anyone else capping out at like 70-80% marks in biology?

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othello03
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#1
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#1
basically I need AAA or A*AB for my uni offer. I'm trying to do the best in all of my subjects obviously, but I think that third A will be a struggle. On the other hand I think an A* in biology is achievable for me.

I understand 90% of the content, and I'm doing practice questions and papers and I am doing well. But I've noticed I'm consistently getting in the 70-80% range with my marks. Which is not bad at all. I think it's amounted to at least an A in every paper I've done,
But it's not comfortable, or a safe bet. And biology mark schemes are so so incredibly unpredictable and inconsistent.

Is there something I'm missing, how do people on here get A*s in biology? All the marks I'm losing are generally application, some are vocab. One paper i had a 5 marker on how enzymes work, I went through it all blah blah blah tertiary structure 3D shape, complementary active site etc etc. I said everything but lost 2 marks because I didn't say enzyme substrate complex. Then the identical question on another paper "ignore reference to enzyme-substrate complex"

Also question 1 on here,

https://pmt.physicsandmathstutor.com...rates%20QP.pdf

like biological molecules is the easiest topic in the whole a-level, I've revised it and been tested so many times over the past two years I legit think I know every fact in that textbook chapter. But I still only got 1/3 on the 1a question. Things I said were perfectly reasonable, but not the ones on the mark scheme. So many other examples in biology, where you can say things that are completely correct and any scientist in the world would agree they are reasonable suggestions, but they are not on the mark scheme so noooo.

Any tips anyone, pls?
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TriplexA
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#2
Report 4 weeks ago
#2
(Original post by othello03)
basically I need AAA or A*AB for my uni offer. I'm trying to do the best in all of my subjects obviously, but I think that third A will be a struggle. On the other hand I think an A* in biology is achievable for me.

I understand 90% of the content, and I'm doing practice questions and papers and I am doing well. But I've noticed I'm consistently getting in the 70-80% range with my marks. Which is not bad at all. I think it's amounted to at least an A in every paper I've done,
But it's not comfortable, or a safe bet. And biology mark schemes are so so incredibly unpredictable and inconsistent.

Is there something I'm missing, how do people on here get A*s in biology? All the marks I'm losing are generally application, some are vocab. One paper i had a 5 marker on how enzymes work, I went through it all blah blah blah tertiary structure 3D shape, complementary active site etc etc. I said everything but lost 2 marks because I didn't say enzyme substrate complex. Then the identical question on another paper "ignore reference to enzyme-substrate complex"

Also question 1 on here,

https://pmt.physicsandmathstutor.com...rates%20QP.pdf

like biological molecules is the easiest topic in the whole a-level, I've revised it and been tested so many times over the past two years I legit think I know every fact in that textbook chapter. But I still only got 1/3 on the 1a question. Things I said were perfectly reasonable, but not the ones on the mark scheme. So many other examples in biology, where you can say things that are completely correct and any scientist in the world would agree they are reasonable suggestions, but they are not on the mark scheme so noooo.

Any tips anyone, pls?
Hi there.

Biology mark schemes are very picky unfortunately.

I personally attempted all 5 marker Qs from past papers and merged mark schemes for similar topics. I then memorised these merged mark schemes (and modified/added to them when I missed off other mark scheme points from other Qs). Doing this allowed me to get as many marks as possible out of the 20 available marks (typically 4x 5 long answer Qs on a standard paper) whilst also saving valuable time in exams and assessments. The content from the merged mark schemes was also useful for 1-2 markers too.

That Q1 above is a dreaded application Q so don't worry too much. All you can do is practice these types of Qs so you're able to understand what the Q is asking more easily. For that Q I think it's something to do with more lactose being able to be broken down (so more lactose-free milk can be produced) as lactase has a greater surface area to act on?

Hope this helps.
Best wishes.
Last edited by TriplexA; 4 weeks ago
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Anonymous204
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#3
Report 4 weeks ago
#3
(Original post by othello03)
basically I need AAA or A*AB for my uni offer. I'm trying to do the best in all of my subjects obviously, but I think that third A will be a struggle. On the other hand I think an A* in biology is achievable for me.

I understand 90% of the content, and I'm doing practice questions and papers and I am doing well. But I've noticed I'm consistently getting in the 70-80% range with my marks. Which is not bad at all. I think it's amounted to at least an A in every paper I've done,
But it's not comfortable, or a safe bet. And biology mark schemes are so so incredibly unpredictable and inconsistent.

Is there something I'm missing, how do people on here get A*s in biology? All the marks I'm losing are generally application, some are vocab. One paper i had a 5 marker on how enzymes work, I went through it all blah blah blah tertiary structure 3D shape, complementary active site etc etc. I said everything but lost 2 marks because I didn't say enzyme substrate complex. Then the identical question on another paper "ignore reference to enzyme-substrate complex"

Also question 1 on here,

https://pmt.physicsandmathstutor.com...rates%20QP.pdf

like biological molecules is the easiest topic in the whole a-level, I've revised it and been tested so many times over the past two years I legit think I know every fact in that textbook chapter. But I still only got 1/3 on the 1a question. Things I said were perfectly reasonable, but not the ones on the mark scheme. So many other examples in biology, where you can say things that are completely correct and any scientist in the world would agree they are reasonable suggestions, but they are not on the mark scheme so noooo.

Any tips anyone, pls?
This isn't related to the context but how do you get A's. I'm stuck on B's atm I really wanna push my grade up is there any websites you use or how do u structure your revision I dont know where to start 😭
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lilhuddy
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#4
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#4
I don’t think I have ever gotten above 80% in a paper but its fine bc its literally like 67% for an A*
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Perplexed2
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#5
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#5
(Original post by TriplexA)
Hi there.

Biology mark schemes are very picky unfortunately.

I personally attempted all 5 marker Qs from past papers and merged mark schemes for similar topics. I then memorised these merged mark schemes (and modified/added to them when I missed off other mark scheme points from other Qs). Doing this allowed me to get as many marks as possible out of the 20 available marks (typically 4x 5 long answer Qs on a standard paper) whilst also saving valuable time in exams and assessments. The content from the merged mark schemes was also useful for 1-2 markers too.

That Q1 above is a dreaded application Q so don't worry too much. All you can do is practice these types of Qs so you're able to understand what the Q is asking more easily. For that Q I think it's something to do with more lactose being able to be broken down (so more lactose-free milk can be produced) as lactase has a greater surface area to act on?

Hope this helps.
Best wishes.
Hi Triplex A, I think your merged answers are a great idea. One thing I heard, though, is that they will only mark eg the first 4 points for a 4 marker. Is this true? That would add another layer of complexity - meaning that you have to put everything in the 'best' order or you won't get the marks. Alternatively, do you think the examiners would look over your whole answer, tick the bits they like best and ignore the rest? Thanks!
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TriplexA
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#6
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#6
(Original post by Perplexed2)
Hi Triplex A, I think your merged answers are a great idea. One thing I heard, though, is that they will only mark eg the first 4 points for a 4 marker. Is this true? That would add another layer of complexity - meaning that you have to put everything in the 'best' order or you won't get the marks. Alternatively, do you think the examiners would look over your whole answer, tick the bits they like best and ignore the rest? Thanks!
That's interesting - unfortunately I'm not in a position to advise any further, as I did my exams a while ago (so it may well have changed), but thought it may be useful for others so they remember to practice/review long answer Qs.

I wish you and all Biology students all the best for the exams though!
Last edited by TriplexA; 4 weeks ago
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othello03
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#7
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#7
(Original post by Perplexed2)
Hi Triplex A, I think your merged answers are a great idea. One thing I heard, though, is that they will only mark eg the first 4 points for a 4 marker. Is this true? That would add another layer of complexity - meaning that you have to put everything in the 'best' order or you won't get the marks. Alternatively, do you think the examiners would look over your whole answer, tick the bits they like best and ignore the rest? Thanks!
my teacher has touched on this


from what I understand, they won't mark in any order. fo the 4/5/6 mark answers, there's often more possible marks, than there are marks available. so for a 5 marker, there are maybe 6 or 7 points you could make that would get you a mark. In that case they'd just give you 5, it wouldn't be down to any order.

sometimes things must be in pairs though, like with the structure of starch, you have to say its helical and therefore compact, + branched therefore easily broken down. can't say helical +broken down (bad example but I'm struggling to think of others off the top of my head).

they also have ignore and reject. Ignore means they will pretend it's not there, reject means it is wrong, but won't count against you. Unless another marking point was dependent on it. E.g if the q was, why is the structure of cellulose beneficial for plants? the marking scheme might say
1) long straight chains
2) joined by hydrogen
3) to form microbirils
4) for support

(reject reference to ionic bonds)

then perhaps you put that they are joined by ionic bonds, you might lose marks because of that because the rest of your answer was dependent on understanding the crosslinks. (not entirely sure on this, but it's what I've been led to believe)

I believe as well, if you contradict yourself in your answer, your examiner has to choose which to believe. My teacher says this is especially common with genetics/dna/rna type questions. Saying something is a gene, when it is actually a protein, or an allele. I think examiners have some discretion here, and depending on the rest of your answer, and what the mark scheme says, can cost you a lot of marks.

also for questions where it's like "give 2 other variables they would've controlled"
in that instance, if you write more than 2, they pick the first 2, whether right or wrong. and ignore everything after that,

that's all the tidbits I've gathered. no idea if it is correct, it is just what my teacher has told me, she used to be an examiner, but hasn't for a few years so?
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othello03
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Anonymous204)
This isn't related to the context but how do you get A's. I'm stuck on B's atm I really wanna push my grade up is there any websites you use or how do u structure your revision I dont know where to start 😭
I really reallyyyyy tried to hammer in content and understanding. so much of bio is application sure, but a lot is also pure knowledge and recall. plus you can't really do the application without the knowledge.

I made flashcards for like EVERYTHING. I did it in January while I had covid so had a bit more time then, and it took me ages I ended up with about 400 or something. in hindsight I probably didn't need to make them all, e.g I don't need a flashcard to define a glycosidic bond anymore I've had that hammered in for a while. anyway I completely neglected them until like a month ago and have started doing them every other day all the way through since and that has really helped. if you don't understand something, watch a YouTube video, it's much easier than trying to teach yourself from a textbook.

and lastly past papers past papers past papers of course. the majority of lost marks for most people in bio comes down to this. and I think it's where most people can make the quickest improvement. I'm sure you're already doing some, but you really can't do enough. I would take a day, wake up early, and do every question from PMT. It will take a while but you can probably do them all in a day, or two if you want. See what you're losing marks on, if it's content go back and revise the content. If it's exam technique, then collect all the questions you got wrong. Take a day off to do some other subject revision, then the day after do every wrong question again.

I also think you really really have to hammer down what I call 'stock answers'. The same 4/5/6 mark questions come up again and again in some form. Translation, Transcription, DNA Replication, Mitosis, Meiosis, Enzymes, Ultrafiltration, resting potential, axons, control of heart rate, ultracentrifugation, natural selection, and many more Across the 3 papers there will 1000% be at least some of these. And they are the easiest marks, because the mark scheme barely changes for the. You need to be comfortable with writing perfect answers to these types of questions as that's where the bulk of the marks in the papers come from. It's also handy to have paragraphs like that ready for the essay.
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Anonymous204
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#9
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#9
(Original post by othello03)
I really reallyyyyy tried to hammer in content and understanding. so much of bio is application sure, but a lot is also pure knowledge and recall. plus you can't really do the application without the knowledge.

I made flashcards for like EVERYTHING. I did it in January while I had covid so had a bit more time then, and it took me ages I ended up with about 400 or something. in hindsight I probably didn't need to make them all, e.g I don't need a flashcard to define a glycosidic bond anymore I've had that hammered in for a while. anyway I completely neglected them until like a month ago and have started doing them every other day all the way through since and that has really helped. if you don't understand something, watch a YouTube video, it's much easier than trying to teach yourself from a textbook.

and lastly past papers past papers past papers of course. the majority of lost marks for most people in bio comes down to this. and I think it's where most people can make the quickest improvement. I'm sure you're already doing some, but you really can't do enough. I would take a day, wake up early, and do every question from PMT. It will take a while but you can probably do them all in a day, or two if you want. See what you're losing marks on, if it's content go back and revise the content. If it's exam technique, then collect all the questions you got wrong. Take a day off to do some other subject revision, then the day after do every wrong question again.

I also think you really really have to hammer down what I call 'stock answers'. The same 4/5/6 mark questions come up again and again in some form. Translation, Transcription, DNA Replication, Mitosis, Meiosis, Enzymes, Ultrafiltration, resting potential, axons, control of heart rate, ultracentrifugation, natural selection, and many more Across the 3 papers there will 1000% be at least some of these. And they are the easiest marks, because the mark scheme barely changes for the. You need to be comfortable with writing perfect answers to these types of questions as that's where the bulk of the marks in the papers come from. It's also handy to have paragraphs like that ready for the essay.
Thank you so much and are u focusing solely on the advanced info for bio? I'm scared that if I only revise content on the advanced info something might come up that I ain't revised
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othello03
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#10
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#10
(Original post by Anonymous204)
Thank you so much and are u focusing solely on the advanced info for bio? I'm scared that if I only revise content on the advanced info something might come up that I ain't revised
pretty much yeah. I've got a whole day free before paper 1 and paper 2 (not paper 3 but oh well). So I think for the next 2 weeks I'm just going to do advance info, then on the day before the exam, I'll try to cover a bit of the non-advance-info stuff.

I don't really have a plan for it, I'm just going to take it as it goes. Like immunity is not in the advance info, but it's a massive topic, so I don't think it will be on the paper tbh. Whereas like ATP and Water in unit 1, are supposedly not on the exam but that info is still important to know. There could definitely be 1/2/3 markers on it, and it comes into play with other topics too. Same with digestion and absorption, not in the advance info but relatively small, and linked to other topics so it would be useful to know.

ultimately ******** it, but oh well
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