Specification - OCR A Level in Biology A (H420)

This new, linear A level course is studied from September 2015 to June 2017 and is assessed terminally by way of three written exam papers.

Formal coursework has been replaced by a non-examined Practical Endorsement, which is assessed internally and reported separately on the exam certificate as a Pass or Fail. Learners complete a minimum of 12 assessed experiments covering the technical skills outlined in the specification. Students will be required to keep a record of their practical assessments throughout the course.

Further details of the course specifications can be found by visiting this link:
Biology (A) A level Specification from 2015

Students will follow the full 2 year A level course, however details of the alternative AS course (H020) can be viewed by following this link. The specification is set out to enable students to take the AS exams at the end of year 12, however they have a slightly different format and do not count towards the full A level.
Biology (A) AS Level Specification from 2015

A Level Lessons

Students have 6 periods of biology each week which is taught by two specialist biology teachers. Highly interactive lessons include a wide range of teaching styles including theory, practical work, discussion, exam practice, and independent study. Students are supported throughout the course to help them acquire the necessary knowledge and skills with emphasis placed upon developing independent learning through home and class work. Regular assessment, monitoring and feedback will ensure that students remain on track to achieve their potential.

An overview of how the course is organised throughout the year can be found in the
Year 12 Topic Planner.

UCAS Predicted Grades

Biology is one of the first subjects to have moved to the linear format meaning that assessment will be at the end of 2 years with no AS exams at the end of year 12. It must be stressed that the unit tests and end of year exam will play a central role in determining predicted grades for the UCAS applications in the following Autumn. It is essential that all students maintain the correct balance with all their subjects, to ensure that they achieve a good predicted grade.


Students are offered the opportunity to participate in a range of enrichment activities including BAYS lectures by prominent scientists, university visits and workshops, voluntary dissection and fieldwork.

Text Books

Students will need to refer to the OCR text book. Students purchasing this text book will be able to take advantage of full access to an online version which can be viewed on many different devices. Many students find a revision guide useful, as they are currently being revised by publishers to reflect the new A level format, we will update our recommendations as soon as all the alternatives become available for us to review.

Recommended Textbook

This book covers the whole 2 year course content.
By Ann Fullick, Jo Locke, and Paul Bircher
ISBN: 978-0-19-835192-4