Revision tips for IGCSE Biology students

The syllabus has now been completed for the PMG Y11 Biologists so for the next few weeks the focus shifts onto your personal work and learning.  I am available throughout the Easter break of course so please email/tweet etc. with any questions or problem areas. I will try to post a few interesting things onto this blog to keep your motivation levels up!

The main challenge for you looking ahead to these exams is to master the breadth of knowledge and understanding needed.  There are few areas that are conceptually too challenging but there is plenty of content to learn and this can only be achieved with organised revision.

Here are a few PMG tips for revision planning:

1) Time is Limited so you need to make the very best use of it in every revision session for Biology.  Every session you work on Biology you need to be actively using various parts of your brain not just the visual cortex. Don’t read but instead make summary notes, flow diagrams, Flash Cards etc.  Then practise questions, copy down mark schemes onto card etc.  Make revision movies or Powerpoints – make revision fun!

2) Your textbook should now come into its own.  This book has been specifically written for our specification so it should include all the subjects you need to know about with no extraneous material.  I would use this textbook now as your primary source for revision, using notes and other sources when needed if a particular idea is unclear.

3) You now have three booklets of past paper questions (together with mark schemes if you have been to my lab to collect them!)  These booklets should be used for testing your own understanding once you have revised a particular topic.  Don’t ever look at the MS unless you have attempted the question:  this tricks you into an alternative reality in which you think “oh yes I would have said that”.  Don’t fall into the revision trap of thinking past papers by themselves are the answer.

4) Revision is not about how many hours:  it is about how much you have learned, understood, remembered from the time you spend.  If you do the calculations we talked about in school, I think during the holiday you will have at most 10 hours in total for Biology. Use this time wisely.

Finally a few general tips about organising your revision.  My experience with many years of Y11 boys over too many years is that you will be much more productive if you get up in the mornings.  Ask your Mum for help with this:  tell her she can be really useful to you by ensuring you get up before 8am every day!  Divide the day into three two and a quarter hour slots.  Always work in the morning slot and then choose one of the two others each day.

Morning:  9.30am – 11.45am

Afternoon:  1.30pm – 3.45pm

Evening:  5pm – 7.15pm (timing can vary depending on when you eat supper)

And finally do the sensible things you all know but can sometimes get over-looked:  sleep 8/9 hours every night but no more , eat a proper breakfast, drink plenty of water through the day and use fresh fruit as a treat… I know you all can do really well in the summer exams – there are no excuses on offer here.  Work hard, enjoy the challenge and step up to it and you will be well rewarded in August.



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