Biology Paper Review

By Niamh Lyons

The Higher-level Biology paper was wide ranging and balanced with plenty of choice. There were, however, some difficult parts to questions that students would have found challenging.  

Section A consisted of seven questions and students required to answer four. The first four questions included food, ecology definitions, genetics, and respiration.  Question 5 may have been avoided by many, it was a true or false question based on a mixture of topics from different units on the course. Question 6 was based on digestion, however it focused in on the enzyme lipase and analysis of a graph, which may have challenged some students.  Question 7 focused on the structure of a virus with a special mention to Covid 19.  

In section B, students were required to answer one out three options based on the mandatory experiments. Question 8 was based on the cell and microscope. Question 9 was a nice question on the effect of light on the rate of photosynthesis with question 10 based on the IAA experiment, which students tend to find a difficult experiment. 

Section C this year also provided additional choice, featuring a full question on bacteria, ecology, and genetics. Most of question 14 was based on photosynthesis, it included a diagram which would have made this question more approachable to some students. In question 15, part a and b were based on human excretion, however, some students may not have been happy with part c as it included questions on plant biology.  Some students would have been delighted with question 16 and 17 as students only had to do two out of the four parts in each question. They included a range of human biology questions which meant students could still choose to avoid plants and genetics in this section.