Comment/ analysis on Biology (Higher Level) from Mona Murray, Biology teacher at The Institute of Education
A tough paper, which spanned a wide variety of topics on the syllabus and required students to have an in-depth knowledge of the course. Students would need to have known the fine details of the syllabus in order to answer all parts of the questions. The paper required very careful reading. Some of the questions were quite indirect and students were required to think outside the box. While some of the questions were straight forward and should not have posed many problems, others were far more testing.
Section A: Short Questions
There were no real surprises here. For a change, the diagrams provided were nice and clear (on the flowering plant and the yeast cell). The question on cell division would have required very careful reading.
Section B: (Experiments)
Question 7 was very challenging, as it included small parts of 4 different experiments.
Question 8 required students to apply their knowledge to an unseen situation that they would not have covered in their textbook. This was challenging.
Question 9 was a straight forward and in-depth question on digestive activity during seed germination. Very precise answering was needed here.
Section C: (Long Questions)
Question 10 on ecology, which is always a definite question in Section C, was very straight forward and students would have been happy with it.
Some students might have been surprised to be asked what NAD stands for in the first part of Question 11. The rest of the question on photosynthesis was probing, and required careful reading. The second part of the question on respiration was very straight forward.
Question 12 had a broad span to it. Beginning with definitions, moving on to excretion in plants and animals, and then concluding with a question on the regulation of body temperature in mammals.
The eye, the ear and growth regulators in plants appeared in Question 13. Students were required to draw a diagram of the human ear. Even though they were given the labels, this was a big ask, as drawing the diagram would have been very tricky. The questions on the eye were very original and students would have been required to think quite carefully before answering.
Question 14 was a straight forward question on evolution. Part B was a similarly clear question on cells and tissues. And Part C on osmosis and turgor was a nice question also.
In Question 15 a question on veins appeared. This was a surprise as veins have not appeared on their own on the paper before. It was a very testing question and required knowledge of the whole body.