Biology is one of the fascinating fields of science offered to students as part of the leaving cert program. As any with any program or service which is provided on such a colossal scale across all secondary schools in the country, there is bound to be some degree of variance in how the material is thought by the students’ teacher as a result of their preferred methods and respective style of teaching.
This one of the reasons why I advise leaving cert students to supplement their learning in class with a variety of additional sources in order to ensure that they are left with a comprehensive understanding of the course in its entirety.
The purpose of this article is to advise leaving cert students as well as those who are considering taking up the subject as to how to study for leaving cert biology and provide them with an array of supplementary recourse to aid them in their preparations and guide them for the final exam.
There are a multitude of resources available to students who wish to achieve their academic potential in the subject, surprisingly many of which students are often unaware of.
I will provide description for students about how to manage their leaving cert biology notes, how to get the most out of their school textbooks, use past exam papers, online resources and provide the importance of finding the appropriate biology in order to learn in a manner that best suits your style of learning.
Juggling seven, eight, or sometimes even nine subjects can catch up to you at times when preparing for the leaving cert exams. For this reason, I always try and convey to students the importance of working not just hard but smart. There is an abundance of resources available to students, particularly online where students consume the majority of information in today’s digital era.
I will provide the online resources which I relied on personally when completing the leaving cert course to help take some of that weight off your shoulders and help unlock your academic potential.
where should I start?
Before navigating the web searching for online resources and worked through essays, I advise students to start with the basics and build up. Think of your exam preparations like building a house, there is no point shining the windows of the house if you have not first laid the foundation or built the roof.
There is little reasoning behind students fixating on purchasing expensive resources such as revision books or grinds courses if they have not already worked through the course material beforehand. Once a student has read and worked through the respective chapter they will get much more value for these supplementary resources and courses.
Students should begin their preparations for the leaving cert biology course by working through their textbooks. I advise that students work independently as well as keeping up with the pace set by their teacher in class. First, students should read through the material, it is up to them whether they wish to go through the book cover to cover or jump between chapters which may help to keep them engaged throughout their studies.
Personally, I recommend working through the book from start to finish as it means that you are building on learnings from previous chapters and the notes that you take will be categorised by common topics.
It is important to note that this is a preliminary step that will provide students with a general understanding of the material. You shouldn’t worry if there are aspects of the chapters which you are struggling to grasp and have difficulty understanding, this is content that will be drilled in through the subsequent learning methods which I will provide throughout this article.
The textbook is perhaps the largest source of information available to students and is designed to contain every aspect of the leaving cert biology syllabus and can of course be condensed down to help students memorise its content.
What else can I try?
This brings us to the second method that I recommend for leaving cert students, notetaking. Students should dedicate an A4 hardback copy for their biology notes. Considering the sheer volume of the content contained within the leaving cert textbook for biology, this is unrealistic for students to memorise and therefore should be condensed into a more digestible size.
How concise your notes are is completely up to you, although I typically advise keeping it to 3-4 pages per chapter depending on its content. Writing out the information is certainly an effective exercise for memorising the course material, while being selective in what you decide to include in your notes also helps to differentiate between the more important pieces of information within the course.
After all, if you do happen to miss anything in your notes you will always have your textbook to refer back to if necessary.
It is important to take pride in your notes and to ensure that they are as neat and concise as possible. Trust me, you will thank yourself come exam time when you begin to use them as a valuable study resource. Your notes will come in handy particularly in the weeks building up to the leaving cert exam. You will be able to flick through your hardback copy and test yourself on the various topics which you have covered throughout the year.
Students can also create even more concise notes using flashcards, usually, 2-3 flashcards per chapter are enough to jot down the most vital information for each chapter. Flashcards can help refresh your memory and are an effective tool when studying for the leaving cert biology exam. This is a technique that I implemented within my own preparation for the exam and found to be extremely beneficial.
After implementing the prior study methods students will have established a strong grasp of the course material. At this stage, I will advise students to begin to familiarise themselves with the layout and style of the leaving cert biology exam.
Having all the information is one thing but preparing for the exam conditions which you will find yourself in June is another and therefore a focus should be placed on practicing exam-style questions. Working through past exam papers is a great way to get a sense of the specific style of questions that students can expect to be asked.
Once students are comfortable with the past exam papers, particularly the five years previous, I recommend timing yourself completing the papers so that you are comfortable with the exam conditions, this will help maximise your grade and ensure that you do not run out of time or finish too early on the day. It is important for students to understand how to study for leaving cert biology.
At leaving cert ordinary level and higher level biology you are given just 3 hours to convey to the examiner that you have knowledge of two years of the course. Therefore it is important that students the time provided in the exam hall as efficiently as possible to maximise their grade. Practicing past exam papers is perhaps the most practical way of ensuring that you are prepared for the final exam, though cannot be done without first completing the initial steps described.
what are the best online resources?
Lastly, if students wish to build on their knowledge from these core steps I recommend that they supplement their learning with some online resources which I found to be extremely beneficial when preparing for my leaving cert biology exam.
The first of these online recourses is studyclix.ie, here students can find leaving cert biology solutions to past exam papers as well as some useful summaries highlighting the key points from each chapter. In addition to this students may find value in Sparknotes, this is a website that features some supplementary resources which have been uploaded by users.
Here, students will find a range of topics related to the leaving cert biology course which they could implement within their preparations for the final exam.
Find a Biology tutor with Superprof
Evidently there is an abundance of both core and supplementary resources available to students studying biology at leaving cert level. Despite having access to this material it is still rather extensive and may prove difficult for students to navigate and fully comprehend, particularly when time is constrained in the final months of the course.
Now that you have somewhat of a roadmap for your exam preparations in the resources provided, finding a tutor to help you in your learning. A tutor can also prove to be a valuable resource for students in their exam preparations and can introduce tactics for the final exam. Superprof is a community consisting of millions of tutors all around the world.
Here, students can choose from a library of available tutors that operate in their preferred location and maximise their grade in biology.
With many tutors which list their services on the site, students have the option to arrange a trial tutoring session with their preferred tutor free of charge. This gives students the opportunity to select a tutor based on their respective preferred style of learning.
The platform also provides students with the option to work from the comfort of their own home, the home of the tutor or alternatively, on a remote basis via webcam. This degree of choice enables students to target their specific weaknesses across the leaving cert biology syllabus in. am manner that best suits them.
The platform that connects tutors and students