Preparing for the leaving cert biology exam is certainly a task that can be made easier with the correct guidance. Students often get bogged down with the sheer volume of material which the course is comprised of. In this blog I will provide a series of effective methods and insights as to how to study for leaving cert biology such that students can maximise their potential in the final exam.

Having completed the course myself, I will provide tips as to what I employed within my preparations to gain a competitive advantage and also what I would do differently if I had the opportunity to sit the exam again. Ultimately my goal is to provide a guide and instruction surrounding how to best prepare for the leaving cert biology exam.

The leaving cert biology syllabus is rather extensive with the course covering a broad range of topics in order to and give students a taste of its diverse components. The course also serves to prepare students for the variety of jobs that may stem from a degree in the subject by providing them with a comprehensive knowledge of emerging trends such as biotechnology, molecular biology, and food science.

Leaving cert biology topics range from the human anatomy to the functions of plants and the structure of cells, giving students an idea of what area they would pursue a career in after graduating from secondary level education.

Considering the size of the leaving cert biology ordinary level and higher-level courses, I recommend students begin with a simple, yet extremely effective first step to getting their preparation off on the right track.

Creating a study plan helps students incorporate their studies into their weekly routine. An effective study plan ensures that each aspect of the course is covered in the respective timeframe of the student. Personally, I have found that creating a study plan also serves to minimise stress during what is often an anxious period in the school calendar.

Timetable
Timetable, Planning your study
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Set yourself up for success!

It is important for students to be realistic in the time which they allocate to biology each week. There are other subjects which will occupy your time and it is important that some time remains for recreational activities in order to exert some of that stress.

One of the main traps which students tend to fall into is being overly optimistic in how much work they allocate to study each week. I recommend you save some time and check out some leaving cert biology tips.

Students can often get caught up cramming hours of study in order to keep up with their timetables and as a result, the quality of their work may suffer. When creating a timetable it is important to be realistic in order to ensure that the working model is sustainable, meaning that you will be able to adhere to the timetable while workloads across other subjects change throughout the year.

A carefully thought out timetable will help students not only organise their study, but it will also serve to break down the course into manageable tasks. It can certainly be quite daunting thinking about the workload that is associated with leaving cert biology, breaking each topic down into study sessions is an effective means of approaching the material, while ensuring that everything is covered within the respective timeframe.

How to study for leaving cert biology?

Now that you have your timetable in place in order manage your preparations for the leaving cert exam I will go provide some methods that will help you to use your time as efficiently as possible. I will introduce each method in order of how they should be implemented within your preparation. The first method that I recommend to students studying biology, is to simply read the chapters.

This is a rather conventional approach to studying, yet provides an overview of the information which will need to memorised for the final exam. This doesn’t need to be done from cover to cover, alternatively students may select chapters of interest and distribute them evenly throughout the study plan in order to remain engaged throughout the process.

Once you have read over the chapter I recommend taking notes on the most important learnings from the topic. Many of the textbooks will often indicate which information is of particular importance, although it is important that you supplement this with your own learnings to ensure that you do not miss out on any key pieces of information.

Regarding your leaving cert biology notes, I recommend allocating 3-4 pages to each chapter, depending on its size.

Condensing your notes to such a concise volume is often a difficult task, but it is perhaps one of the most beneficial exercises a student can do when preparing for the biology exam. The act of writing out the information helps students to memorise key pieces of information that they would have read from the previous step.

Leaving cert biology notes
Keeping concise and neat biology notes

I recommend that students take a certain element of pride in their note-taking. Using multiple colours of pen is often an effective means of highlighting different information and will improve how they look as well. It is important to use a ruler and colours when drawing diagrams, as this is what is expected in the final exam.

Keeping your notes neat will help you to condense them into a smaller space, while giving you a resource that you will rely on particularly in the months leading up to the exam.

If students find this exercise to be helpful with their studies, I usually recommend that they condense these notes further onto flashcards. This isn’t easy to do, though determining the most crucial information for each topic and summarising it onto such a small space will leave you with a valuable study resource that you can test yourself on over the weeks and even hours prior to the exam.

The next technique that I would recommend to students that are wondering how to study for the leaving cert biology exam is to pay particular focus to exam papers as a resource for your preparations. Provided you have completed the previous steps, you will have obtained a comprehensive knowledge of the course material, at this stage, it is now important to familiarise yourself with how your knowledge will be tested in an exam situation.

By working through past exam papers, students will get a sense of how the material is examined as well as which topics are likely to appear in their leaving cert biology paper.

Practicing exam papers and working through leaving cert biology solutions under exam conditions will help students achieve their potential on the day. It is equally important for students to place significant focus on familiarising themselves with both the conditions and format of the biology exam as they do learning the associated material.

Past exam papers are an effective means of applying the learnings from the previous steps and tailoring them to what is expected in an exam environment. I would recommend students to keep a separate copybook for answering exam paper questions so that it is not visible in the book and
therefore can be practiced repeatedly.

Lastly, I would recommend students to consider supplementary learning resources for a more condensed source of leaving cert biology content. Some of the more popular of these resources are the ‘Revise Wise’ and ‘Less Stress More Success’ books which are available for both higher and ordinary level biology courses. I have used both of these books personally and would certainly recommend them to students, particularly when under pressure with time towards the latter part of 6th year.

Students should also consider many of the online resources which are at their disposal, websites such as Sparknotes.com and Studyclix.ie are extremely useful for finding template solutions for many questions which frequently appear in the leaving cert biology exam.

Finding a Biology tutor with Superprof

Superprof is a community that comprises of millions of tutors around the world and has an established presence within Ireland, where there is no shortage of biology tutors for students to avail of. For students that are unsure about how to study for leaving cert biology or have difficulty in particular areas of the course, a tutor can provide some much-needed guidance and clarity to your exam preparations.

The platform offers a degree of choice and flexibility to students which is certainly beneficial in situations when time is constrained such as during the lead-up to the leaving cert exams. Students can select their tutor according to their specific needs and style of learning.

Students have the option to learn from the comfort of their own home, in the home of the tutor or on a remote basis via webcam. The lessons have an annual rate that typically ranges from €8 right up to €30 per hour, with the majority of tutors offering their first lesson free of charge.

This allows students to get a feel for the lessons before committing to any payment. Having a tutor can certainly help put your mind at ease during the build-up to an exam, working through exam solutions and coaching students through best practice examine tactics are just some of the benefits which surface with the assistance of a tutor.

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