Exam Review: Biology

Biology exam reaction, written by Yeats College Biology teacher Katrina Davitt

A fair exam with plenty of choice.

Section A

Students were greeted with two straight forward questions from Unit 1 of the course, food and the scientific method. Questions three and four were based on digestion and plant structure, both of which had clear, easy to follow diagrams and questions.

Question 5 was a true or false question which really tested students on their knowledge of key terms and definitions used in genetics and plant chapters.

Question 6 was a challenging question as students had to distinguish between pairs of terms from five different chapters.

Question 7 was a straight forward question on genetic engineering accompanied by a clear diagram where students had to fill in the blanks. A lot of focus of genetics and plant in Section A but overall a nice way to start the exam.

Section B

This section did have a few surprises in terms of the lay out of the questions. In recent years, students would have seen specific questions on parts of experiments but this year they were asked for full procedures for the isolation of DNA, preparing immobilised enzymes and their application and finally digestive enzymes in germinating seeds. Each question did give students the option of drawing a labelled diagram of the apparatus, as part of their description and this would have been a big help to some. Each question was based on one experiment only which many students would have been happy to see.

Section C

Students may have been thrown a little when opening Section C to a question on plant reproduction but upon reading the question would have been relieved to see definitions, questions on adaptions, fruit formation and seed dispersal which were clearly worded and to the point. Describing the main events of pollen grain development would have been easy for the prepared student.

Question 12 was a lovely Ecology question based on predator-prey relationships and food webs/chains.

Question 13 (a)(b) were based on respiration and (c) photosynthesis. Detailed explanations were required for Glycolysis in respiration and also the cyclic pathway in Photosynthesis. Question 14 was based on bacteria and viruses, focusing on structures and reproduction/replication and definitions, a straight forward question.

Question 15 was based on genetics; an incomplete dominant cross was included here and this should not have caused any problems followed by (c) on evolution and natural selection. In questions 16 and 17 students had the choice of answering two questions from (a)(b)(c)(d).

Question 16 contained questions on the male reproductive system, the endocrine system, tropisms and human defence.

Question 17 contained questions on digestion and enzymes, fungi, the kidneys and cell division.

A well thought out exam which included fair questions on key areas of the course which are usually present on the exam, as well as a good mix of Unit three questions in Sections A and C to give students plenty of choice and the opportunity to show their learning.