Biology in the IB is probably one of the most content heavy subjects there is, and probably one of the exams that is marked the hardest, simply because its the only way to differentiate between students getting a 6, and those getting a 7 (after all, we can all memorise!). Breaking the 6-7 boundary in Biology is one of the hardest things to do, so here are my top 6 pieces of advice to help you on your way to that glorious 7:
- LEARN YOUR CONTENT – learn it back to front, inside out, top to bottom. Get that syllabus and recite answers to the syllabus dot points, rote learn the processes (e.g. endo- and exocytosis, production of antibodies etc.) and make sure you can define everything. Once you learn everything, you have now guaranteed yourself 100% of the easy marks, which makes up a good proportion of the paper! Oh, and don’t forget to learn your option in advance, there’s nothing like trying to cram (new) content the night before the final!
- PRACTICE DATA RESPONSE QUESTIONS – you either love it or you hate it, but either way this is a massive tipping point. It is the difference between a high 6 and a low 7. The more you practice these questions, the better you will become at predicting what they want from you. The data response often counts for at least 12/50 of the marks, and doing well at it is definitely a massive booster.
- UNDERSTAND COMMAND TERMS – learn how to answer questions and make sure you know the difference between command terms like “distinguish between” and “compare” and how to properly answer them. This can save you a mark here and there, and be the crucial difference between grades! (Great differentiating aspect in IB Biology exams, get it right!)
- PRACTICE EXTENDED RESPONSES – if you can maximise on the final 20 mark question, you’ve conquered 40% of the marks in the exam paper, its worth it! Get your teacher to mark them and give you feedback, and don’t leave this to the last minute!
- UNDERSTAND THE BIOLOGY – actually try to understand what is going on. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” in class, because the better you understand, the easier it will be to memorise the masses of content.
- DO YOUR IA WELL – 20% of marks should never be underestimated – see my post on How to write an excellent Biology IA for a step by step guide!
If you take some of this advice into account, you will be well on your way to getting a 7! Feel free to leave any questions below, I always reply 🙂