Please note, this course will be held online on the designated date if it’s not possible to run in venues.


This NEW course will demonstrate how to guide your best students to achieve Grades A and A* in future A level Biology examinations. The course will demonstrate teaching and learning ideas which will stretch and challenge able students and develop their higher thinking skills. Using feedback from the 2019 year of examinations, the course will outline what is expected of high ability students and explore ways to build your teaching practice around this.

Examples will be drawn from AQA A Level, but will be of benefit for teachers of other examination boards.


  • Focus on identifying the demands of Grades A and A* and providing materials to help teachers prepare students effectively
  • A detailed look at the different demands of questions across the Papers
  • Mark schemes will be analysed to identify and clarify the requirements of the highest levels
  • Sample answers at Grades A and A* will be discussed
  • Ideas and suggestions will be provided that will allow teachers to cover the content effectively in innovative and student-friendly ways that push the highest ability students
COURSE DATES London | Thursday 25 June 2020
  • Heads of Science Faculties
  • Heads of Biology
  • Teachers of A level Biology
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 10.45am
Grades A & A*: what do they involve?

  • Grades A & A*: what are the differences between these? What can exam feedback tell us?
  • Identifying what A* students do and incorporating it into lessons
  • Avoiding potential hazards: what can cost a top student their A grade?
  • What makes it difficult – language? Subject knowledge? Linking ideas?
  • Encouraging students to link information in the question with their own subject knowledge
  • Biology is fundamentally synoptic – what does this mean and why is it so significant with a linear course?
  • Fundamental topic areas that support success – what are they and why are they so important?

10.45 – 11.00am
Discussion: coffee break

11.00 – 12.30pm
Teaching the language of biology: key challenges for Grade A/A* students

  • Addressing misconceptions and bad habits from GCSE and identifying the impact they can have on progression
  • Analysis of mark schemes – what are the examiners looking for?
  • Building vocabulary and developing skills for writing clearly and succinctly
  • Stretching top students with activities that promote writing high quality responses
  • Activities that support the range of skills needed at A level: quantitative, reading, comprehension and writing
  • AO1 / AO2 / AO3 as a basis for structuring thinking and developing higher order thinking skills and command words in more able students

12.30 – 1.30pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.20pm
Teaching quantitative skills: stretching and challenging able students

  • Practical competence and how this links with exam success
  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate – how are they different? Examples of topics that lend themselves to these question types
  • Developing the skills of linking data to subject knowledge in responses
  • Practising for the variety of contexts in assessments
  • Approaches to different types of quantitative questions

2.20 – 2.35pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

2.35 – 3.15pm
Extended response questions and the essay: tactics for achieving the highest grades

  • Focus on the extended response questions and essay: what does a grade A/A* candidate need to do?
  • Introducing the essay and embedding preparation into your planning
  • Identifying opportunities for synoptic links: getting students into the habit of thinking and writing synoptically from day 1
  • Looking at typical questions and patterns to support students in their preparation
  • Ideas for preparing the more able through further reading
  • Working to the standard: reviewing and marking specimen scripts

3.15 – 3.30pm
Plenary and depart

Wendy Ross-Constance CSciTeach

Wendy has been teaching A level biology in schools, FE and as a private tutor for 15 years following a career in Countryside Management. Alongside her teaching she has been involved in supporting teachers through mentoring and the development and delivery of evidence based CPD and spent two years as science advisor for a MAT. In addition, she developed and led a successful STEM programme in school including a BTEC in STEM Leadership. She is an active member of the ASE (sitting on the Regional Committee) and has presented several times at the Annual Conference on her Action Research, STEM Leadership and differentiation.