Preparing for the Cambridge IGCSE Biology exam

Biology exams

How is the paper structured?


The Cambridge IGCSE Biology paper can be primarily divided into two main segments. The practical paper and the written/theory paper. The practical assessment is an important component of the IGCSE Biology course, as it allows students to develop their practical skills, including experimental design, data analysis, and scientific communication. The practical assessment is conducted separately from the written examination and can be taken at any time during the course. If the practical paper isn’t preferred by the student, an alternative to the practical paper can be taken as the preferred assessment. Regardless of how it is scored, the practical assessment carries 30% of the total score, leaving the remaining 70% to be determined by the written examinations for Papers 1 and 2.


Which areas are frequently tested?


There are a variety of topics covered in the Cambridge IGCSE Biology exam. However, based on previous exams, some areas are more important or frequently tested than others. Listed here are some of the most important and frequently tested areas in the Cambridge IGCSE Biology exam:

  • Cell Biology – This topic includes topics such as cell structure, cell function, cell cycles, cellular metabolism, cell signaling, cell membranes, diffusion and osmosis, and mitosis and meiosis.
  • Genetics – This topic covers evolution, RNA, DNA, genetic engineering and genetic disorders.
  • Biochemistry – This includes topics such as metabolism, neurochemistry, enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.
  • Ecology – This includes topics such as biodiversity, ecosystems, food chains and webs, and population dynamics.
  • Human anatomy and physiology: This encompasses topics such as the digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system, and nervous system.
  • Plant biology: This covers the topics of photosynthesis, respiration, plant structure, and plant responses to the environment.

It is important to take into account that while these areas are frequently tested, students should however ensure they have a strong understanding of all topics covered in the syllabus to perform well on the exam.


Last-minute study tips!


So you’ve got your Cambridge IGCSE Biology exam coming up, and you feel stressed out? Here are some study tips to help you prepare and feel confident on the day of the exam. 


  1. Focus on the big picture – Instead of trying to memorize every little detail, try to understand the broader concepts and themes of the subject. This will give you ease in answering questions even though you might not remember every single fact.
  2. Understand and study the syllabus – The syllabus provides a clear outline of all the topics that will be covered in the exam. This can help you shift your focus on topics that need more work and practice, ensuring thorough overall knowledge.
  3.  Practice past papers – Practicing past papers allows you to assess yourself, identify weak areas, and help you become more familiar with the format, question style, and layout. It also helps reduce anxiety and leads to improved performance.
  4. Use flashcards – Flashcards are an excellent and efficient way to review key terms, definitions, and concepts. They make memorizing definitions much less complex and easy to remember. Understanding the language of the subject will help you understand the concepts better. Ensure you write down the most important information on each flashcard and quiz yourself regularly.
  5. Make summaries – Create condensed summaries of each topic highlighting important information. This can help you focus and review on the main concepts and key points in the specified topic.
  6. Use visual aids –  Visual aids can make studying more engaging and interesting. Visual aids such as diagrams, mind maps, and flowcharts simplify complex information and make it easier to understand. They also increase retention and recall of information compared to texts alone.
  7. Seek help if needed – If you seem to be struggling with a particular topic or multiple topics, don’t hesitate to reach out to a tutor for help. We at Tutopiya provide help in all IGCSE subjects including Biology and cater to your needs, ensuring you are well-prepared before you sit for the exam. 
  8. Understand the making scheme – Practicing past papers along with the marking scheme helps students understand what is required of an answer and how they are assessed. This provides an opportunity for students to learn how to maximize their scores.
  9. Develop exam-taking skills – In addition to understanding the material, it is important to develop good exam-taking skills, such as time management and reading comprehension. Practice these skills by taking timed practice tests and reading and answering questions carefully.
  10. Take care of yourself –  Prioritizing your health is key to a better performance in your examination. Ensure you get enough sleep and are well rested, have your meals on time, and take breaks when needed. This will help you refresh and recharge your mind.


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) :

  • How is the exam graded?

The exam is graded on a scale of A* to G, with A* being the highest grade. The grade is calculated based on the total marks obtained in the written papers (Paper 1 and Paper 2) and the practical assessment.


  • When is the Cambridge IGCSE Biology exam offered?

The exam is offered in May/June and October/November series. Students can choose to take the exam in either series, depending on their preference and availability.


  • Can I use a calculator for the exam?

Yes, a scientific calculator is allowed in the exam. It is important to read and follow the instructions provided by the exam board regarding the use of calculators.

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