IGCSE Biology Exam Preparation

Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Examination) Biology emphasizes Human Biology, helps students to understand the technological world, and gives them an informed interest in Science and scientific developments.

Topics for IGSCE Biology include Classification of Living Organisms, Cells, Enzymes, Nutrition, Transport Systems in Plants and Animals, Excretion, Respiration, Coordination and Response, Homeostasis, Genetics and Evolution, Human Influences on the Ecosystem, and others. Major emphasis is on the study of Human Body and the Organ Systems.

Students also learn how human activities are causing a threat to nature. They are exposed to processes such as Photosynthesis and Transport Systems in Plants.

Tips on how to prepare for your upcoming exam!

These tips are based on some common mistakes made by students. They are collected under
various subheadings to help you when you prepare for your examinations.

Make sure you read all the general tips. These can be important in any of the papers you do.
Make sure you know which examination papers you are taking before you look at the tips for the
different papers

All of you will take paper 1, which is all multiple choice questions.

You may be taking paper 2, which is Foundation OR you may be taking paper 3, which is

You may be taking paper 5, which is a practical examination in a laboratory OR you may be
taking paper 6 which is a written paper about practical work.

Key points to learning biology terms

Terms are the names used in biology. These will be used in questions. You will get
more marks if you can use them correctly in you examination. Ask your teacher if you are
unsure of the different meanings between biological terms.

Try to use the correct spelling. The person marking your answer will try to recognise what
word you mean, but if the spelling is wrong, then they cannot allow you a mark.

Some biological terms have very similar spelling. One example is “ureter”, urethra” and
“uterus”. If your mis-spelling is “uretus”, it could be “ureters” or “uterus”. Other common
examples are ovum, ova, ovary and ovule, testes and testa; sucrose and sucrase.


Do not try to mix the spellings of two words when you are not sure which of them is the
correct answer, e.g. meitosis, when you are not sure whether the answer is mitosis or
meiosis, or urether, when you are not sure if the answer is ureter or urethra.

You need to check carefully that you have used the right word when similar terms are used
in the same topic , e.g. urea and urine, ureter and urethra., semen and sperm

Writing in your own words. You sometimes have to write two or more sentences to answer a

Use short sentences. If you write long sentences you can get mixed up. It is hard to find
correct statements in a muddled answer.

You are often asked to write down something you have learned. Make sure you have learnt
the meanings of the common terms used in biology, e.g. photosynthesis, osmosis,

You also need be able to write down the meaning of more complicated ideas, e.g. level of
organisation, natural selection, global warming, eutrophication.

Recommended online sites and textbooks to help you prepare better

Cambridge Assessment

GCE Compilation 

RNIB Bookshare 

How to answer the exam paper

There are a few factors to understanding an IGCSE Biology Paper:

1) The number of marks.

• In multiple choice questions there is only one mark for a correct answer.

• Other sorts of question show how many marks at the end of each part like this [2]. The number
of marks helps you decide how much to write.
• The number of marks is a guide to how long to spend on each question or parts of a question.

If you allow about 1 minute per mark then you should finish in time to check your answers.

• Do not waste time and write long answer for a question which has [1]. You will only get one
mark even if the rest of the answer has correct statements.

• If there are two or more marks do not write the same thing in two different ways, e.g. The leaf is
very large. The leaf has a large surface area.

2) The instructions.
These are called command words and tell you what to do.

• If a question says “Show your working” when you have to do a calculation, then write down the
stages of your calculation to show how you got your answer. Even if you get the final answer
wrong, you may be given a mark for knowing what to do.

• If a question asks you to “Name” or “State” two things only the first two will be marked. Use the
numbered lines for your answers if they on the question paper. If you write more than two and
the first is correct but the second one is wrong, you will only get the mark for the first one. Even
if the third answer is correct, it will not be marked.

• Some questions have two commands in the question, for example “Predict” AND “Explain” ….”
This means you have to say what you think will happen AND then say why you think it will

3) What the question is about.
Make sure you know which part of your biology is being tested.

• Read the whole of a question carefully before you begin to answer it. Some of the parts have
similar answers so you need to work out the difference between them. If you write exactly the
same thing in different parts of the same question, then only one of them might be a correct

• It helps to highlight the main features of a question. e.g. “Name the tissue that transports the sugars made by photosynthesis to other parts of the

• This tells you that you want a one word answer, about plant transport of sugars.

• Do not be put off the question is about something you have not studied. There will be enough
information in the question for you to work out an answer.
• Look carefully at any diagrams, graphs or tables and make sure you understand what they are
about. You may have to use information from them to answer the questions.

• Answer each question as far as you can. Do not spend a long time staring at a question
• If you have forgotten something, go on to the next question or part of a question. Come back
to the ones you found difficult when you have finished all of the paper.

• Try not to leave blanks. When you come back to a question you often remember an answer
you left out.

• Do not waste time by writing about things unrelated to the question

Students develop an informed interest in the subject when they learn with expert IGCSE Biology online tutors from Tutopiya. As they progress, students understand how Science is studied and practiced, recognize the usefulness and limitations of the scientific method, and develop an interest in, and care for, the environment. They also widen the knowledge and scientific skills which are crucial for further study at Cambridge International A Level.

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