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Leaving Cert Biology - How To Get That H1!

April 4, 2016

How to get a H1 in Leaving Cert Biology

Leaving Cert Biology - Get an A!

Well the simple answer is everything.  However some things are more important than others and this is determined by the makeup of the exam paper. 

Know the rules and the way the paper is organised.
The way that the exam paper is organised means that you can obtain 80% of the marks from just over 40% of the material on the syllabus.

Four of the questions in Section A of the exam should come from Units 1 and 2 of the syllabus i.e. 80 marks.  The other two questions should be from Unit 3.

All the questions in Section B come from the Mandatory Practical Activities (MPA’s).  You are required to do two of these, so this adds up to 60 marks.  There are 21 experiments in total to be covered.

In Section C of the exam, usually called “the long questions”, one question has to come from Unit 1 i.e. 60 marks, two questions from Unit 2 i.e. 120 marks and three questions have to come from Unit 3 i.e. 180 marks.



If you think about this you can score 320 out of a maximum of 400 marks from Units 1, 2 and MPA’s.  This adds up to 80% which is almost an A grade.  In addition you can score extra marks from the MPA’s because frequently there are parts of the questions in section C dealing with the MPA’s.

What are the topics in Units 1, 2 and the MPA’s?  They are listed in the table below.

Leaving Cert Biology MPA


In Unit 3 some topics come up more frequently than others so you need to learn these first.


These topics include


•    Microbiology
•    Human reproduction
•    Plant reproduction
•    Excretion and Homeostasis
•    Nervous and Endocrine Systems


Know the definitions required.

Definitions are another very important area where marks can be accumulated very quickly.  They are usually phrased in one of the following ways; “define”, “explain” or “what do you understand by the following.....?. 

In almost all papers these are worth around 20% of the total marks.  To ensure full marks the definitions must be accurate.  You should have all your definitions either as a list on A4 sheets, on paper flash cards or on your computer using an App. such as “Quizlet”.  The advantage of these is that you can study them when you have “time to kill”.  These are very important exams and you will have lots of time to relax in July and August; so use every minute of time wisely and you will be able to really enjoy your holidays because you will be confident that you have done your best.  


Use the past papers and marking schemes.
This is very important because the marking schemes give the answers in the briefest terms.  It also becomes clear that spelling is not important except in a few special cases e.g. ureter/urethra and adenine/adenosine. 

You will also notice that you can get full marks without giving every single detail of the topic asked.  

Exactly what points of information do I have to know on each topic?

This information is available in the syllabus.  If you were entering a major competition you would not just turn up on the day and hope for the best.  You would find out what the rules are and try and find out what previous winners had done.


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