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GCSE Biology - Revision

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Assessment Type


% of Course




Paper 1: Cell Biology; Organisation; Infection and Response; Bioenergetics

Written Exam

1h 45m


Paper 2: Homeostasis and response; Inheritance; variation and evolution; Ecology

Written Exam

1h 45m


Revision strategies

Where do I Start?

There is a lot to learn in Science, especially when you are taking Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate GCSEs. That is why you need to start your revision early and organise your time. The first step is to get your hands on the syllabus for each subject. All the Science course specifications are extremely useful, because they provide clear definitions for terms you must be familiar with and tell you which examples, processes and practicals you need to remember in detail.

Go through the syllabus to work out the bits you are most and least confident on. If you are unfamiliar with any subject content, look it up in revision guides or using the internet

You can find your Biology specification here.

Specific revision strategies

  • Make spider diagrams / mind maps
  • Make notes – but not too many. Don’t just copy out text, read a paragraph and summarise it.
  • Use flashcards/formula cards.
  • Use diagrams, flow charts, equations and formula triangles to help you visualise ideas in different ways.
  • Review key terms, and definitions to ensure you are confident with these as you will need to use the correct language in the exams.
  • Regularly review ideas and test yourself on these
  • Ensure you learn and can use the physics equations you will need for your exams.
  • Don’t forget to revise the required practicals as these will also be in your exams. Make sure you are confident in the methods, and skills used practical work including drawing graphs, analysing data, interpreting variables, drawing conclusions and evaluating.

Revision areas

Paper 1

Unit 1: Cell biology
  1. Eukaryotes and prokaryotes
  2. Animal and plant cells
  3. Cell specialisation
  4. Cell differentiation
  5. Microscopy
  6. Chromosomes
  7. Mitosis and the cell cycle
  8. Stem cells
  9. Diffusion
  10. Osmosis
  11. Active transport
  12. Culturing microorganisms
Unit 2: Organisation
  1. Principles of organisation
  2. The human digestive system
  3. The heart and blood vessels
  4. Blood
  5. Coronary heart disease
  6. Health issues
  7. The effect of lifestyle on some non-communicable diseases
  8. Cancer
  9. Plant tissues
  10. Plant organ system
Unit 3: Infection and response
  1. Communicable (infectious) diseases
  2. Viral diseases
  3. Bacterial diseases
  4. Fungal diseases
  5. Protist diseases
  6. Human defence systems
  7. Vaccination
  8. Antibiotics and painkillers
  9. Discovery and development of drugs
  10. Producing monoclonal antibodies
  11. Detection and identification of plant diseases
  12. Plant defence responses
Unit 4: Bioenergetics
  1. Photosynthetic reaction
  2. Rate of photosynthesis
  3. Uses of glucose from photosynthesis
  4. Aerobic and anaerobic respiration
  5. Response to exercise
  6. Metabolism
Required practical activities
  • Required practical activity 1: Use a light microscope to observe, draw and label a selection of plant and animal cells.
  • Required practical activity 2: Investigate the effect of antiseptics or antibiotics on bacterial growth using agar plates and measuring zones of inhibition.
  • Required practical activity 3: Investigate the effect of a range of concentrations of salt or sugar solutions on the mass of plant tissue.
  • Required practical activity 4: Use qualitative reagents to test for a range of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.
  • Required practical activity 5: Investigate the effect of pH on the rate of reaction of amylase enzyme.
  • Required practical activity 6: Investigate the effect of light intensity on the rate of photosynthesis using an aquatic organism such as pondweed.

Paper 2

Unit 5: Homeostasis and response
  1. Homeostasis
  2. The human nervous system
  3. Human endocrine system
  4. The brain
  5. The eye
  6. Control of body temperature
  7. Control of blood glucose concentration
  8. Maintaining water and nitrogen balance in the body
  9. Hormones in human reproduction
  10. Contraception
  11. The use of hormones to treat infertility (HT only)
  12. Negative feedback (HT only)
  13. Plant hormones
  14. Use of plant hormones
Unit 6: Inheritance, variation and evolution
  1. Sexual and asexual reproduction
  2. Meiosis
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction
  4. DNA and the genome
  5. DNA structure
  6. Genetic inheritance
  7. Inherited disorders
  8. Sex determination
  9. Variation
  10. Evolution
  11. Selective breeding
  12. Genetic engineering
  13. Cloning
  14. Theory of evolution
  15. Speciation
  16. Understanding of genetics
  17. Evidence for evolution
  18. Fossils
  19. Extinction
  20. Resistant bacteria
  21. Classification of living organisms
Unit 7: Ecology
  1. Communities
  2. Abiotic factors
  3. Biotic factors
  4. Adaptations
  5. Levels of organisation
  6. How materials are cycled
  7. Decomposition
  8. Impact of environmental change
  9. Biodiversity
  10. Waste management
  11. Land use
  12. Deforestation
  13. Global warming
  14. Maintaining biodiversity
  15. Trophic levels
  16. Pyramids of biomass
  17. Transfers of biomass
  18. Factors affecting food security
  19. Farming techniques
  20. Sustainable fisheries
  21. Role of biotechnology
Required practical activities
  • Required practical activity 7: Plan and carry out an investigation into the effect of a factor on human reaction time.
  • Required practical activity 8: Investigate the effect of light or gravity on the growth of newly germinated seedlings.
  • Required practical activity 9: Measure the population size of a common species in a habitat
  • Required practical activity 10: Investigate the effect of temperature on the rate of decay of fresh milk by measuring pH change.


Past papers

It is vital you do past papers and mark them yourself. Exam practice is important as the examiner will want to see you can apply the scientific ideas you have been studying, and past papers will show how this is done. Follow this link to access Biology past papers.