AQA A-Level Biology: Maximising Student Outcomes in the Exam Papers

Course Code:


Irrespective of how well staff prepare students for the AQA exam papers in A-Level Biology, each year many marks are lost because of poor exam technique or students misinterpreting what a question is asking for. This new course will look at the different types of questions featured across the 3 exam papers and how the initial reading and dissecting of a question is key to answering the question in the way that the question setter intended it to be answered.  There will be examples of answers from across a range of topics to illustrate the differences between high scoring answers and mediocre answers, which, when grade boundaries are very ‘tight’, could mean the loss of one or more grade. Other common exam technique errors will also be addressed, and strategies introduced to help students monitor improvement in their exam technique. A methodology for marking, grading and evaluating student work will be introduced.


  • Identify the range of question types across all three exam papers
  • Identify the main areas where students lose marks when answering exam questions
  • Focus on how to extract information from a question to allow access to all the marks available
  • Analysing how; a lack of examples, repetition of information, failure to focus on key terms, insufficient points and vague comments can impact the final outcome
  • Develop strategies for student self-monitoring and evaluation of their exam technique
  • Develop an understanding of accurate staff and peer marking


Exploring the Different Types of Questions Across the Exam Papers

10.00 – 111.00am
  • Identifying the range of question types; multiple choice, short structured, longer structured, data analysis, interpretation and evaluation, practical skills, synoptic questions, comprehension and essay
  • Deepening the understanding of command words and the impact on an answer and subsequent marks gained when the command word in a question is not accurately addressed
  • Developing student’s exam skills; scaffolding, fill in gaps, part paragraphs, so-called model answers for high-scoring, mid-scoring and low-scoring responses, essay feedback sheets and developing literacy for concise answers

Morning Break

11.00 – 11.15am

Introduction to Ways to Prepare Students for Examination

11.15 – 12.30pm
  • Overview of good practice in preparation for any exam series; reflection, knowledge and skills audit, action plan, set targets and review them regularly using trackers, long term planning, question matrix per topic/paper, revision aids
  • Identifying the common pitfalls that students make at both ends of the ability spectrum and ways to avoid this
  • Using historical centre-based information to address issues with the current cohort


12.30 – 1.15pm

Extracting the Correct Information from the Question

1.15 – 2.15pm
  • A question is more than just a test of subject knowledge – how to ensure that students dissect a question correctly
  • Strategies to standardise the dissection of a question across different units, irrespective of the member of staff delivering the area of the specification
  • Strategies for selecting appropriate content and utilising effective presentation for both structured questions and synoptic questions

Afternoon Break

2.15 – 2.30pm

Accurate Staff and Peer Marking

2.30 – 3.30pm
  • How to approach teaching A-Level exam skills with confidence
  • The use of appropriate and meaningful annotation when marking exam questions to give students the greatest amount of accurate information to help them improve their answers
  • How students can monitor their own exam technique in homework and assessment tasks


London | Friday 22 March 2024

Please select your preferred date

London | Friday 22 March 2024

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Ellena is a former Head of Biology at a top grammar school with over 25 years of outstanding teaching experience. She has extensive experience as an A-Level Biology examiner for over 20 years and holds senior positions for two major examination boards. She is closely involved in the production of AS Biology assessment material and sets exam questions for A-Level papers. She also authors A-Level and GCSE resources for several publishers and runs her own tutoring business, improving the exam outcomes for A-Level Biology students. She is an established trainer having delivered many courses for A Level biology; workshops for teachers and revision webinars for students.


  • Teachers of AQA A Level Biology
  • Heads of department/ academic lead
  • Prospective or new teachers of AQA A Level Biology


  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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