If you want to get an A* in IGCSE Biology (0610), you will love these tips I am about to share with you. In fact, I used this exact strategy to ace all my Biology exams.
But before moving into the tips, remember one thing. This is that you should focus on studying smarter rather than studying harder (it will save you a lot of time and energy).
So, let’s dive into these step-by-step instructions without further introductions.
Tips to get an A* in IGCSE Biology
Study your syllabus:
Wouldn’t it be great if you would know what exactly to learn? Thanks to the syllabus for this.
A syllabus is a tool that helps you to find out what exactly you should expect in your exams. It talks about the concepts and topics on which you will be judged during your exams.
In fact, if you have a firm grip on the syllabus, there are good chances that you will be able to solve the majority of questions (with ease).
This is because before going for your exam, you would learn all those concepts that are required. This will not only save you a lot of time, but it will also make sure that you study only relevant stuff.
So if you are a student who wants to secure an A* in IGCSE Biology and GCE O level Biology (5090), you have to read your syllabus (at least twice).
So here is what exactly you have to do.
- After reading this article, hop on to Google.
- Search this keyword: “IGCSE Biology Syllabus“.
- Go to the official Cambridge website (and access the syllabus for your respected year).
Note: Let’s suppose that it is currently 2021. But, you have to appear for your Cambridge exams in 2022. Then, go for the syllabus for 2022 (instead of 2021).
When you are done reading the syllabus, you will accomplish the following goals:
- This will help you in course planning. You will have a clear vision of what to prepare.
- You will study only relevant material for your complete syllabus coverage.
When you know what exactly to study, it is time to move on to the next tip which is to prepare all the key concepts.
Have a grip on the key concepts:
Do you want to know how exactly to find all the key concepts for Biology?
I will walk you through the step-by-step process to find them. But for now, let me tell you what “key concepts” are.
Key concepts are the important concepts and ideas that you should know to understand a topic. In simple words, this is the (important) information that you should know.
In fact, every topic has its own key concepts.
But, how do you find them? Here is the complete procedure.
- Firstly, contact your experienced Biology teacher (or your friend who is good at this subject).
- Then, ask them about the topics they think are the most important.
- Dig deeper and try to find out the most important concepts (you may use social media in this regard).
If this sounds vague to you, do not worry (I will explain).
Think about this. Your teachers have been teaching the subject for years. They know which topics appear the most in the exams. Therefore, try to get as much knowledge as you can.
So, make a list of the topics your teacher advises you to prepare the best.
When you are done consulting (and making the list), go back to your syllabus. Now, compare these key concepts with your syllabus outcomes. With this, you would now (at least) be familiar with some of the important things you should know.
Now, you may read that respected topic from your book or use notes from the internet. In fact, I have done this hectic work of preparing notes on (almost) all topics for Biology. Some of the useful resources are listed below so that you can see our work.
Now you might be wondering, why I asked you to do this. Wouldn’t reading everything from the book be the best choice to ace my Biology exam?
The truth is that the book should be your first priority. However, there are a lot of things in your book that is not required by Cambridge. So just to save you some time for revision, I recommend this strategy.
And of course, these strategies will work the best if you want a step-by-step guide for proper revision. So if you are comfortable with reading the book (and you have plenty of time), do give your book a read. Then, (bookmark this article) come back later and follow these strategies.
With this, it is time to move on to the next tip, which is to properly solve past papers.
Solve Past Papers (the correct way):
Don’t get me wrong over here. Everyone solves past papers (if they are serious about getting a good grade). In fact, roughly 30% of the students solve past papers the wrong way.
This is because students are advised to solve as many past papers as they can (but they are not told the correct method). But do not worry, I will help you fix this.
Now tell me one thing. Why do we solve past papers?
We solve past papers to find out what sort of questions are appearing in the exams. Moreover, we try to find out what topics are most frequently appearing over the years.
But most importantly, we solve past papers to improve our concepts (and learn about the nature of questions). To achieve all these goals, you have to do the following.
First of all, remember that quality is more important than quantity (when it comes to past papers). This is because the better you understand the question, the better you will attempt it.
Now, what is the correct method of solving past papers?
When you are doing past papers, take note of all the topics you are unable to solve. For the best results, note down every single mistake you are making.
When you are done solving the paper, consult your book and notes to improve your understanding of the topic. Finally, take a look at all those mistakes (again) before solving the next paper.
Trust me, if you do this, your productivity will increase by roughly 2x.
And one more very important addition to this tip, use marking schemes.
Marking schemes show what exactly the examiner demanded a particular question. So when you read them after writing your answer, you will find out what your answer is lacking.
Trust me, this practice will show its positive effects during your exam. This is because, when you will solve a question, you will remember what the examiner wanted in a similar question you attempted (during your past paper session).
Use Examiner Report:
If you want to “talk to the examiner”, this tip is for you.
To be honest, if you use this tip properly, you will guarantee yourself an A*, and who knows, even a distinction?
But before that, here is a brief (and very simple) introduction to the examiner reports.
Examiner report is a document that Cambridge publishes with the past papers. This document gives general feedback about the exam. This document is written by the examiner after marking and grading the exams.
Moreover, it goes even a step ahead and talks about (almost) all the questions individually (along with how the students attempted the question?). So here is what you have to do.
When you are done solving a past paper (and checking it with the mark scheme), open the examiner report for that paper. Then read the examiner’s comment on the marking process, common student mistakes and how to prevent them.
If you do this, your question attempting strategy will improve by 2x. This is because these reports tell you the exact process of attempting a question.
Now, let me show you how to use these examiner reports? Below is a extract from a examiner report:
“Some candidates realised that not all plant cells contain chloroplast. The location of enzyme production (in the digestive system) and the site of progesterone production were not well known.”
Now after reading this report, you should have used your book or notes to find out about the production of enzymes and progesterone. This was just an example.
The takeaway from this is that do not only read this document. But try to understand it and learn new concepts. With this, it is to move on to the next tip which is to stay calm and motivated.
(Try to) Stay Calm and Motivated:
This is the most important tip I can possibly give to someone.
It is sad that how many well-prepared students do not achieve their desired grade only because they panicked at the last moment. You should not be one of them.
I know that nervousness is very common during this stage. But, you have to try to stay as calm as possible. Let me tell you how.
The main reason why students panic before an exam is because they are scared of the consequences. This means that they have a fear of disappointing their family and teachers (or even themselves).
To counter this feeling, just give yourself 10 minutes before going for an exam. Then, talk to yourself. Tell yourself that how much effort you made to succeed in this exam (and there is nothing more you can do). This will boost your confidence.
Below are some other tips that may help you stay calm during before and during your exam.
- Revise only those concepts (at the last minute) which you have a firm grip on. This will increase your confidence, and your mind will think that your preparation for the paper is good.
- When making your notes, try to add heading and sub-headings. Try to go through them when you are short of time.
- Take a healthy meal before you go for an exam (you cannot manage to be short of energy).
- If you want to tackle the tricky questions, you have to sleep well. Studies show that students who sleep well perform better than those who do not sleep (before an exam).
This is because sleeping will ensure that your mind is ready to face new and challenging questions. On the other hand, a student who prefers studying overnight to sleep may not be in a condition to handle tricky questions.
- If you are unable to solve a question, come back to it later. Then, read it at least twice (to grab the concept of the question). Take a deep breath and think about the topic calmly. I bet you will find a way out.
Let me ask you a question over here. Who do you think would perform better in an exam? A student who has good preparation but he is panicking. Or the one who is relatively less prepared but is much more confident?
According to my knowledge, the performance of the one with less preparation will be much better. The reason being is his confidence. Therefore, if you want to ace your IGCSE or GCE O Level Biology exam, staying calm is the strategy.
Moving on to how to stay motivated before an exam. Let me share my personal strategy over here.
Before going for an exam, I always talked to my parents and asked them for their prayers. Trust me, this underrated strategy motivated me a lot.
So if you have a friend or a family member, share optimistic (positive) thoughts with each other. Moreover, prevent discussions such as “what if this topic appears which we have not prepared that well?”.
If you follow these strategies, you will be able to give the best in your exam.
Finally, here is one bonus tip from me.
Bonus Tip: Work on Time Management:
You have to finish your exam on time because you cannot expect the invigilators to (even) give you one extra minute. And to be honest, it is fair.
So what can you do to finish your exam on time?
If you have a question worth 3 marks, give three relevant points. These three points will secure you 3 marks. However, my advice to you is to give at least 4 points (so that if one gets wrong, you have another one to get full marks).
But if you try to give 6 to 7 points for that answer, you will be wasting time on that answer. Therefore, try to work accordingly (and instead of making your answer “perfect”, try to complete your paper).
Now let me tell you what I did to finish my exam on time.
A month before my paper, I practised past papers and tried to finish them on time. Initially, I exceeded the time limit. However, in my final examination, I ensured that I was done even before time.
So when you are practising past papers, keep a stopwatch with you. Trust me, it will help.
With this, the guide about securing an A* in IGCSE Biology (0610) has come to an end.
Now it is your turn.
Which strategy from this guide did you like the most? Are you going to read examiner reports, or are going to work on time management? Either way, do let me know.
To summarise, some of the strategies to ace your Biology exam are:
- Study your syllabus and format
- Have a grip on the key concepts
- Solve past papers
- Use examiner reports
- Stay calm
Thank you very much for reading and staying with me till the end. Stay tuned for more. You can access more useful study and revision material on our youtube channel.