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December 03, 2020, 08:09:02 am

Author Topic: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology  (Read 23500 times)  Share 

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Quantum44

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How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« on: April 18, 2017, 09:18:18 pm »
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INTRODUCTION:
Last year I received a raw study score of 45 in VCE Biology so I have decided to make a guide to help future students attain raw scores of 40+. Biology is an amazing and intricate subject requiring a deep knowledge of the course combined with an ability to fluently express your answers. Hopefully this guide can help you develop these skills, but do not think you can get away with doing no work; the key to success is to work hard and work smart. So without further delay, let's get stuck into it.

DEVELOPING KNOWLEDGE:
  • Knowledge of the course is one of the key aspects of VCE Biology, giving you your ability to actually answer questions.
  • Effectively taking notes in class is the first step to understanding the content. Personally, I used an exercise book to take class notes since I believe it aids memory, but you can use a computer if you want.
  • I didn't use checkpoints to revise topics since the questions are taken from VCAA exams and kind of spoil the practice exams. If you think doing exam style questions will help you revise topics, I'd recommend using NEAP Study Questions.
  • You shouldn't need to rote memorise anything you learn. All your memory of topics should come from understanding and visualisation. If you struggle to remember or visualise something, try to assign an acronym to it. For instance, I struggled to remember the roles of macrophages, so I used the acronym NAAA (Neutralise, Agglutinate, Activate, Attract).
  • I only rewrote notes for my SACS since most of the study design was encompassed by the 10 SACs we had, but since there are only 5 now it may be beneficial to rewrite your class notes in a neater fashion for topics that are not assessed until the exam.
  • I never felt the need to work ahead since I was perfectly happy with finishing the course in around late August, but if your school is a bit slow you might want to consider pushing through Unit 4 a bit faster. I also started Unit 3 exams during Unit 4 so I'd already done plenty of exams before we finished the course, which I'd highly recommend.
  • I regret using the textbook so much in Unit 3. We used Nature of Biology, which included so much useless information and not enough about the important stuff. You might use a better textbook, but I'd still recommend sourcing your notes/information from somewhere else as the textbook generally gives an unbalanced view of the course.
  • If there was any resource I'd recommend, it would be the connect education notes. They are comprehensive and serve as a great basis for your formal notes along with other resources you manage to acquire.

DEVELOPING EXPRESSION:
  • Developing expression is the other key to success in VCE Biology. To get full marks you need to explain your reasoned answer in a fluent and cohesive way.
  • Practice is really the only way to develop this, so I wouldnít worry too much about it early on. As you answer more and more questions to practice for SACs and eventually the exam you will develop better biological phrasing.
  • I used dot points to phrase my answers for multi-mark questions in the exam. It really helps make sure you answer the question and you can dedicate one dot point for each mark to make sure you get full marks. This strategy is particularly helpful for explaining processes such as Natural Selection, Speciation and Protein Synthesis, where you can develop formulaic responses in dot points you can apply to the exam.

STUDYING FOR SACS:
  • School Assessed Coursework contributes a fair percentage to your study score, and despite being moderated by cohort exam scores, its important to do well to increase your confidence and make sure you understand the content.
  • You should start thinking about SAC revision around two weeks before each SAC. By one week before you should be well into your revision schedule.
  • The first way to study for a SAC is to write SAC notes. These should be comprehensive and explicitly based around the topics being tested on the SAC. You should compile them using a variety of resources so you must actively think about what you are writing. If you put them in your own words you will be more likely to be able to remember what you have written. Once you have written the notes you should revise them every night before the SAC.
  • The next way is to do practice questions. My teacher gave me worksheets to do which she would mark, however doing checkpoints or NEAP questions should work well to revise the topic.
  • A lot of people wonder what you should aim for in your SACs. The simple answer is to do your best. Of course if you want 40+ you should be looking at around 90% but it really depends on the difficulty of the SACs.
  • You should also test your friends on your knowledge. Whenever you see them, ask them questions or start a group chat to test each other.
  • The last step is to destroy the SAC. Walk in with confidence, knowing that you worked your hardest to study for it.
  • Should you discuss the SAC afterwards? Well thatís up to you, I personally enjoyed the post-SAC discussion with my friends but can also cause unnecessary stress.

STUDYING FOR THE EXAM:
  • The exam is the defining part of VCE Biology. It will make or break your study score, which is why you have to put a lot of effort into revising.
  • Revision notes are the key to success. In the term 2 holidays I decided to write comprehensive notes based around the study design to revise unit 3. This helped me in term 3 and 4 as I recalled the unit 3 knowledge far better and made general revision before the exam easier.
  • I also made comprehensive revision notes for unit 4 during the term 3 holidays as a revision tool. Once I had completely finished my notes I reviewed them every night.
  • Practice exams are the single most important part of studying for the exam, even more so than revision notes. I did 40 practice exams, which I felt was the perfect amount, and hence Iíd recommend doing around 40 practice exams.
  • I started doing all the unit 3 VCAA exams in term 3. This meant I could alternate between non-VCAA and unit 4 VCAA exams each day of the holidays. I saved the VCAA exams from 2013, 2014 and 2015 until the last couple of weeks.
  • Before the exam you should figure out your exam strategy. Decide if you want to do multiple choice or short answer first. You may also find it beneficial to write down the time you should finish each question at the bottom of the page to make sure you are on track to finish with time to spare. Iíd recommend finishing with around 20 minutes to go so you can check your short answer responses.
  • Iíd recommend spending around 40 minutes on multiple choice and 90 minutes on short answer so you have 20 minutes left to check over the exam.

REGRETS:
  • My main regret is studying inefficiently for term 1 and the holidays. It wasnít until term 2 that I refined my technique and starting learning content and revising for SACs efficiently.
    • I wish I wasnít so dependent on the textbook at the beginning of the year. I felt the Nature of Biology textbook included too much useless extra information and didnít focus enough on assessable parts of the course.
    • I should have focused more on my mistakes in my practice exams rather than smashing so many out as by the end I just couldnít keep up with my mistake log and never bothered to revise it.
    • I also regret petering out at the end. By the time the exam was a couple of weeks away I had almost given up. I had no practice exams left, had done my notes, and had no direction. As a result I ended up relaxing far too much and may not have been at my peak by the time the exam came around. Iíd recommend timing your exam revision better so you donít finish too early.

OTHER TIPS:
  • Aim high in your SACs, but donít be disappointed if you donít reach your goal. SACs matter, but in the end the exam is what counts. I generally aimed for 90% but I often fell short and even got ~50% in one.
  • I had a tutor for Biology but I donít think itís entirely necessary. I only really had one since it was my year 11 subject and I wanted to do the best I possibly could. Tutoring was still useful as I could learn content ahead and revise it in class when the teacher taught it.
  • Lectures can be worthwhile, but you should choose them wisely. I went to an aced lecture and connect education lecture during the term 3 holidays. The aced lecture was 4 hours and felt like a waste of time as it was a complete rush. The connect education lecture on the other hand was great, as it was 9 hours and was very comprehensive revision.

THOUGHTS ON NEW STUDY DESIGN:
  • Seems to be more of a focus on biochemistry regarding the plasma membrane, specifically how polarity and size affects movement across the membrane so it would be worth brushing up on some chemistry.
  • Carbohydrates and lipids have been abandoned. The entire focus if now on proteins and nucleic acids when considering biomacromolecules. The four levels of protein structure were assessed on the 2016 exam and now have an entire dot point so Iíd say VCAA are pretty keen on them.
  • Gene regulation seems to be more of a concern than even gene expression with the lac operon, a common example, being explicitly mentioned. Iím sure that will come up on the exam.
  • Apoptosis came up on the 2016 exam and is now very prevalent in the study design, so be sure to know it in detail as an example of cellular signaling.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are new to the study design, it seems VCAA are moving towards cancer causes and treatments in this new study design.
  • So much evolution in unit 4. All the fun genetics has been removed and now DNA technology has been embroiled with the new addition of bioethics.
  • Overall, unit 3 remains much the same but unit 4 has been shaken up quite a bit. There are a few completely new dot points VCAA are exploring so be careful that your teachers actually teach you the whole course.
  • Remember, the study design should be your bible; it should be constantly referred to when revising and writing notes.

CONCLUSION:
I wish you the best of luck in succeeding in biology and I hope you found this guide useful.
Remember this is your bible: http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/vce/biology/BiologySD-2016.pdf[/list]
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 04:15:06 pm by Quantum44 »
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rachid.kam

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 09:46:09 pm »
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Hey Quantam!
Well done on such an amazing job. Your overview is really concise and straight-forward, something which I think everyone can relate to. There is no doubt that other students will benefit from your insights and views on succeeding in the subject. As for me, I loved Bio, with a passion. But I picked up the subject as a 3&4 in year 11 because I really needed a "Bludge". I felt that even if I did study, my SAC marks were only going to differ by 1-2 marks. So I really just kicked back the whole year, attended some TSFX lectures and watched crash course videos. I went into the year hoping that I could pull off a 37 because my SAC average was only around 85%, but I managed to pump out a raw 41. So considering that I put in very minimal effort, I was over the moon! I guess that my best advice to every Bio student out there is to experiment with different study techniques until you find the one that best suits your needs specially tailored to you. It is only then you will find studying a much easier task, and that you will come to appreciate the subject. That's what I did, and so can you.
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Texts and Traditions: The path toward a 40+
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Quantum44

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 09:56:31 pm »
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Hey Quantam!
Well done on such an amazing job. Your overview is really concise and straight-forward, something which I think everyone can relate to. There is no doubt that other students will benefit from your insights and views on succeeding in the subject. As for me, I loved Bio, with a passion. But I picked up the subject as a 3&4 in year 11 because I really needed a "Bludge". I felt that even if I did study, my SAC marks were only going to differ by 1-2 marks. So I really just kicked back the whole year, attended some TSFX lectures and watched crash course videos. I went into the year hoping that I could pull off a 37 because my SAC average was only around 85%, but I managed to pump out a raw 41. So considering that I put in very minimal effort, I was over the moon! I guess that my best advice to every Bio student out there is to experiment with different study techniques until you find the one that best suits your needs specially tailored to you. It is only then you will find studying a much easier task, and that you will come to appreciate the subject. That's what I did, and so can you.

Yes I completely agree. Bio is an interesting subject, I came into it expecting it to be a straight forward science subject but it can often be quite subjective and English-like at times. I do know of some people who did well without studying that hard like you, and some people who didn't do so well but studied really hard. For me I did well by studying really hard so I guess you just have to find the right approach to studying the subject as it varies from person to person more than subjects like maths.
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Gogo14

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2017, 11:35:40 pm »
+3
Wah! What a legend!
Now looking back I really miss doing bio  :-\
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Quantum44

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 07:26:04 am »
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Wah! What a legend!
Now looking back I really miss doing bio  :-\

Thanks mate, I also miss bio quite a lot. It was always my favourite subject and I'm not sure any of my current subjects are going to change that.
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Joseph41

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 07:58:09 am »
+2
Amaaaaazing thread, Quantum. Thank you so much! I hit that +1 button so hard haha.

Do you mind if we promote this on our Facebook page etc.? ;D

Quantum44

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2017, 08:18:44 am »
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Amaaaaazing thread, Quantum. Thank you so much! I hit that +1 button so hard haha.

Do you mind if we promote this on our Facebook page etc.? ;D

Thank you Joseph, don't mind at all if you want to put it on Facebook
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brenden

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2017, 11:52:28 am »
+4
Amaaaaazing thread, Quantum. Thank you so much! I hit that +1 button so hard haha.

Do you mind if we promote this on our Facebook page etc.? ;D
Thank you Joseph, don't mind at all if you want to put it on Facebook
Yep, and we'll email it to Bio students... love this... want as many people to see it as possible. Quantum44 you absolute ledge!!
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cookiedream

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2017, 01:58:02 pm »
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!!!  ;D
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brenden

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2017, 02:46:00 pm »
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Thank you Joseph, don't mind at all if you want to put it on Facebook
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!!!  ;D
Did you two just become best friends?

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Quantum44

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2017, 04:18:55 pm »
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!!!  ;D

No problem, thank you for your amazing methods guide, it was definitely the inspiration for me to make this :)
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tnguyen283

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2017, 09:41:49 pm »
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Hey, this was incredibly helpful! I was wondering what was your mistake log? And was it beneficial?

Joseph41

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2017, 09:43:16 pm »
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Hey, this was incredibly helpful! I was wondering what was your mistake log? And was it beneficial?

I'm obviously not Quantum44, but welcome to ATAR Notes! ;D

Quantum44

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2017, 10:09:12 pm »
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Hey, this was incredibly helpful! I was wondering what was your mistake log? And was it beneficial?

Glad I helped! For my mistake log, I basically cut out my mistakes from practice exams and stuck them into a book to revise every day. In the end I never found time to revise it often enough and I didn't manage to stick in all my mistakes but I think the stuff I did revise definitely helped.
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Hydroxyl

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Re: How to get 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2017, 09:18:32 pm »
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This guide is amazing and I'm sure that many people will benefit! ~

I also miss Biology, I just had a look over the 2016 exam which made me remember what a fun subject it is :D
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