This course will provide teachers with an insight into preparing students for the new linear assessment with a particular focus on the synoptic nature of biology and the challenge of aiming for A/A*. The day will be discussion and activity based around teaching and learning ideas for the variety of questions students will come across with an emphasis on delegates identifying strategies they can use in their own teaching.


By the end of the course delegates will have:
  • Identified the challenges faced by students aiming for A/A* and what is expected of them in different types of question
  • Learned how to incorporate the range of skills required at A level into lesson planning
  • Developed strategies for encouraging students to transfer good knowledge and understanding into a high quality response
  • Explored ideas that will enable students to work synoptically throughout the course
  • Developed a clear understanding of essay requirements and methods of preparing students from the start of the course
COURSE DATES London Thursday 6 June 2019
London Thursday 14 November 2019
  • Teachers of A level biology, particularly those early in their career
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
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


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

  • Structure and challenges of the new linear specification A-Level Biology exams – challenges, benefits and taking advantage of both.
  • Grades A & A*: what are the differences between these? What can exam feedback tells 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?
  • Biology is fundamentally synoptic – what does this mean and why is it so significant with a linear course?

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
  • 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 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? A level biology skills required for success
  • 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.
  • Ideas for preparing the more able through further reading.
  • Working to the standard: reviewing and marking specimen scripts

3.15 – 3.30pm
Plenary discussion and depart

Wendy Ross-Constance

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. She was a key stage 3 SAT examiner for a number of years. She is a very enthusiastic biologist.

View all courses led by Wendy Ross-Constance >