Despite being a highly taxing subject for some, Biology is still favored by the masses in a school like ACSI. Some see it as a foundation towards their future in more prestigious courses such as Medicine in the future while some study it out of pure passion. Whatever the case, this article will guide you through Biology as a subject in your upper secondary life and address some key concerns.
Is biology for you?
Do you find yourself reflecting long and hard about the concepts which you have learnt in your lessons? Do you enjoy gaining an in depth knowledge about the living creatures and the processes functioning to keep you alive? If so, you will find that the biology programme is certainly meant for you. With its well-tailored curriculum which succeeds in equipping prospective psychologists, dentists and doctors with the foundational knowledge required, the programme is indefinitely a demanding one. Despite being heavily content based, it also requires you to think critically about the concepts discussed and apply them. As such, it requires sincere, conscientious effort, dedication and definitely not last minute revision.
What to expect?
With the recent changes in the IB exam format, it has become evident that memorization is no longer a sole prerequisite for achieving success in Biology. The school has altered its style of examination to be more application based. This refers to questions which provide you with statistics and graphs and require you to interpret the data. Stuff like this:
Having the knowledge from your notes is simply one piece of the puzzle! Being able to apply that content secures a good grade. A strong grasp of concepts is important and will enable you to tackle challenging application based questions which require you to interpret new research and draw links with concepts which you have learnt. Nevertheless, it is still a heavily content based subject and requires contextual knowledge to master. As such, prepare to spend long hours studying from various sources and notes. The programme also requires you to reflect on your practicals and create detailed lab reports. If you plan on pursuing biology in the future, it is recommended that you master Microsoft Excel and Word because you will spend long hours planning and drafting reports. Although biology may seem like a daunting task, it is fulfilling to be able to describe the entire human reproductive system in excruciating detail and be the envy of your peers! Word of advice: Revise each chapter at least 2 times before your test. From personal experience, you’re dead if you take the test by just glossing through the pages of your notes or textbook.
How to approach the subject:
1) Listen carefully and intently to the lessons being taught in class as teachers place emphasis on the important concepts and possible questions which could be examinable.
2) Taking notes in class assists in internalizing the chapter
3) To prepare for application-based questions and the more unconventional questions, make sure you get tons of practice through past year papers and revision exercises issued by your teachers. They would assist in directing your way of thinking and approaching such questions.
4) Revisit chapters you are unsure of every 3-4 days and test yourself to see how much of the content you have retained.
5) The day before the exam, look through corrections and marked exercises to see where you had gone wrong. This helps in obliterating misconceptions.
Accelerated Class of Science Biology: As a student from the ACS class, I’ve got to experience the IB biology syllabus to a greater extent. Personally, I’ve observed that the further you study biology, the more it requires you to grasp concepts rather than memorizing the nitty-gritty of the subjects. The Accelerated class of Science is an amazing way to learn about extremely interesting chapters such as Advanced photosynthesis, respiration and molecular genetics on a deeper level. I had never thought there was such a vast travesty of knowledge yet to be uncovered in these chapters. The 2 year programme essentially builds a greater interest for biology as a subject and allows you to appreciate its true glory. As a student in the ACS class, your Biology Internal Assessments and coursework will be much more demanding of all three sciences. But it’s all worth it because your coursework will be distinct from the rest of the IP cohort and you get to enroll your projects into competitions like the Greenwave Bioplastics competition.
Who would have known photosynthesis could be so convoluted?
Final words of advice: Regardless of which stream you’re in: Express, IP or the ACS class, biology requires conscientious effort and dedication. Love biology and biology will love you back! Cheers!
Gaurav Kumar is from the graduating batch of 2017.