Anonymous #1
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I am in year 12 and I am currently getting D's. I use active recall and all the techniques out there including past papers but the past papers for OCR A level biology are useless. I don't know how to get an A. Any tips?
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Jaegis
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I am in year 12 and I am currently getting D's. I use active recall and all the techniques out there including past papers but the past papers for OCR A level biology are useless. I don't know how to get an A. Any tips?
What do you mean by the past papers being useless? If you want to try finding more, though, go on physicsandmathstutor. It doesn't just do physics and maths, it does subjects like biology as well. It has past papers, but it also has revision notes and flashcards, which I find really helpful for revision. There'll be other websites as well, so go looking!

How much work are you putting in, in and outside the lessons? In the lessons, you need to make sure you pay attention - either take notes or annotate anything the teacher has given you, and you'll take in a lot more. The better your notes - not necessarily the more notes! - the easier it'll be later on. At some point after the lesson (within a day or two if you can) go over your notes, and preferably one more time to get it in there. It's a technique that's proven to work.

And when you have to revise for a test, make sure you actually revise. All the fancy flashcards and notes in the world can't help you learn if you don't use them. Also, while the physicsandmathstutor cards are helpful, I find that making my own flashcards helps me a lot more - it's another opportunity for your brain to see information again. Don't just read your notes, that's too passive - rewrite them, test yourself on them, whatever your find works. There's also a technique called "blurting" - read through your notes, then get a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you can remember about a page of notes, or a topic. As you keep doing this, you'll find yourself recalling more and more at a time, and that quick recall is what you need in an exam.

Once you've done some revision, that's when you get out the past papers. Doing them before you actually know the material doesn't help - that may be why you find them useless. Physicsandmathstutor has questions by topic as well as whole papers, which are really helpful when you have a test coming up. Do a paper or a set of questions, then find the mark scheme and go through. Analyse every mistake you made. If you find the same mistakes cropping up, or the same gaps in your knowledge, work on them. Good grades are as much about exam technique as they are about knowing the material.

Please bear in mind, though, that it's the beginning of the year. I'm year 12 too, and I've found the step-up from GCSE really hard to handle. Don't be too tough on yourself! I know year 13s who were getting Ds at the beginning of sixth form and are now getting A/A*s - it gets better.
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Anonymous #1
#3
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(Original post by Jaegis)
What do you mean by the past papers being useless? If you want to try finding more, though, go on physicsandmathstutor. It doesn't just do physics and maths, it does subjects like biology as well. It has past papers, but it also has revision notes and flashcards, which I find really helpful for revision. There'll be other websites as well, so go looking!

How much work are you putting in, in and outside the lessons? In the lessons, you need to make sure you pay attention - either take notes or annotate anything the teacher has given you, and you'll take in a lot more. The better your notes - not necessarily the more notes! - the easier it'll be later on. At some point after the lesson (within a day or two if you can) go over your notes, and preferably one more time to get it in there. It's a technique that's proven to work.

And when you have to revise for a test, make sure you actually revise. All the fancy flashcards and notes in the world can't help you learn if you don't use them. Also, while the physicsandmathstutor cards are helpful, I find that making my own flashcards helps me a lot more - it's another opportunity for your brain to see information again. Don't just read your notes, that's too passive - rewrite them, test yourself on them, whatever your find works. There's also a technique called "blurting" - read through your notes, then get a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you can remember about a page of notes, or a topic. As you keep doing this, you'll find yourself recalling more and more at a time, and that quick recall is what you need in an exam.

Once you've done some revision, that's when you get out the past papers. Doing them before you actually know the material doesn't help - that may be why you find them useless. Physicsandmathstutor has questions by topic as well as whole papers, which are really helpful when you have a test coming up. Do a paper or a set of questions, then find the mark scheme and go through. Analyse every mistake you made. If you find the same mistakes cropping up, or the same gaps in your knowledge, work on them. Good grades are as much about exam technique as they are about knowing the material.

Please bear in mind, though, that it's the beginning of the year. I'm year 12 too, and I've found the step-up from GCSE really hard to handle. Don't be too tough on yourself! I know year 13s who were getting Ds at the beginning of sixth form and are now getting A/A*s - it gets better.
I'm doing OCR for a level biology. I know all the content inside and out however when I'm in the exam it seems I always get 2/4 marks or 1/2 marks and never full marks. The markschemes and past papers are useless. I don't do the physics and maths tutor questions. I do the recent ones and then all the others from 2000. And for your information my notes are not pretty and I make my flashcards on anki. I read all the examiner reports relevant for the topic.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm doing OCR for a level biology. I know all the content inside and out however when I'm in the exam it seems I always get 2/4 marks or 1/2 marks and never full marks. The markschemes and past papers are useless. I don't do the physics and maths tutor questions. I do the recent ones and then all the others from 2000. And for your information my notes are not pretty and I make my flashcards on anki. I read all the examiner reports relevant for the topic.
The questions don't repeat for OCR.
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Anonymous #2
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You should use the specification as a guide to help you revise the content. For each topic make notes and revise them thoroughly. Past Papers are more useful than you think. As you do more past papers, there tends to be patterns in questions. A lot of similar questions are asked in past papers, or worded differently. There are also many useful revision videos out there on Youtube too. Consistently is key. Once you have finished learning a topic in class, use your time at home to make revision notes and revise over them, so that you retain your knowledge. When doing past papers, it’s okay to have your notes out in front of you, as long as you answer the question yourself. When you do past papers, its important to not only complete them, but using the markscheme to check your answers. Markschemes are the key to making sure your answers in exams are better. Study the markschemes, as they contain the key vocabulary you need to use in your own answers. When it comes to mathematical questions, try attempt them yourself using your textbooks and videos as a guide, and only when you don’t understand it, go to the markscheme to see where you are wrong, and if you still don’t understand, ask your teacher for help. When you revise your Chem, it’s important you understand what is in front of you, and if you don’t, it means you need to cover that topic again, and revise some more. Hope that helps.
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Jaegis
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm doing OCR for a level biology. I know all the content inside and out however when I'm in the exam it seems I always get 2/4 marks or 1/2 marks and never full marks. The markschemes and past papers are useless. I don't do the physics and maths tutor questions. I do the recent ones and then all the others from 2000. And for your information my notes are not pretty and I make my flashcards on anki. I read all the examiner reports relevant for the topic.
If you know the material but lose marks when it comes to the actual exam, my only real advice is to learn the mark scheme inside and out, not just the content - although the fact that you do know it means you're already doing far better than many people. If you can, ask to meet with your teacher to discuss any recent tests - they'll know about how to hit all those key points that the mark scheme requires. Learn definitions by heart. And I want to second this;
(Original post by Anonymous)
When you do past papers, its important to not only complete them, but using the markscheme to check your answers. Markschemes are the key to making sure your answers in exams are better. Study the markschemes, as they contain the key vocabulary you need to use in your own answers.
This this this. The "key vocabulary" is exactly what you need. It's all very well knowing the material, but you need to tell people that you know it. Yes, it's jumping through hoops, and it sucks, but it has to be done.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Jaegis)
If you know the material but lose marks when it comes to the actual exam, my only real advice is to learn the mark scheme inside and out, not just the content - although the fact that you do know it means you're already doing far better than many people. If you can, ask to meet with your teacher to discuss any recent tests - they'll know about how to hit all those key points that the mark scheme requires. Learn definitions by heart. And I want to second this;

This this this. The "key vocabulary" is exactly what you need. It's all very well knowing the material, but you need to tell people that you know it. Yes, it's jumping through hoops, and it sucks, but it has to be done.
Ok Thanks but are you doing ocr a level biology because most people I know are doing AQA and I know AQA is easier since the markschemes are better. I used to do AQA at GCSE but now I don't
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Jaegis
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Ok Thanks but are you doing ocr a level biology because most people I know are doing AQA and I know AQA is easier since the markschemes are better. I used to do AQA at GCSE but now I don't
I don't do OCR, I do edexcel. Yeah, that does mean I can't offer really specific advice, BUT most of the advice for any exam board is similar, so I think it's a good place to start. There's probably other threads that are more about OCR.

Good luck in biology!
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