How to pass Biology GCSE

by Anita Naik

GCSE Biology is a single science GCSE that incorporates the study of living organisms and their structure, life cycles, adaptations and environment. It is part of the Triple Award Science (also known as 'Separate Sciences' or 'Single Sciences'), where pupils study all three sciences and end up with three GCSEs. If you're considering Biology GCSE or starting it in September, here's what you need to know to pass the subject.

Though Biology GCSE topics differ from exam board to exam board in general, the main areas you will be studying are:

Cell biology

Infection and response


Development of medicine




Plant Structures

Practical skills

Biology GCSE is knowledge-heavy, so it pays to start as you mean to go on when studying it.

Take good notes

If you practice taking good notes from the start of year 10, it will make revision much more straightforward. Good notes are not only clear but make sense to you. So, use abbreviations as long as you understand them, colour code if that's easier and keep notes clear with headings and critical facts. A sign you are taking clear notes is reading them post-class and understanding what's been taught.

Review, review, review

If you want to make revision more manageable, it pays to review your work daily, weekly, or after every topic, you study. Known as spaced repetition, this is a method of reviewing materials at frequent intervals to help with knowledge retention and revision. It works well and is well worth factoring into your study schedule.

Ask plenty of questions

Biology can be a hard subject to learn if you don't ask questions. Make sure you ask questions in class as much as possible, as this is key to understanding the subject areas. Don't worry about sounding stupid or asking the same question twice, asking for clarification not only benefits your knowledge retention but will also help with revision at a later stage.

Use a host of revision techniques

Besides reading your notes, the best way to revise for Biology is through various techniques. Flashcards, working with a small peer study group and quizzing yourself with Quizlet. Past papers are also vital, as is looking at the examiner's report for the last Biology GCSE paper taken (2019). Quizlet also has some excellent biology revision sets linked to exam specifications.

Look at YouTube for explanations

YouTube has some excellent biology channels that are well worth looking into. Search for topics such as DNA Structure and Function or Ecology and you'll find a wealth of videos explaining everything you need to know. Also worth watching are Amoeba Sistersthese are fun short and concise videos. Check out their biology playlist which includes all of their life science videos.

Fine-tune your practical skills

Scientific investigations have several stages - planning, collecting data, and analysing data. So, it is crucial to understand how to carry out each step of the inquiry for your exams. This means knowing everything from formulas to how to read and evaluate the data and the key scientific terminology. Remember, in your exams, you could be asked questions about the apparatus, methods, results, and analysis, so be sure to revise all areas, including the practical lessons you have done in class.

Work with a Biology Tutor

A biology tutor can help you in a number of ways. Firstly in explaining what topics need to be covered and the depth, they need to be covered in. Secondly with knowledge gaps and understanding and thirdly with what's expected from you in your biology exam and how to make sure your revision is up to scratch,

Also, look at our posts on How to build your GCSE science skills, GCSE double science and triple science award explained and Revision tips for A-Level Biology.