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How to tackle Biology in Finals

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(Still in construction; last edit: 30 April 2017)

Hello there! What inspires me to write this long post is because of numerous questions I got in my inbox are mostly about "How to revise for Biology?" or "How do I get a 7 in my Biology HL/SL?" So here we go. Why should you trust me for this post? I have studied Chemistry HL & Biology HL, which I am a stressful little double-science student potato. The most insane thing I did was to get my Biology from 4 from the beginning of Grade 12 (IBDP1) into a 6 in my IB finals in Grade 13 (IBDP2).  I would like to share how I really revise for Biology, a continuation from my post back in April 2016 for all you stressed out IB students. 

The study method in this post is suitable for: IB Final Exam for Biology SL and HL Students, normal in-school exams for Biology SL and HL Students 

Beware: this is how I REVISE for my Biology exam, it may not be applicable to you because everyone has a unique way of revising. 

Q1: Why is Biology such a hard subject to students? 

  1. It has a huge topic range 
  2. Requires memorization 
  3. Requires different methods of revision

Q2: How do we revise for Biology? What is the best method to do so?

  • The best way to revise for Biology is to have a great habit of taking notes. Taking your own notes or highlighting key points in your book are the best ways to get things into your head. Biology has a huge and nearly impossible amount of knowledge that requires memorization, so a full understanding of the topics is the ultimate key to a high score in Biology.  
  • For IB Finals, I would highly recommend read your Biology materials no matter it is a book, or notes from your teacher, or even notes by yourself (if you have sufficient time), or else I will definitely recommend past papers.  Past paper gives you an insight of how is it like in the real exam, the amount of time you need to finish one question, and also most importantly, reflect on your mistakes and weakness in particular topics. 

Let me give you heads up on what methods or strategies that you can use or might find this useful, don't be really stressed seeing all those names down there.(Each topic has different ways to combat)

Flashcard methods will be useful in these topics:

  • DNA Transcription, Replication, Translation enzymes involved in all different reactions(HL)
  • Ecology (Domains, Kingdoms, Phylums, Classes for Chordata [HL only], Phylums for plants ) **
    • To memorise all those classifications, print out some pictures of animals, plants to have a fun game with
  • Mitosis vs Meiosis (diagrams especially independent assortment and crossing over)
    • Flashcard method will enable you to know the complete difference in the two similar processes that are very different somehow

Drawing method will be useful for:

  • Cell Biology
    • Ultrastructure of cells 
    • Membrane structure 
    • Membrane Transport
  • Molecular Biology 
    • Structures of amino acid, fatty acid, ribose, glucose
  • Genetics and Evolution  & Genetics and Evolution in AHL
    • Chromosome
    • (Also I will suggest finding some online practices to look at the genetic diagram, then doing Punnett square)
  • Ecology 
    • Carbon Cycling 
    • Climate Change (release of greenhouse gases from different sources) 
  • Evolution and Biodiversity 
    • Cladogram 
  • Human Physiology (huge topic for drawing - so I may miss a lot on this topic due to my short-term memory)
    • Whole digestive system
    • Structure of villi 
    • Gas Exchange (details of the lungs - trachea, bronchi, then aveoli in bronchioles) 
    • Neurons and Synapses 
  • Nucleic Acid (Transcription, Replication and Translation) 
    • label all the enzymes (e.g: Helicase) in each process 
    • double helix structure - where are the hydrogen, covalent bonds
  • Metabolism, Cell Respiration and Photosynthesis
    • Respiration (Kreb Cycle) Photosynthesis  (Calvin Cycle)
  • Plant Biology (Identifying Stem)
    • Xylem and Phloem differences 
  • Animal Physiology  (e.g: Movement from AHL)  and Option D in Human Physiology 

Notes will be useful for: 

  • All topics :nicole:


It has been a year since my IB Biology Exam, so I may forget to mention for certain topics or subtopics. Moreover, if you have any suggestions on how to expand this thread, please leave a comment below so I can improve this into a better post for May 2017 students who will have their exams very soon, also for future IB students. 

Good luck in your Biology Exam. Have fun! 

Edited by inriya
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