Anyone looking for the top grades in GCSE Biology knows that there are several different types of questions you need to tackle in order to get the top marks. In this article, we’re going to cover the most common types of questions that you’ll encounter in your exams as well as how to structure your answer to get the best grade possible!
1. Multiple choice questions
These are perhaps the easiest questions to answer in an exam because they’re quick and you have a chance of getting it right even if you don’t have a clue. The best way to tackle these questions is to automatically eliminate any answers you know are wrong and then focus on the others than you think may be right. It may be wise to limit the time that you spend on these questions to a couple of minutes at most as they will likely only be worth one mark so it is pointless spending a lot of time on them. If you truly have no idea, choose an option at random then mark the question in some way and come back to it at the end.
2. Short answer questions
These questions are usually easy, providing you have taken the time to learn the details of the content. Usually these questions will require limited explanation and mainly focus on stating facts or describing a concept. Like the multiple choice questions, it is best that you don’t spend too much time on these questions so the best tactic is to answer them if you can and if not mark and move on.
The best way to practice these is by doing a few short answer questions once you have finished a topic in order to consolidate your knowledge. You could do this by looking in your textbook, revision guide, using the questions from our videos or even making up your own! This helps you to practice your exam technique and also look at how the information you’ve learnt may be asked for in an exam context.
3. Maths questions
Despite the fact that very few areas of biology are purely mathematical, you will always have some sort of calculation to do in your exam. This could be in the form of finding the magnification of something, calculating a percentage or just basic averages. The key to doing well on these questions is following a method and making it clear what you are working out with each step. This allows you to at least gain partial marks, even if you get the final answer wrong.
Before you practice these questions, it is a good idea to have an example method and answer that you can refer to if you get stuck. Carry out the calculation as explained by the guide you’re using and write out how are you completing each step beside it. Once you have done this, you can use it as a reference when answering practice exam questions until you have memorised the technique.
4. Long answer questions
These are the questions that people struggle with most in exams as there is often a set structure you need to follow in order to gain the top marks. This means that the exam technique can often be just as important as the information you include in your answer. The first thing to do when attempting these questions is to look at the mark scheme and see where you gain the marks in terms of number of points required and type of explanation needed for the marks. It can also be good to construct a ‘perfect’ answer either by using the mark scheme, an example written by your teacher or the answers to our SnapRevise questions. Like with the maths questions, this gives you a guide to follow whilst you get used to the techniques required.
Once you start doing practice questions you should always try and mark them yourself at first so that you know where you went wrong. After you’ve done this, you may want a teacher to go over it again to ensure that you didn’t miss anything and explain anything that you still don’t understand. Practice is key with these questions so that you get used to using the right method and completing it in the timeframe of the exam.
Hopefully these tips were useful and will help you tackle even the toughest of exam questions! When aiming for the top marks, it isn’t enough to just know the information, you also need to know how to apply it to any question that the exam throws at you!