A Level Biology – How to Study From Home

Biology is a worthwhile and interesting A level to study whichever course you decide to take (fast track, AS, A2 or complete award), but you might be wondering how to study from home. We’ve broken it down into simple steps.

Oxford College A Level Biology course materials are comprehensive and represent all the topic materials you need to complete the learning journey. In addition you will require a supporting text book and engage in independent study to supplement your college work – much as you would be expected to do in a traditional educational environment. The following are the top ten tips for studying A level biology from home:

    • 1. Make sure that as soon as you register and get your student number you contact your tutor by email. That way you will not have any surprises during your study journey!
    • 2. Don’t underestimate the amount of work you will need to put in, particularly if you don’t have GCSE biology. You may need to do some basic revision alongside your A level study so be prepared to factor this into your study plan/time allocation.
    • 3. The examination sessions are January and June and you will need to put in a full academic year’s study before you are ready to take the written examinations and coursework elements. Therefore if you enter the course at November for example, you will not be ready to take exams in the following January and will need to be motivated and put in a lot of work to enter the following June exams.
    • 4. There are coursework elements to the biology awards and this requires independent study at two different levels. For AS you must produce a report which arises from a visit to a place of biological interest or is based on systematic review of current evidence. For A2 you must complete a practical study which as a distance learner you can do from home. Many students get anxious about coursework for biology in distance learning but if you are aware of the requirements from the start then you should be able to get ahead. Your tutor sends you an induction pack which gives you lots of information.
    • 5. Registration for examination sessions closes several months before the actual date you sit them. Therefore a clear study plan and identification of key dates will help you complete the administrative tasks as they arise. Click the link for more information on finding an examination placement centre.
    • 6. There is a basic maths requirement involved in A level biology so you will be required to do some elementary formulae and calculations – many students are unaware of this! Again – a good GCSE revision guide for maths or use of a revision site will help you overcome this obstacle.
    • 7. The course assignments are designed to ‘test’ knowledge and understanding of both theory and science skills so it is advisable to complete all assignments and not the minimum required, otherwise your strengths and weaknesses will not be identified and you may find it difficult during the revision phase of the course.
    • 8. The exam board web site has invaluable information such as exam timetables, centre names, practice papers and answer sheets, student forums etc. Make sure you explore the site now and again, particularly when you get close to the examination session so that you are up to date on everything: www.edexcel.com
    • 9. The current biology material is related to ‘real life’ rather than being remote, therefore your study will cover issues that you will be familiar with such as health, wellbeing, the environment etc. This means that the course has an affinity to your everyday life and the Oxford Learning course material reflects this. So as you study, relate your learning to life events and issues, and this will increase motivation and understanding of core topics.
    • 10. Enjoy the course!!

To summarise: most of these ‘tips’ involve looking ahead, knowing key dates and planning your study around the available time before you take your exams. Communicate with your tutor in the first instance and you will start the collaborative process which is central to effective support and your learning experience. Good luck!