Review of Biology Higher Level paper by Mona Murray, Biology teacher at The Institute of Education.
The questions asked were very precise and required a clear, accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the biology syllabus. The paper was quite deceptive. At first glance it looked quite easy, but on closer examination, every question, because it was divided in to so many parts, had tricky parts to it.
very corner of the syllabus was examined, with some of the questions focusing on what would be considered to be minor parts of the course. There were surprises in every question. This is a feature of the paper in recent years, which makes it unpredictable. There was a huge focus on Ecology this year, with a question in each of the three sections.
Question 1: This tested students understanding of various, related terms. A format not used since the old syllabus. This could have caused some confusion and would require a good knowledge of the biology course.
Question 2: Familiar layout to last year. This was straightforward and there was nothing unusual here. The language was clear and unambiguous.
Question 3: This was a good question. Again this graph was taken from the old syllabus; Students were asked to apply their knowledge to the information on the graph.
Question 4: The diagram was nice and clear (an improvement on previous year’s diagrams) and there was nothing unexpected here.
Question 6: There was an in-depth question on DNA and RNA. Again students would have required a clear understanding of the topic.
Section B (Answer two out of three):
Question 1: Ecology- very straightforward. Very nice.
Question 8: Enzymes: The graph that students were required to draw may have presented a problem to some students as a graph is not usually presented in this section.
Question 9: This question would have been challenging for the average student.
Optional Question: (4 out of 6)
Question 10: Hormones. This was a very nice, straight forward question. Nothing unexpected.
Question 11: Genetics and the cell cycle. Students will be disappointed by the lack of a genetic cross to work out. Other than that there is nothing that should upset them here.
Question 12: Viruses, bacteria and Immunity: The first part of the question was tricky and was presented in a difficult way. The last question in this section was also a bit ambiguous.
Question 13: Human Reproduction: A nice, clear question.
Question 14: This would have been familiar to students and would not have presented too much difficulty.
Question 15: Ecology question about birds using cigarette butts to decorate their nests. This was a challenging question.