Something that will be incredibly helpful in guiding you through what you should be revising is each exam board’s subject specification document. For example, the OCR A-Level Biology specification will list out exactly what will be taught and covered in exams, from cell biology to ecology.

When you know what subjects you are taking and what exam board you are in, it is crucial that you look up the specification document online and find the one relevant to you. This will effectively act as a checklist and a planner for what to cover when you revise, ensuring you go over everything you need to know for the exams.

This will save you huge amounts of time that you might spend making a list of all the things you need to revise. All the work is already done for you, so spend 10 minutes making sure you have every specification document you need and use these as the basis for your revision planning.

Most of these revision documents can be found as easily as Googling the exam board, the subject, the level of study and adding “specification document” into the search bar.

One thing to make sure of is that you have the most up to date version. Each document should be dated and will indicate which exams onwards it will be relevant to.

Structuring your notes around a specification point

Taking a look at the AQA A-level Biology specification, we can see the points required for a specific topic in the specification - in this instance, proteins.

Below is an example of how you might make notes based off of the highlighted specification points for AQA 3.1.4 Proteins, ensuring that you have covered everything that you would need to know for the exam for this particular topic point.

Specification Reference: General Properties of Proteins


  • Amino acids are the building blocks used to make proteins - they are monomers.

All amino acids have the same basic structure:

  • They have a central carbon (C) atom bonded to a carboxyl group (-COOH), an amino group (-NH2), a hydrogen atom (-H), and an R group (-R)
  • There are 20 naturally occurring amino acids that each have a different R group
  • Each amino acid has a different R group which can vary in size, polarity or charge. This gives every amino acid different properties