Biology Paper 3


Take notes of experiments and studies throughout your 2 year
At first, I mistakenly thought that we didn’t need to memorise the details of experiments. I realised quite late that I was quite wrong, so I don’t feel like I did as well as I could for my Paper 3. You need to really remember some of the smaller details of the experiments because these are asked for section A of Paper 3. I suggest that since these experiments support the content you need to know for Paper 1 and 2, you should take notes on the details of these studies.

For example, if you pay attention in class, you probably know what paper chromatography is and what it can be used to do. However, the IB can apparently ask you to name the solvents used in paper chromatography and different types of pigments that can be found through paper chromatography. You need to remember key details like these because the IB assesses your knowledge of these in Section A of Paper 3 - this section is dedicated solely to your knowledge of the experiments.


IB Procrastinating today - IB screwed tomorrow
— A popular IB Meme

You don’t need to worry too much about your Biology Option early on
This is the only part of the IB I encourage you to procrastinate on. Of course, pay attention in class when your teacher does the Option and take notes. Study the option for the Mock Exams. But in the lead up to the May exams, your priority should be on the content-heavy Paper 1 and Paper 2, which earns you the bulk of your marks. Since Paper 3 is on a separate day (either the day after, or if you’re lucky like me, the Monday after), you have some time to study for your option after Paper 1 and 2. Also, the textbook section on each option is quite short, so you have ample time to study - prioritise and don’t put an extra burden on yourself in studying for Paper 1 and 2.

Study Guide

Use the Study Guide as a shortcut
Usually, most people find the first two chapters of any option to be fairly easy. You kind of “get it” even after just paying attention in class. Save yourself time when you study for Paper 3 by reading about the first two chapters in the Study Guide, rather than the full textbook.

Use the Textbook for thorough coverage
However, the next few chapters start getting tricky because of the details. Read the textbook for these chapters. Even though the textbook is a lot longer, it covers the harder sections in much, much more detail, which allows you to get a much more thorough overview of the unit. Don’t read passively, as students often do - this leads to the confirmation error - you feel you understand the units, even if you don’t really because the answer is right there. Rather, try to read aloud through the important sections, which forces you to focus and read every word thoroughly. Also, try to ask yourself potential questions after reading a page, as the IB might. Close the book and ask yourself to “define” a term, or to “explain” a process and check in the textbook if you did so properly.