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September 26, 2020, 03:52:53 am

Author Topic: Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology  (Read 3491 times)  Share 

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Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology
« on: December 14, 2018, 09:18:20 pm »

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a score of 40+ in biology, and, as a nervous year 11 3/4 student, I loved reading these guides and thought that since I had some time on my hands until next year starts, I would make one of my own. (I'm new to the forum, hopefully I'm posting in the right place :)))

The study design:
I’m sure this’ll be the very first thing your teacher says next year, but look at the study design, it makes it quite easy to predict the type of questions you are going to encounter. Especially since 2017 was the first year to implement the new study design, any changes that have not been heavily tested in 2017 and 2018 will likely come up in the following years. It’s quite interesting to note that recent technologies such as Crispr Cas 9 have only come up in the 2018 NHT exam briefly, so it’s worth investing some time in order to master this material. Experimental design is also HUGELY emphasised in this new study design. Personally, I was never a fan of designing my own experiment and found that it was extremely time consuming during an exam situation (I would literally be writing 3/4 of a page for 4 marks...). I’ve found that the best way to tackle this is to write in dot points and be aware of exactly what the assessors will be looking out for (I quickly came up with a formula, see below). It's also important to understand the difference between accuracy and precision! This came up a number of times in multiple choice questions, and these are really easy marks that you want to be getting.

Experimental Design structure:
Scientific investigation Responses:
•   Describe your two groups - Control setup (IV not applied or set us ‘normal’) and experimental setup (IV applied) with both matched for relevant controlled variables such as age, size, species etc.

•   Each group/sample needs to be a reasonable size - 20 or more in EACH group. This allows for replication/repeatability

•   List 2-3 relevant controlled variables and state that they will be kept constant

•   State clearly what you will be investigating/changing giving units if possible (this is the independent variable)

•   State clearly what you will be measuring giving units if possible (this is the dependent variable)

•   Take the results when it is appropriate - that might be in minutes, hours, days, weeks… it depends on the experiment

•   Outline results that would support or refute the hypothesis - remember if there is no difference between the control and experimental groups the hypothesis has not been supported

How close a result is to the true value

Refers to how close two or more measurement values are to each other

Therefore, if no true value is given, we cannot make a conclusion about the accuracy of a result

We used the Nature of Biology 2 book. The content within was great but some of the material did not really relate to the study design, and, overall the time it took to read through all of the unnecessary content actually meant that it was not very beneficial. StudyON code was great initially, however, the questions ultimately repeated themselves many times over and they did ‘spoil’ exam questions.

-   Biozone - great resource especially for sacs 100% recommend

-   Atarnotes topic tests and notes - I personally did not know about these until a friend showed me in term 3, I’ve taken a look at the notes and they were INCREDIBLE. I would go so far as to saying they were of more value than my textbook (don’t go out not getting the textbook tho… teachers won’t be very happy with you ;)). I’ll definitely be purchasing these for my other subjects next year, and I wish that I had known about these sooner.

-   Atarnotes lectures - I went to the free exam revision lectures provided by Atarnotes during the term 3 holidays with some friends. I found them very useful for two reasons. Firstly, they alerted me to some things that I needed to go back over and review in unit 3 (by then many months had passed and some of the unit 3 content went a bit fuzzy). Our presenter also moved passed things like cell membranes, to instead focus on more challenging concepts such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration, where there was definitely a lot more application style questions and more queries from us, especially because VCAA conveniently neglects mentioning anything about the intermediate reaction between Glycolysis and Krebs Cycle.

-   Our school had purchased many company papers - TSSM, STAV, NEAP INSIGHT, TSFX, QAT, LISACHEM. They were obviously a helpful resource but did not always relate to the study design. It’s worth doing the current study design papers (but bear in mind that the 2017 papers were created before the implementation of the first exam that VCAA made relating to the current study design). Of these companies, STAV and NEAP were definitely the best practice exams to do. I found TSFX, LisaChem and TSSM to be a bit more on the easy side. If your school doesn’t have access to company papers, it’s definitely worth asking your teachers who may be able to purchase them for your cohort.

Personally, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my resources and I went in thinking that this may put me at a disadvantage - I had only purchased the biozone book and did not go to tuition whatsoever - but it's important to know that if you find an efficient way of studying this can definitely be overcome. You don’t need to spend lots of money to do well.

Biggest regret is definitely not working hard enough for the first SAC that I’d had taken. I started studying the night before, and underestimated the importance of the sac in general… (I got a 36/50) :P. But its important to really give each SAC your best shot. I was devastated at first (even our teacher said that getting under 37 was concerning :/ but it's really important not to let one sac quash your enthusiasm about the subject. If you are ever disappointed you’re your sac marks, know that there will be opportunities to improve, always approach your subject teachers to seek clarification and always LEARN from your sac mistakes). Chances are, if you learn from them now you won’t make them again.

How I studied:
I didn’t actually get the hang of studying efficiently until about halfway through the year, but once you know what works best for you, you will begin to see improvement. For me, I found that I learnt best by making notes and then doing practice exams. Nothing fancy: I got printer paper (basically unruled), wrote the general name of the topic we were studying in red (cellular respiration), sub heading (eg krebs cycle) in blue and then made bullet points in black. In addition to this, I found that drawing diagrams was helpful and that it was much easier to recall information because I remembered exactly what I wrote, where it was written and my thoughts whilst writing it (if this makes sense lol). I also made a document compiling errors that I had made whilst taking practice exams, this was also a great way of ensuring that I was addressing any gaps in my knowledge.

I strongly advise you against purchasing any kind of dictionary. Our school recommended purchasing a dictionary (which I had bought), but what I quickly came to realise is that exam questions relied heavily on the application of your knowledge rather than regurgitating definitions, and that memorising definitions was not only unnecessary but also disposed you to simply rote learning as opposed to understanding the content. The only exception to this was the experimental design aspect.

Getting through as many practice exams as you possibly can particularly if you are in year 11 is perhaps the most efficient way to see your scores improve. As soon as you have finished unit 3 content, it is important that you attempt some unit 3 exams from some of the older VCAA exams. Whilst there have been changes in the study design, it is fairly easy to distinguish what has and hasn’t been taught. Our cohort got given a NEAP unit 3 midyear exam and because nobody had exposed themselves to any exam questions, even the top scorers were sitting near the 60-70%.

Our school had 5 sacs
-   Osmosis and enzymes
-   Immunity
-   Genetic modification Tools
-   Origin of Homo Sapiens
-   Experimental design poster (photosynthesis and cellular respiration)
Of these SACs, the experimental design poster SAC, was a great way to improve the unit 4 sac average. The term poster is kind of misleading ;), only 3 of the 30 marks assessed the final poster, the rest tested our ability to describe the method, identify independent, dependent and controlled variables, sources of error etc. A little preparation goes a long way for this. Make sure that you understand exactly what is going on instead of relying on other group members, otherwise you will find yourself struggling the SAC.

If you’re reading this and feel as though you haven’t performed as well as you have liked throughout the year, DO NOT DESPAIR! The exams determinine 60% of your biology study score and can really help bring your sac marks up (or down) depending on how you have performed on exam day. I knew someone that had 1 sac mark less in unit 3 and unit 4 respectively and had also gotten an A for the exam. I later found out that my sacs got moderated to an A+ whilst theirs remained at the A and I suspect that this was largely due to the difference in exam performance.
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Re: Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2018, 09:28:02 pm »
Awesome! This is going to be so useful for future students, have added it to the Useful bio resources thread. Also really great to hear that you loved reading the guides on here (and yep you're in the right place)
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Re: Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 10:12:55 pm »
I do find it difficult to give studying advice since it is - however uncomforting a truth - not universally applicable and really does change for everyone, but I will just reinforce one reassurance that I perhaps wish I had known even yesterday.

Your SAC marks don't mean much alone.
I got pretty shocking SAC marks by my usual standards and even by what other people have posted getting this year.
The majority of my SACs were the high 70s and low 80s, with only two being in the low 90s. This alone would seem to condemn me to a pretty poor end outcome, however, my outcome was honestly pretty good (40+). I honestly did not and still do not know what other SAC marks other class members got and do not by any means think I 'aced' the exam - I even left a question blank.
So to all those youngins (although I am one of them) who may receive 'poor' SAC marks: do not fear as the marks alone do not seem to dictate all that much. But then again I know nothing about the spells and alchemy that VCAA does in their wizard towers to spit out the numbers that they do, so treat what I say with a grain of sand (is that the saying?)
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Re: Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 01:08:03 pm »
so im planning to buy a copy of the biozone vce 3+4, are there any places where i can buy it from because our schools bookshop dont sell it (monash bookstore). i also dont plan to order online...... ;D

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Re: Getting a 40+ in VCE Biology
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2019, 02:26:09 pm »
This helps me stay confident thank you so much <3
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