A “Short” Guide on Your BC Provincial Exams

Biology 12 Provincial Exam

Note: this guide was written for the 2004-2005 provincial exams and will not be updated.

Biology 12 is one of the three big science courses offered in the BC curriculum and is probably one of the courses you’ll have to take if you want to go into a science program in university so you can become a doctor, a vet, or maybe even a biologist.

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Course Description
Course Analysis and Tips
Exam Overview
Exam Analysis and Tips

Course Description
Biology itself is a pretty broad subject that includes a large amount of topics. Biology 12, however, is a narrowed-down course that focuses mostly on human biology. Of course this course is nowhere as specific as a university level biology course, but it is more specific than Biology 11, which is basically a simple overview of biology. Because of the large difference in subject between Biology 11 and 12, a student doesn’t need to take Biology 11 in order to take Biology 12. Below are the things I’ve been taught in Biology 12 during the 2004/2005 school year:

Biological Molecules: You’ll learn about the basic molecules of life, such as carbohydrates, proteins etc. in this section. You’ll learn about their structures and functions.

Cell Structures and Functions: You’ll learn about cell organelles and their functions in this section. You’ll also learn about diffusion, osmosis and other forms of cellular transport.

DNA, RNA and Related Processes: This section teaches about how DNA and RNA are and what they do. You’ll also learn about protein synthesis in this part.

Enzymes: You’ll learn about the importance of enzymes!!!

Cancer: This section is not part of the provincial exam any more, but some teachers feel that it’s an important subject and still teach this part.

Tissues: You’ll learn about the different kind of tissues that make up your body.

Human Digestive System: This section teaches you about how the body changes wonderful food into stinky poo and the organs involved.

Human Circulatory System: This section contains the heart, the blood, the lymph system, the immune system and clotting.

Human Excretory System: You’ll learn about how and why your body makes pee. This section mostly studies the kidneys.

Human Respiratory System: In this section you’ll learn about the mechanism of breathing and gas exchange.

Human Nervous System: This section covers the brain, the spinal cord, other nervous tissues, and how nerve impulses are generated and transmitted.

Human Reproductive System: The section which a lot of guys look forward to. You’ll learn about those things between your legs and se… uh… how babies are made.

The course sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it? Well, like all courses, whether or not biology is exiting or boring to you depends upon your interests and the skills of your instructor. Thankfully, my bio teacher was fairly good at making the class less mundane and hopefully your teacher will make the course exciting as well.

A typical class of Biology 12 involves going over notes and stuff in the textbook. Like all the other science courses, there will be a fair bit of homework, and plenty of tests and exams. I didn’t get many creative assignments (ex. projects) in Biology 12, but your instructor will probably be different. There are a fair bit of labs in Biology 12 and there will be a least a few dissection labs, or else it wouldn’t be biology. Some of the preserved animals smell really bad, and might make some of you nauseous. If your goal in life is to become a surgeon, this will be one of your first opportunities to prove your worth.

Course Analysis and Tips
From what I’ve gathered, the number 1 reason why people take Biology 12 is because it’s pretty much a required course for going into a science program at university, especially if one wants to become a doctor in the future. Most people also think that biology is a bit easier than the other two science courses, Chemistry 12 and Physics 12. I can’t state that Biology will be easier or harder for you, because different people tend to learn differently and have different strengths and weaknesses and you are probably different from me in at least some aspects. I can tell you, however, the trick to succeeding in Biology 12. If you manage to master this trick, then you’ll have no problem getting a high mark in the course and the exam. So what’s the secret? Two words:

Memorize everything

That sounds pretty simple, but many of you may say that it is easier said than done. It all depends on how well you can memorize things. The fact is that Biology 12 is a purely knowledge based course. If you know everything or most of the things there is to know about in this course, then you’ll definitely get an A. There is barely any application and no calculation at all involved in this course. For people with good memory, this doesn’t mean that you can just read everything once and then slack off, unless you are the type of people who have godly memory. In that case, you probably don’t need to read this guide anyways. For the more regular people with good memory, the fact that biology is all about remembering stuff means that you’ll probably have an easier time with this course. If you pay attention in class, do your homework and review for your tests and exams, you’ll get a good mark. I was blessed with pretty good memory, so the above is pretty much what I did. I got a good mark on the course and found Biology 12 to be the easiest of the three science courses. For those of you who don’t have good memory, the situation is not hopeless. This just means that you’ll have to work a bit harder than some people, but if you work hard to do the best you can, you’ll still be able to achieve a satisfying mark. The only way you’ll fail this course or any other courses here for a matter of fact, is if you don’t put any effort into the course. Here are some pointers for you people who don’t find memorization very easy. These techniques may be helpful even if you do have good memory.

1. Review the materials you’ve learned regularly. Biology 12 does cover quite a few topics and there are a lot of things that you need to memorize. Take like two hours every week to look back at the older stuff you have learned. You don’t have to stick to my suggestion. Take as much or as little time for review as you want, but looking back at the old stuff will prevent you from forgetting them.

2. If you truly have trouble remembering stuff or want to remember things more efficiently, you should do some research into memorization techniques. I never used any such techniques myself, so I can’t really tell you how effective they really are. There are lots techniques out there so it’s likely that you will find one that you’ll like.

Exam Overview
My Biology 12 Provincial Exams consisted of two sections. The first section is made up of around 60 multiple choice questions. The second section is made up of a number (mostly 6 to 8 ) of short answer questions that are worth a total of approximately 30 marks. The exam is out of a total of around 90 marks and is designed to be completed in two hours. Of course like all provincials, you may take another 30 minutes to finish. Visit the Ministry’s website for official exam specifications.

Exam Analysis and Tips
Like the course itself, the Biology 12 exam tests only your knowledge on the subject. The exam covers everything you will learn or have learned in the course, so you better take a good look at all your materials before going to the exam. In the case of biology, your best resources for review are the notes your teacher gives you. If your teacher doesn’t give notes, then try to take some notes yourself. The textbook is helpful but well-made notes can cover everything in the textbook and then some, and the notes take less time to read. If you are really starved of notes, here is a website with some pre-made notes that covers everything you can learn in Biology 12. Again, the biggest factor that determines your results for this exam is how well you can remember the terms and processes from the course. If you remember everything of most of the things, then the exam is a piece of cake. If you don’t remember too well, then be prepared to study and practice harder or lose a few marks on the exam.

The best way for you to practice for the Biology 12 exam is to download some old exams and do them. Try to time yourself when practicing to see how long you are taking to finish the exam. Since the bio exam is the kind where there is usually only one right answer or one set of right answers for a given question, you can easily mark yourself and rate your performance. Look at what you did wrong and analyze why you committed the error. Even though these are practice exams, you should try not to look the answers until you have finished at least one of the two main sections. Biology 12 is also one of the courses covered by quizmeBC, which provides free online quizzes made up of old provincial multiple choice questions that you can use for practice.

As you have read from the exam overview, the Biology 12 exam is made up of two sections: one section of M/C and one section of short answers. I know that 60 multiple choice questions can seem pretty intimidating, but if you have prepared properly for the exam, then you should be able to fly through them fairly quickly. Most of the multiple choice questions are just straight on knowledge questions, but there are a few tricky ones here and there that require a little thought, so make sure you take the time to read the complete question before putting down the answer. You also shouldn’t take too long on one M/C question. If you can’t decide on an answer after two minutes, skip the question and go on to the next one. You can come back to the question later when you finish all the other sections. The last thing about M/Cs is that don’t leave any questions blank. Remember that you have a 25% chance of guessing the correct answer and that there are no penalties for putting down a wrong answer. If you leave the question blank, then you’ll have a 0% chance of getting it right.

The short answer section is pretty similar to the M/Cs in terms of the topics, but most of the questions here have a set of correct answers. Read the question carefully before putting down answers. The rule of thumb for short answer questions is that you put at the least as many answers as the number of marks the questions are worth. For example, if a question is out of 4 marks, you should try to come up with at least four points to answer the question. Of course, this rule may not apply to every short answer question, but most of the questions in the section are marked according to this rule. Like the M/C section, there are some questions in the short answer section that require a little thinking, such as questions that ask how one part of the body can affect another part fo the body blah blah blah. Take a little more time on these questions to think things through. Even the hardest problem on the exam isn’t difficult if you know your stuff. Other than that, make sure that your writing is clear and legible, and also try to use proper grammar for your answers.

With good time management and preparation, 2 hours is more than enough time for you to finish the bio exam. I left the exam room after an hour and fourty minutes, and that included checking the whole exam over again. There were quite a few people who left before I did. Because I studied a lot and was also fairly good at biology, I got a pretty good mark on the exam. My bio exam score actually is tied for my highest score out of all my exams. The Biology 12 exam isn’t really that difficult, especially if you study well and pay attention to the questions. It is not uncommon for students to get 95% plus on this exam and hopefully you’ll get a score that you are proud of.

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7 thoughts to “A “Short” Guide on Your BC Provincial Exams”

  1. I’m surprised how you said that the English 12 exam was the hardest and yet you still said you “escaped” with an A… Does this mean you got around 90+ on the exam or somewhere on the high 80s?

    I recently did the English 12 exam and came out with a score of 87. And quite frankly it was the multiple choice that seemed harder than writing. But I guess I’m just “one of those people” who you state like writing.

  2. Good job on the exam. I got 90% on my exam a couple of years ago. It’s different for everybody, but I thought English was the hardest of my provincials. I’m one of the those math and science nerds you see, so English has never been my strongest subject.

  3. Hey, about the the fact that the exam is impossible ace… last year, a kid in my town aced the exam. He scored 100%, and I thought to myself “Why would they publish this in the newspaper?” I now know why.

  4. dude this was a very good guide, thank you for all your free time to do this,heh… i am also a firm believer in the “less you expect” school of thought haha…

    i just looked on the internet for some last minute advice, my exam is tomorrow.

    one thing i will say is that reading really does help oneself with with improving their style and what not. unfortunately, i have not read in the past semester. so we shall see how things go…

    and again, this was really quite a marvelous essay, it had humor and wit and has put me in a much better mood.

    needless to say if you were a chick i would be hitting on you… i think that sums up my admiration…

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