BlogLearnQCAA Biology: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving an A

QCAA Biology: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving an A

QCE Biology - Butterfly on a flower

Aiming to achieve an A in QCAA Biology but aren’t sure how to get there?

We’ve got everything you need right here with our essential tips compiled and how to work through your assessments! With all our tips and advice, you’ll be able to work your way towards an A in QCAA Biology.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

How can you achieve an A in QCAA Biology?
IA1: The Data Test
IA2: The Student Experiment
IA3: The Research Investigation
EA: The External Exam
Practice Questions for QCAA Biology

How can you achieve an A in QCAA Biology?

So, you want to achieve an A in Biology? Awesome! I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?

It’s a pretty neat goal if you ask me. While it may seem like quite the daunting task, I am here to let you know that there are a few things you should keep in mind and implement throughout the year to keep your goal within reach.

Achieving an A overall, for any subject, requires work, dedication, and resilience. But if you start strong at the beginning of the year and keep up that momentum then you will be on the right track. 

IA1: The Data Test

The first of all of your summative assessment pieces will be the data test. This will be completed during your studies of the Unit 3 content and so will only include theory from this section of the syllabus. In total, it will contribute to 10% of your grade and by following the right tips and tricks you may very well bank that 10%! 

What IA1 mark you need to get an ATAR over 90 in the Biology Data Test!

I think my biggest piece of advice is to not worry too much about the content itself. This test isn’t concerned with your ability to memorise definitions or explain tricky concepts.

All it is really interested in is whether or not you can analyse and interpret data in both graphical and tabular form. You should be able to identify trends and relationships in data and produce written conclusions or statements about said trends and relationships.

Further, you should be able to do simple calculations for the average of a sample, or the median, as well as using species diversity indices. 

So, if you don’t quite yet understand all of what is going on in Biology as you complete this test, that is okay. You won’t be asked any theory-based questions.

Thus, the best way to prepare for this is by completing practice tests. This way you get a feel for the type of questions you may be asked, and you are able to work on your analytical skills. 

Looking for some practice data test questions? Why don’t you check out these our QCAA Unit 3 Biology Data Test IA1 Practice Questions here!

IA2: The Student Experiment

Man looking through microscope

The student experiment is the first of the big assignments you will complete and is worth 20% of your overall grade. But, lucky for you, it is essentially just a bigger data test.

Rather than focussing on numerous sets of data, however, you will be focussing on one or two. You will need to implement the analytical skills you demonstrated in the data test, as well as some extras. For example, an understanding of test statistics is essential for this task! 

Additionally, this is when you will need to start linking your understanding of the concepts into your data analysis. While you don’t really need to understand the content to do well in the data test, you will need to understand the content to do well in the student experiment.

This task will also introduce you to a little bit of research — skills which will become valuable for the next assessment piece. 

Ultimately, the biggest tip that I have is to have a good understanding of what is required of you. For each section of your report, break down the ISMG.

This document should be your best friend! Also, feel free to consult your teacher about any words that you may not understand (specifically those that differentiate the different grade boundaries). For example, what does it mean to be “considered”, “justified”, or “insightful”? You should write your report in a way that shows you have done these things. 

For some guidance and extra tips for conducting and writing a student experiment, check out The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Student Experiment Report for QCAA Biology

Does your school make the top ATAR schools in Brisbane? Check out our comprehensive list here!

IA3: The Research Investigation

Scientist looking at microscope in greenhouse

For many, the research investigation is probably the most dreaded internal assessment. For nerds like myself, it is the highlight of all assessment pieces.

This task is the last of the big written assessment pieces you must complete for biology and it is worth 20% of your overall grade. Personally, I really enjoyed this task because of how much freedom it gives you. You can really go wherever you want with this task and research to your heart’s desire. 

This task is surprisingly similar to the student experiment — it just has more of a focus on research and you don’t have to collect the data yourself. You will need to analyse data, but it’s all just data that you find from some reputable study (please use something like Google Scholar to find your data and not just the first website that pops up after one Google search).

In this task, you will really need to show off your understanding of the content and it is likely that you will need to find connections between different sections of the syllabus. 

Due to its similarity to the student experiment, I have the exact same tips:

  1. Understand what is required of you.
  2. Ask your teacher to clarify those discriminating terms (e.g. “considered”, “justified”, etc.). 

For some guidance and extra tips for writing a research investigation, check out 4 Simple Steps You Can Follow to Ace Your Research Investigation for QCAA Biology

EA: The External Exam


Now this… this is the big finale. The final chance to show off all your newfound knowledge and insight. This is where all your hard work leads you to. 

I think it is safe to say that this is probably the most stressful of all assessment pieces. It does contribute to a hefty 50% of your overall grade after all.

Don’t pour your marks down the drain by taking crappy study notes throughout the year! Learn to take effective science study notes and give yourself a headstart on revision!

The secret to this task, however, is that if you understand the content and have been studying consistently throughout the year then you have nothing to worry about. 

The exam writers will only ask you questions relating to the syllabus, so if you understand the syllabus then you are all set. While there are some tips and tricks you can implement during your exam to help you succeed (e.g. reading the exam back to front but working front to back), most of your success in this exam will come down to how you prepare for it in the lead up. 

In How to Ace Your External Assessment for QCAA Biology I write about six tips you should implement in the lead up to the final exam:

  1. Finding connections
  2. Creating dialogue
  3. Taking effective notes
  4. Making it fun
  5. Completing practice papers
  6. Taking care of yourself

Additionally, I talk about some tactics you may wish to consider implementing while you are taking the exam. 

Practice Questions for QCAA Biology

Use the FREE QCE Cohort Comparison Tool to check how your marks compare with all of your peers!

For your exam preparation, doing past papers or any practice questions will be super beneficial. For this reason, I have listed some articles that have practice questions for you to complete:

  1. QCAA Practice Questions for Unit 3 & 4 Biology External Assessment
  2. QCAA Multiple Choice Practice Questions for Unit 3 & 4 Biology External Assessment
  3. Download QCAA Biology Practice Exam for External Assessment Revision
  4. The Comprehensive List of QCAA Past Papers, Guides, Tips and Info

Should I drop a subject for my QCE?

On the hunt for study guides for other subjects?

Check out the study guides we’ve created for the subjects below:

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To find out more and get started with an inspirational QCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!

Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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