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  • 1. Biology BIOL5 Essay guidance.Tips for success from your ever smiling teachers Rothery andEvans! Read & digestThe EssayThe essay question will be part of the BIOL5 exam. You will have to chooseone of two titles. It is vital to choose the one that is easier for you to answerbringing in information from lots of the course.Important points about writing the essay: In the answer to this question you should bring together relevant principles and concepts for as many different modules as possible. Your essay will be marked not only for its scientific accuracy, but also for the selection of relevant material. The essay should be written in continuous prose. Unless diagrams are clearly annotated they are a waste of time.Essays the titles from way back when in summer 2002 whenthe essay was first introduced to AQA  The different ways in which organisms used ATP  How the structure of cells is related to their functionEssay1 The ways in which organisms use ATPthe role of ATP could have been described in:  Muscle contraction  Active transport  Maintaining resting potential  Re-synthesis of acetylcholine  Glycolysis  Light independent reaction  Synthesis (biosynthesis)  Nitrogen fixation
  • 2. At least 50% of candidates went into great detail about ATP production andconsequently lost 1 relevance mark.Some candidates stated that what they were about to write was not a use,but continued nevertheless. This was plainly stupid – please don’t pull thiskind of prank in the summer.Essay 2 - How the structure of cells is related to their functionMany candidates were not clear what a cell is, confusing cells with:• Organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts• Organs• Tissues• VilliSome students did not relate structure to function eg ‘red blood cells carryoxygen’Common mistakes included the following• Nerve cells – but did not relate length to function• Blood cells – did not relate shape to function also must say red blood cells if you mean that• Sperm – has a tail so it can swim is far too simplistic• Ova – but no structural detail (should have said large reserve of nutrients for developing embryo)• Epithelial cells –‘ have villi to increase the surface area for digestion’ – it should have been microvilli• ‘Leaf cells’ – have a large SA for light absorption – should be palisade mesophyll cells shape for light absorption.• Xylem – confusion between tissue and cell• Phloem – same structure as xylem’• Stomata – confused with guard cellsStudents should have known 2 cells in detail from AS:Intestinal epithelial• Microvilli – increase S/A and uptake of products of digestion• Site of enzymic breakdown of disaccharides• Many mitochondria to release energy for active transport in the form of ATP• Large extensive golgi bodies for mucus/enzyme secretionPalisade mesophyll• Cell wall – support/resistance to turgor• Shape – uptake of light, CO2• Chloroplasts – arrangement of grana• Vacuole – turgor
  • 3. Marking EssaysEssays are marked on the following sections:  Scientific Content /16  Breadth /3  Relevance /3  QWC /3Which makes the total marks available 25.Tips for scoring Scientific content marks:This is the section where you get most marks – marks are awarded forcontent with good A level detail so you have to try to get in specific andprecise A level detail. The same detail that gets marks in the 6 markquestions gets marks in the essay for scientific content. This is the only part of your whole A level where marks are taken away for wrong answers. If you have one fundamentally error in your essay you will get 10 marks max. If you have two fundamental errors you will get 4 marks max. – this is serious stuff!! Whatever you do, do not try to guess at detail – if you cant remember the name of the coenzyme involved in photosynthesis do not guess – you could lose a lot of marks for doing so.
  • 4. Tips for scoring breadth mark:  Aim to use information from at least 2-3 different modules.  Make sure you include plant information if appropriate.Students who write a block about an irrelevant topic (such as detailedbiochemistry of respiration for the ATP question) will lose one relevance mark.Based on the cells essay for 3 breadth marks you had to refer to at least 6different cell types including at least one plant.This is how the breadth marks were awarded in June 2003.Essay 1. The structure and functions of carbohydratesFor 3 marks•Condensation reactions resulting in formation of larger carbohydratemolecules•Types of carbohydrates; mono, di and polysaccharides or namedexamples•Functions of carbohydrates – minimum of two.Essay 2. Cycles in biologyOne mark for each type of cycle coveredEcological; Metabolic; Physiological; Life
  • 5. Tips for scoring relevance marks:Basically make sure you answer the question written – if it is about roles ofATP then going on about respiration will lose relevance marks. Aim for a shortintro then straight to the point. Write a quick essay plan and stick to it.Tips for scoring QWC marks:The essay should be structured in a reasonable logical way appropriate andrelevant to the title. Ideas and concepts should be explained sufficientlyclearly to be readily understood. Continuous prose should be used andsentences should generally be complete and constructed grammatically.However, minor errors of punctuation or style should not get penalized.Appropriate A level terminology should be used. You should not use suchphrases as ‘fighting disease’ ‘messages passing along nerves’ enzymes beingkilled etc but a single lapse would not necessarily disqualify you.
  • 6. The bombproof approach to aim to write 8 paragraphs, one each on a relevant scientific concept. If you wrote 2-3 paragraphs per page your essay would be approximately about three sides long. This is a good length. Aim for 3-4 sides if you go any longer you could be wasting time that you should be spending on the other exam questionsHow should you plan the essay?Analyse the questions quickly then mentally go through BIOL1, BIOL2, BIOL4and BIOL5 content – when you think of a relevant topic write it in a spiderdiagram round the keywords of the essay title. You are aiming for 8 differenttopics for your essay but be happy if you get to 5.When you have done this quickly decide the order you are going to write yourparagraphs then start.You can write a short introduction before your first content paragraph – donot feel the need for any flowery intro or summary though – this is a biologyessay.
  • 7. Previous titlesWhat they asked for Spec A (biology then human biology when they haddifferent titles)All these titles were written by Chief Examiner Bill Indge – who has writtenthe titles for the June 2011 BIOL5 papers. In other words these are the bestguide to what you might get asked.June 2004  The transfer of energy between different organisms and between these organisms and their environment (25 marks)  Ways in which different species of organisms differ from each other (25 marks)  Ways in which different species of organisms differ from each other (25 marks)Jan 2005  Negative feedback and its importance in biology (25 marks)  Condensation and hydrolysis and their importance in biology (25 marks)June 2005  Inorganic ions include those of sodium, phosphorus and hydrogen. Describe how these and other inorganic ions are used in living organisms. (25 marks)  The effects of bacteria on the lives of humans and other organisms. (25 marks)June 2006  Polymers have different structures. They also have different functions. Describe how the structures of different polymers are related to their functions. (25 marks)  Describe how nitrogen-containing substances are taken into, and metabolised in, animals and plants. (25 marks)  Heat and many different substances are transferred within the body and between the body and the environment. Explain how surface area is linked to this transfer. (25 marks)June 2007  Carbon dioxide in organisms and ecosystems (25 marks)  Why offspring produced by the same parents are different in appearance (25 marks)
  • 8. June 2008  The importance of hydrogen bonds in living organisms (25 marks)  How nitrogen-containing substances are made available to and are used by living organisms (25 marks)  Humans and microorganisms (25 marks)  The biological importance of plants to humans (25 marks)Other essay titles that have been set for A level Biology • The causes of disease • The roles of water in the lives of organisms. • Support and movement in living organisms • Applications and implications of gene technology • Roles of pigments in living organisms • Control of the internal environment in living organisms • The role of enzymes in living organisms • Gas exchange in animals and flowering plants • Lipids in living organisms • Chemical coordination in plants and animals • The movement of molecules and ions through membranes • The chemical and biological control of insect pests • Transport systems in mammals and flowering plants • ATP and its roles in living organisms • Production and elimination of waste products in animals • The role of water in the lives of organisms • The factors affecting the growth and size of populations • The functions of proteins in plants and animals • Natural selection and the effects of environmental change