GCSE Biology

Exam Board: AQA

Why should I choose this subject?

GCSE Biology is the study of all living organisms and their interaction with each other and the world around them. It is a fabulous course that provides great preparation for Biology at A level or for anyone who is interested in the natural world in general and the living organisms that surround us. Pupils will study things that are very small (cells) and learn about how these work. They will see how the different cells within a plant or animal all work together to allow the organism to work well and learn about how organisms interact with each other and their environment. There are a huge range of practicals that we do throughout the GCSE course and these allow pupils to develop a much deeper understanding of how Biology works.

What does the subject consist of?

There are five main areas of study. Of course, there are chapters within each of these and each chapter is broken down into a number of lessons. Here are the five topics:

  1. Cells and organisation (one of 5 topics): cell structure; cell division; organisation and the digestive system; organising animals and plants (four chapters).
  2. Disease and bioenergetics: communicable diseases; preventing and treating disease; non-communicable diseases; photosynthesis; respiration.
  3. Biological responses: the human nervous system; hormonal coordination; homeostasis in action.
  4. Genetics and reproduction: reproduction; variation and evolution; genetics and evolution.
  5. Ecology: adaptations, interdependence and competition; organising and ecosystem; biodiversity and ecosystems.

How is this subject assessed?

Throughout the two years, pupils will complete at least twelve required practicals to achieve their practical endorsement. There are two externally set exams at the end of the 5th form. Each exam is a written exam of 1 hour 45 minutes. The content of the course will be assessed as well as how this content is applied. There will also be questions about the required practicals and there will be other skills assessed such as mathematical and graphical skills.

Whom does the subject suit?

Biology suits those with a natural curiosity about the world around them and anyone who has enjoyed the spectacular BBC productions of Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and others. Others choose Biology because they are passionate about conservation and want to reduce the negative impact we are having on the planet. Others are more interested in the human side and want to find out more about how our bodies work. Some prefer the tiny things, the microbes and minibeasts. This course covers all of those areas, so there is a little bit for everyone.

What else should pupils consider before choosing this subject?

Biology is a challenging course and should not be chosen as an option just because the other options in the option block don’t appeal. This is because this subject is relatively demanding and is not an easy option. A “can do” attitude is extremely important along with a good grasp of the English language and an ability to learn new terms quickly. Pupils need to be able to think in a logical manner and communicate their ideas using precise words. Having good mathematical skills is also very useful for Biology.