Effective studying for biology A-level

Tried and tested top tips for effective studying from teacher Beverley Goodger – winner of Biology Teacher of the Year, 2013.

If you want to get the best possible results from your studying, remember the last four letters of the word RESULTS.


Don’t just file your notes away until next lesson. You must make sure that you understand what you have done in class.

Read and re-read  the notes made in class

  • Read the relevant section in your text book
  • Read around the topic using other text books and journals
  • Make additional notes from your textbook (and other books/journals)
  • Make a glossary of key terms and definitions
  • Ask your peers/ teacher for help if you still don’t understand.
  • Read ahead so that next lesson you will be familiar with any new vocabulary/concepts



You have got so much to learn that you can’t leave it all until the end. You have to learn as you go along.

  • Reading is NOT learning
  • What’s your active learning style? What helps you to remember information? Making colourful revision notes? Look/ cover /write/ check? Speaking it aloud from memory?
  • Repetition –you learn the words of your favourite song by listening to the words and repeating them over and over again. You have to do the same with the words in the topic that you are learning


T is for TESTING

Have you really mastered the topic? Whether you are preparing for an exam or consolidating your learning, you must give yourself time to test out your knowledge and understanding at the end of each section of study.

  • Answer questions from past papers as you review/revise each topic and mark them using official mark schemes. If you’re losing marks, go back and re-consolidate your learning, then try again
  • Use your glossary of key vocabulary to make flash cards and use them  to test your knowledge of key terms and definitions
  • Ask your friends  and family to test you using your revision notes/flash cards/text book/revision guide



Do you know what’s on your specification? If it’s on the specification, you can be asked questions about it in the exam.

  • Find yours on your exam board’s website
  • Turn the specification into questions
  • Look at the section of the specification that is relevant to the topic that you are studying. Have you understood all the key concepts outlined? Have you defined all the key vocabulary in your glossary? Can you answer the relevant specification-based questions that you prepared in the previous bullet point? If you can’t, work through the …ULT stages again


And finally, remember that this all takes TIME.
  • Every hour in the classroom should be matched by AT LEAST one hour of consolidation and review of that subject in your own time.
  • When it comes to preparing for exams or tests, plan your revision schedule with a calendar to make it realistic and manageable
  • Keep an eye on the countdown to your exam/test/deadline-don’t leave yourself short of time.
  • Build in some you-time. Taking a short break when you can alter your focal length and think about something completely unrelated to your work is a vital part of successful studying! Go outside for a walk/run, meet with friends, play sport, be active for an hour before you return to your books.