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I was a little shocked when I received my A2 Biology revision guide through the post in August, as it was about twice the size of my AS revision book. I had expected the guide to be longer in length, given the accumulation of knowledge the course presents over the two year period, but I found it odd that the A2 biology guide was so much longer than the A2 chemistry equivalent. However, as the biology course covers a good deal more theory than chemistry, I have concluded that the author of the former has decided to spread the subject out over more pages simply to aid students' knowledge of the subject.
The guide is 252 pages long, and is designed to aid those studying a variety of syllabuses:
- AQA A
- AQA B
At the tops of the pages, or double pages, those who do not need to learn the information therein are informed so they do not waste their time revising irrelevant information. This makes the guide suitable for a variety of students, and is comprehensible to all. There is also a section at the beginning of the book to let students of each syllabus know exactly which topics, and on which pages, they should study.
The book is very easy to understand, being as topic titles are presented in bold, green boxes, and text scattered with colour and italics, diagrams and photographs. This is especially useful during the genetics topic, as this frequently becomes very complicated and the different colours and innovative diagrams make many issues clearer to the student.
This is a great revision guide, and while as an AQA A student there are many pages I do not need to concern myself with, I do find the book very useful overall, and it contains a good deal of material by text book does not. It also helps me by explaining concepts in a different way.
During my Advanced Level biology course, I found this revision guide very helpful as it helps to clear up on subjects. The only annoying thing I found, which you find with most educational books is that they contradict each other. This guide was right in some ways but wrong in others. The book is modernised though and a lot of the confusion comes from different names for certain features. For example, the fibres spreading across the ventricles in the heart are traditionally 'purkinje' fibres, but according to an ex-examiner who's a biology teacher at my old school, you use the term 'purkyne' fibres nowadays, which was printed in this revision guide correctly.
The revision guide can be found along with other revision guides in shops such as WHSmith, Waterstones and Book world. The RRP is £10.99, and you will usually have to pay this price offline. Online, you can buy the book in a used and new condition from £2.99. There are many sellers, obviously from people like me who have completed the course and no longer need the book. I am keeping it for future reference if I need it through medical school, although I'm sure the course will be a lot more advanced. But I must never forget the basics!
The book has a black cover, which is coated by polythene to give the card cover a stronger feel. There is a gradient to a maroon colour on the bottom of the book, which signifies its from the A2 range and not the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) range. The front cover and spine of the book clearly say 'A2-Level Biology' and 'The Revision Guide'.
At the beginning, you have the contents page, which shows fifteen topics, suitable for OCR, AQA A, AQA B and Edexcel Biology courses. Topics include Energy processes, populations and interactions, meiosis, genetics and gene control, classification, selection and evolution, control, coordination & homeostasis, physiology and the environment, gene technology, ecology, applications of genetics and more. The book also contains option topics such as food science, which is for OCR I think.
I did the Edexcel course, which included plants and hormones. You can also do an Edexcel Human course, which excludes the plant stuff and goes into more detail on human biology. The A2 course is considerably harder than the AS. Not only are the topics harder, but the examiners are a lot harsher on marking. Compared to almost full marks in units 1 and 2, I went down to the 80s in unit 4 (the first A2 unit), which shows how the marking is considerably harsher. This book is very useful when it comes to the synoptic paper as you need a general overview of everything, so can flick through here and learn as much as you can. With an essay question, the more you mention, the better. This book will help you to cover a range of things, but the detail isn't as great as your course may require. However, this guide contains good enough detail to get through the course and do well.
The pages are laid out very well with all different colours to highlight important things and keep you interested. I find these revision guides the best to revise from because of this and the way they are a bit more light-hearted than other revision guides. They contain little jokes and other things to keep you entertained. My favourite one has to be - 'The name's Bond. Peptide Bond' I think this appeared in the AS revision guide, but it's the sort of thing that sadly keeps you entertained. Revision isn't fun, so anything to lighten the mood impressed me.
This revision guide makes a good resource for revision but should not purely be used by itself. It can be used to make things understood better or to cover topics in more depth or to even cover topics you haven't had time for. However, it doesn't contain every bit of information. For example, the bit on the brain will contain functions of certain parts but it misses out other parts that are in the specification. I would recommend it as a side-resource during the course, but I would not purely learn from it. It has a great layout and clearly presents most material to you including diagrams, photos and pictures.
Thanks for reading,