Exam Times – Biology

David Bourke, who has been teaching Biology at The Institute of Education for 40 years, explains the distribution of questions on the Biology paper and advises how students should approach each section…


  • Make sure not to change the numbering system in your answer from that of the question. Example: Q 14(a) (i),(ii),(iii). Do not change this to Q 14(a) (1),(2),(3).
  • Address the question asked. Irrelevant answers gain no marks and waste your time. Example: If you are asked to explain the Light Phase of photosynthesis there is no point in describing the total process of photosynthesis.
  • Adding more answers than requested in Section A. A wrong answer cancels a correct answer.
  • Using unclear lettering in genetics, e.g. AA instead of Aa or BB instead of Bb.
  • Confusing Results with Conclusions. Results are measurements and observations made during an experiment to test a hypothesis. Conclusions are deductions made from the results. Conclusions should confirm or deny the initial hypothesis


  • Answer the paper in the order it is presented, i.e. Section A first, then Section B and finally Section C.
  • Re-read Section A answers at the very end of the exam. You may find one or two silly mistakes due to anxiety at the start of the exam.
  • If you are asked for a definition of some word / idea, always give an example after your explanation.
  • Underline the items required when reading a question. Stick to these in your answer.
  • Clear handwriting always works to your advantage.
  • When answering Section C, questions quickly read over the six questions, marking those that look familiar. Now choose your best question and give it your full attention. This will give a large boost to your confidence.
  • Make plenty of use of simple, clear, labelled diagrams. It is very useful to begin an answer with a suitable diagram. You can then refer the examiner to the diagram in the course of your answer.
  • Refer to examples as often as possible, especially examples drawn from the course.
  • List key points of information on filing cards for rapid revision the night before the exam.
  • Bring your calculator with you! Have spare pens, ruler, pencil and rubber.



Heart and blood circulation

This video provides a clear, simple overview of blood circulation. Suitable for all levels. Some American terminology and pronunciations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABTvNR59K5Q

Protein synthesis: From RNA to Protein Synthesis

An animation that gives an overview from RNA to Protein synthesis. Suitable for higher level students: httpts://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJxobgkPEAo


A simple animation that explains Mitosis (cell division) with a pair of chromosomes: www.johnkyrk.com/mitosis.html


Provides a simple account of the life and times of Charles Darwin: www.aboutdarwin.com


Full Supplement Download

Published on Thursday, 6th February, this supplement focuses on Leaving Certificate Biology.

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