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Overview: Biology HL

The topics in Biology HL are divided into 3 sections: core topics, HL-specific topics, and the option. Core topics are included in the syllabus for all students in Biology, both SL and HL. The first 6 topics are core, while the last 5 topics are HL-specific. You will notice that the unit names for some topics are similar-sounding. This is because most of the HL-specific topics are just continuations of earlier units in order to provide students with a more in-depth understanding.

Topics

  1. Cell Biology
  2. Molecular Biology
  3. Genetics
  4. Ecology
  5. Evolution and Biodiversity
  6. Human Physiology
  7. Nucleic Acids
  8. Metabolism, Cell Respiration, and Photosynthesis
  9. Plant Biology
  10. Genetics and Evolution
  11. Animal Physiology

As a part of this subject, you will cover one out of four additional topics called the option. Usually, your teacher chooses which topic to cover.

  1. Neurobiology and Behaviour
  2. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
  3. Ecology and Conservation
  4. Human Physiology

Biology HL students are graded based on 3 final papers, one IA, and the “Group 4” project:

Paper 1

This paper consists of 40 multiple choice questions. All topics except for the option will be tested, and around 15 of them will be based on content from core topics.

Paper 2

This paper consists of short-answer and extended-response questions based on content from core and HL-specific topics. While 3 extended-response questions are given, students will only attempt to answer 2 of them.

Paper 3

This paper is divided into 2 sections: Section A and B. Section A consists of short-answer questions based on experimental techniques and analyses of unseen data. This section is not content-heavy. Instead, it requires that you apply critical-thinking skills and show understanding of concepts. On the other hand, Section B requires students to answer short-answer and extended response questions based on their chosen option.

IA

The IA is a scientific investigation of one topic of your choosing. It should include a practical investigation (e.g. laboratory experiment) and an analysis of the data produced from the practical.

Group 4 Project

The Group 4 project is a collaborative project in which students from all science subjects work on a scientific investigation and presentation. Personally, my project was about solving the water shortage crisis in Manila.

For some practical advice on how to do well in Biology, check out our article on it!

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