I hope readers of my blog felt that the Biology paper 1B went well earlier this week. For what it is worth, I thought it was a good but challenging paper but there is nothing at all on there that seemed unfair to me. I am confident that it gave students a good chance to show the understanding and knowledge you have built up over three years. But….. you still have 33% of your marks still available to you, so my thoughts have now turned to paper 2B in a few weeks time.
I have been through the paper 1B carefully to look at which subject areas have been tested in the questions. This might allow you to focus your revision now onto topic areas that have not yet come up. But the next point is very important: there is absolutely nothing that says they cannot ask questions on the some of the same topics inboth papers. Predicting exam questions is a dangerous game (!?!) and there is absolutely nothing in this blog post that should contradict the idea that you need to be fully clued up and ready for questions on every single specification point when you sit your paper 2B.
But there are some things we know about what is likely to appear in the paper 2B.
- Firstly there are some specification points in bold that cannot be assessed in paper 1 and can only appear in paper 2. I have a blog post that lists these so I won’t type them all out again. Have a look here to see a full list of the bullet points in bold….
- Listed below are some topic areas that were not tested at all in the summer 2018 paper 1B. I would anticipate that several of these will definitely appear in paper 2B so if I were in your position, these would be my top priorities for revision in the coming weeks:
Variety of Living organisms and 5 Kingdom Classification 1.2
Movement of substances into and out of cells – Diffusion, Osmosis and Active Transport 2.12, 2.13, 2.14, 2.15, 2.16
Transport in Plants – Xylem and Phloem 2.51, 2.52, 2.53, 2.54, 2.55. 2.56
Heart Structure and Circulatory Systems 2.63, 2.64, 2.65, 2.66
Human Nervous Systems 2.83, 2.84, 2.85, 2.86,
The Eye 2.87, 2.88, 2.89,
Reproduction in Flowering Plants 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7
Reproduction in Humans 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, 3.12
DNA and Genetics – this must come up!! 3.13, 3.14, 3.15, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 3.19, 3.20, 3.21, 3.22
Ecology – Food chains and Webs, quadrats etc. 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7
Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles 4.8, 4.9, 4.10
Selective Breeding 5.10, 5.11
Genetic Modification 5.12, 5.13, 5.14, 5.15, 5.16
Cloning 5.17, 5.18, 5.19, 5.20
The focus of your revision now should be looking at past papers and mark schemes. I know many of you have done this already for paper 1B.
If you want more past papers and mark schemes, I suggest you download them for free from this website: http://www.physicsandmathstutor.com/past-papers/gcse-biology/edexcel-igcse-paper-2/
Please remember there are posts on my website for every single specification point above. Just type in the specification code in the search box and it should (?!) take you straight to the relevant page. Please do ask me questions or leave comments at the bottom of any posts. It may take a while for them to be visible as I have to “approve” them to remove spam. You would be amazed at some of the stuff I seem to attract from the depths of the internet…..
Keep working hard and good luck!
This post starts with a massive proviso of course. Making predictions as to which topics might appear in a future exam is a very risky business. The paper 2 you will all sit after half term can test material from the entire specification (including all the specification points in bold) and there is absolutely no guarantee that topics tested in paper 1 may not reappear in some form in paper 2.
So the proviso is this: the only way to be fully prepared for paper 2 is to revise the entire specification so that you are prepared for whatever the examiners might throw at you.
But having said that, it seems sensible to focus your revision for paper 2 onto topic areas that were not examined in paper 1. If I were in your position, these are the topic areas for which I would be doing most of my revision in the coming weeks:
- Respiration 2.33 – 2.37
- Gas exchange in Plants 2.38-2.43
- Transport in Plants 2.49 – 2.56
- Transport in Humans 2.57 – 2.66
- Kidney 2.68 – 2.76
- Reproduction 3.1 – 3.12
- Food Chains and Energy Flow 4.4 – 4.7
- Nitrogen and Water Cycles 4.8, 4.10
- Human Influences on Environment 4.11 – 4.17
- Food Production (including fish farming) 5.1 – 5.9
- Selective Breeding and Genetic Modification 5.10 – 5.16
The bad news is that this list above still forms a large proportion of the extensive EdExcel IGCSE Biology specification but the good news is that there are PMGBiology blog posts on all the above. So please use the search function on my homepage to find material to help you revise.
Practice papers and mark schemes are available online (and for my students on the school Firefly page)
Keep working hard – you are almost there and the summer to come will be long and restful….
Clearly there is a lot of last minute cramming going on before IGCSE Biology paper 2 tomorrow….
That is absolutely fine but please remember you also need a good night’s sleep so your head is clear. Knowledge is only a part of the skills required tomorrow in the exam and at least as big a part will be played by your ability to read the question, to think clearly, to recall good answers and to show your understanding clearly on the page. All of these will benefit if you get a good night’s sleep tonight!
Take your time to read the question carefully and before you start writing any response, take a moment to think “what are the key scientific terms I need to use to show my understanding?” So many marks are lost by waffling on without actually stating the key idea!
I am always very wary of trying to “second guess” IGCSE examiners and predict what questions might come up as it can be a risky business. But as all the Y11 students out there start a well-earned half term, I thought I would put up a short post with some suggestions as to areas of the specification that have not yet been tested.
Important Disclaimer: Remember that the examiners can set questions on the entire specification in paper 2 (including all the bullet points in bold). It seems more likely to me that the questions will be on areas of the specification not yet tested in paper 1 but you cannot guarantee it. So please make sure you revise the entire specification and are as prepared as you can for any questions that might come up.
Topics not yet assessed on 2016 paper 1
- Viruses 1.2
- Enzymes and Biological Molecules 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 2.10. 2.11
- Movement across Membranes (Diffusion and Osmosis) 2.12, 2.13, 2.14, 2.15, 2.16
- Photosynthesis 2.17, 2.18, 2.19. 2.20. 2.21, 2.22
- Breathing 2.44, 2.45, 2.46, 2.47, 2.48
- Respiration 2.32, 2.33, 2.34, 2.35, 2.36
- Kidney and Excretion 2.68, 2.69, 2.70, 2.71, 2.72, 2.73, 2.74, 2.75, 2.76
- Plant Responses 2.80, 2.81, 2.82
- Reproduction in Plants 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7
- Water/Carbon/Nitrogen Cycles 4.8, 4.9, 4.10
- Food Production (crops) 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4
- Food Production (microorganisms) 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8
- Fish Farming 5.9
- Genetic Modification 5.12, 5.13, 5.14, 5.15, 5.16
Remember that there are posts on almost all these topics on the blog so use the search function on the Home page and just type in the syllabus code.
Finally, keep working hard. It is easy to get too comfortable about your exams now that many have already been sat. A little bit of fear is still a good thing, so remember that 33% of your GCSE marks are still up for grabs and this paper 2 will make all the difference in determining your final grade. No short cuts now, keep being organised, methodical and diligent. The summer holiday will give you plenty of opportunities to socialise, have fun and relax so try to keep the momentum up in this coming week. Good luck!
Any questions, please ask by leaving a comment on this blog post.
The other thing to focus your revision on for paper 2 are the small number of points (in bold in the specification) that could only be tested in paper 2.
IGCSE Biology specification – bullet points in Bold
- 2.10 understand how the functioning of enzymes can be affected by changes in active site caused by changes in pH
- 2.14 understand the importance in plants of turgid cells as a means of support
- 2.23 understand that a balanced diet should include appropriate proportions of carbohydrate, protein, lipid, vitamins, minerals, water and dietary fibre
- 2.25 understand that energy requirements vary with activity levels, age and pregnancy
- 2.32 describe an experiment to investigate the energy content in a food sample.
- 2.37 describe experiments to investigate the evolution of carbon dioxide and heat from respiring seeds or other suitable living organisms.
- 2.40 understand that respiration continues during the day and night, but that the net exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen depends on the intensity of light
- 2.43 describe experiments to investigate the effect of light on net gas exchange from a leaf, using hydrogen-carbonate indicator
- 2.51 describe the role of phloem in transporting sucrose and amino acids between the leaves and other parts of the plant
- 2.61 understand that vaccination results in the manufacture of memory cells, which enable future antibody production to the pathogen to occur sooner, faster and in greater quantity
- 2.62 understand that platelets are involved in blood clotting, which prevents blood loss and the entry of micro-organisms
- 2.88 understand the function of the eye in focusing near and distant objects, and in responding to changes in light intensity
- 2.89 describe the role of the skin in temperature regulation, with reference to sweating, vasoconstriction and vasodilation
- 3.5 understand the conditions needed for seed germination
- 3.6 understand how germinating seeds utilise food reserves until the seedling can carry out photosynthesis
- 3.10 describe the role of the placenta in the nutrition of the developing embryo
- 3.11 understand how the developing embryo is protected by amniotic fluid
- understand the meaning of the term codominance
- 3.33 understand that the incidence of mutations can be increased by exposure to ionising radiation (for example gamma rays, X-rays and ultraviolet rays) and some chemical mutagens (for example chemicals in tobacco).
- 4.8 describe the stages in the water cycle, including evaporation, transpiration, condensation and precipitation
- 4.10 describe the stages in the nitrogen cycle, including the roles of nitrogen fixing bacteria, decomposers, nitrifying bacteria and denitrifying bacteria (specific names of bacteria are not required).
- 4.15 understand the biological consequences of pollution of water by sewage, including increases in the number of micro-organisms causing depletion of oxygen
- 5.7 understand the role of bacteria (Lactobacillus) in the production of yoghurt
- 5.8 interpret and label a diagram of an industrial fermenter and explain the need to provide suitable conditions in the fermenter, including aseptic precautions, nutrients, optimum temperature and pH, oxygenation and agitation, for the growth of micro-organisms
- 5.16 understand that the term ‘transgenic’ means the transfer of genetic material from one species to a different species.
- 5.20 evaluate the potential for using cloned transgenic animals, for example to produce commercial quantities of human antibodies or organs for transplantation.
Trying to guess what might come up in paper 2 of public exams is a dangerous business…… But I think it is sensible for Y11 students sitting IGCSE Biology to now focus their remaining revision on topics that have yet to be tested. You are now two thirds of the way through your exams and a final push to paper 2 might just get you across the A-A* boundary. Every mark is vital in any exam so keep working hard!
Here are some PMG tips for topic areas that seem a better than average bet for coming up in paper 2:
- Variety of Living Organisms (5 Kingdom Classification, Viruses)
- Biological Molecules, especially Enzymes – (graph interpretation question?, effect of temperature and pH on rates of reaction?)
- Photosynthesis and Respiration (perhaps a question testing bullet points 2.40 and 2.43 on gas exchange in plants over 24 hour period?)
- Role of White Blood cells in Immunity (perhaps linked in with viruses above, vaccination, memory cells etc.?)
- Coordination in Humans (nerves, reflex arcs, the eye, homeostasis in the skin, hormones)
- Reproduction in Flowering Plants (asexual mechanisms plus insect/wind pollination)
- DNA structure (including mutations), Chromosomes and Cell Division
- Carbon, Nitrogen and Water Cycles
- Pollution (atmospheric, water pollution and climate change)
- Fish Farming (surely they can’t leave this out?…..)
I will post some blog entries on some or all of these topics in the week or two after half term so keep your eyes posted on Twitter or follow this blog.
I am not suggesting that these are the only topics you revise in preparation for paper 2. That would be very foolish as the examiners can ask questions on anything at all. I am merely suggesting that you focus your remaining revision time on the topics most likely to come up and the list above might help you to decide what best to do.
Good luck and keep working hard! Not long to go now……