How to Retake GCSE Biology Online | GCSEs for Adults & Teens
GCSE Biology can be more important for your future than you might think, so don’t let failing it on your first attempt hold you back.
If you failed GCSE Biology at school or narrowly missed the grade you wanted, you might find that you need to retake the course so you can move on to the next stage of your career - or start a new one altogether (like Kathryn and Alex).
Biology can be particularly useful if you want to work in fields such as nursing, midwifery, education, medicine, dentistry, health, conservation, or STEM subjects - and the good news is you can now resit your GCSE Biology online! This means you can study at your own pace, on your own time, and in an environment that’s entirely comfortable and convenient for you.
Whether you’re resitting after one year or twenty, online learning is the key to achieving the grade you need. To give you more insight, below we go into detail about how you can go about retaking GCSE Biology online and start towards the next phase in your future.
Do you choose a GCSE or an IGCSE?
One of the first things you’ll be confronted with when preparing to retake GCSE Biology is whether you want to study it as a GCSE or an IGCSE. Don’t panic though! It’s actually not an overly difficult choice to make as at the end of the day, both are globally recognised as equivalent qualifications (the ‘I’ in IGCSE actually just stands for International).
The main difference between GCSEs and IGCSEs comes down to coursework, which is a requirement of most GCSEs, but is not required at all for IGCSEs. This simply means that IGCSEs are better suited for being taught online, so you might find that most online providers will exclusively offer IGCSE courses.
Choose the right course provider
A quick online search will show you that there are a lot of providers offering online GCSE or IGCSE Biology courses, however, before you hand over your hard-earned money you should be entirely sure that what you’re purchasing will suit your needs.
First and foremost, you should make sure that the course has been accredited by a recognised exam board such as AQA or Pearson Edexcel. This ensures that the course syllabus has been designed to properly prepare you for the exam and that the materials you receive are of high quality.
The next thing you’ll need to find out is whether the course comes with a personal Biology tutor that can be on hand to help when you run into difficulty. Having someone on hand to explain problems to you when needed can be the difference between giving up and getting that all-important pass.
Take note of the other support on offer too, such as student forums, practice tests, and mock exams. You should compare what each provider offers and make sure you get the most for your money.
The final thing to consider is the structure of the course. Some providers will only allow you to enrol at set times of the year or insist that you log a set amount of study hours per week. Other providers (like us!) take a much more flexible approach that will encourage you to set your own schedule and work at your own pace. This ensures that your learning shapes around your busy lifestyle and not the other way around.
Start planning your studies
Start as you mean to go on with a clear plan for your studies. Getting organised soon after you enrol will boost your motivation and keep you focused on the journey ahead.
The first thing to do is pick a good study spot. As you’re studying online, you’ll need to make sure your space has a reliable Wi-Fi connection. You should also choose somewhere that doesn’t have too many distractions so that you can fully concentrate on the task at hand. This might be a home office, the library, or even in your backyard if the weather permits.
Next you'll want to create your study plan. If you start off with a clear plan, you’re much more likely to stay on track. The great thing about studying GCSE Biology online as opposed to in a classroom is that you’re not restricted to a set class timetable, so you can work through the course as quickly or as slowly as you want.
Remember to be realistic about what you can achieve. Setting yourself impossible targets is just setting yourself up to fail, so make sure you're strategic with the time you have at your disposal.
Use past papers to get exam ready
Past papers are a vital part of your revision as they let you get a feel for the format of the paper, practice your timing and spot gaps in your knowledge.
Which papers you’ll need will depend on which awarding body the course you’ve opted to study is accredited by, so make sure you’re using the right papers.
If you’re sitting the Pearson Edexcel IGCSE Biology exam, for example, you’ll sit 2 written exam papers. You’ll be given 2 hours to complete Paper 1 and 1 hour 15 mins to complete Paper 2.
Both papers will be made up of a mixture of different question styles, including multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions, calculations, and extended open-response questions.
When using your past papers, you should try putting away your study notes and time yourself like you’re really in the exam. This way you’ll get timing practice and learn which areas you’re struggling with and you can ask your tutor to help.
Book your exam
Even though you can study 100% online, you’ll still need to sit your exam in person. GCSE and IGCSE exams are nationally set, so you’ll sit your exam at the same time as all the other students in the UK.
Biology exams are usually in June, though have been cancelled for June 2021 due to circumstances related to coronavirus. If you’ve chosen an IGCSE course, however, you should be able to sit the exam in January.
We highly recommend you choose your exam centre and book your exam about 6 months in advance of your chosen exam date to secure your place.
Exam centres are usually schools or colleges that are already presenting their own students for the exam. If you’re sitting an Edexcel exam, you can use this search tool to find exam centres near you; however, this won’t cover every centre, so we recommend getting in touch with local schools and colleges to check if they accept private candidates.
Keep in mind, if you have a special relationship with a school, such as it being your old school or your child’s school, they might accept you even if their policy is against private candidates.
You should be aware that there’s a fee to sit the exam which you’ll pay directly to the exam centre. The exact cost of this will vary depending on which centre you chose.
Once you’ve resat your exam, all that’s left to do is to sit back and impatiently await your results!
Are you ready to retake GCSE Biology? Find out more about our flexible online IGCSE Biology course with unlimited one on one tutor support.
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