The format of the exam
The National 5 Biology exam has one externally assessed question paper worth 100 marks.
Section 1– 25 multiple-choice questions (25 marks)
Section 2– structured and extended response questions(75 marks)
Candidates have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the question paper.
In Section 2 of the exam paper you will be asked a maximum of two extended writing questions of 3–5 marks and at least one question based on scientific literacy. ‘A’ type questions make up approximately 30% of the whole paper.
The total available marks for the National 5 Biology exam is 100 marks. This is worth 80% of the total marks for external assessment.
What is being assessed?
- approximately 70 marks are from your knowledge and understanding
- approximately 30 marks are from skills based questions
The majority of marks are awarded for demonstrating and applying your knowledge and understanding. The other marks are awarded for:
- applying scientific inquiry
- scientific analytical thinking
- problem-solving skills
- the impact of applications of biology on society and the environment.
Marks are distributed proportionally across the 3 main areas of course content:
- Cell biology
- Biology: multicellular organisms
- Biology: life on Earth
Candidates must also have knowledge of key apparatus and be familiar with particular techniques(see revision guide).
The following knowledge and understanding and skills will be assessed: (taken from SQA appendix 2 question paper brief).
- demonstrating knowledge and understanding of biology by making statements, describing information, providing explanations and integrating knowledge.
- applying knowledge and understanding of biology to new situations, interpreting information and solving problems.
- planning and designing experimental/fieldwork investigations to test given hypotheses or to illustrate particular effects.
- selecting information from a variety of sources.
- presenting information appropriately in a variety of forms.
- processing information using calculations and units, where appropriate.
- making predictions and generalisations based on evidence/information.
- drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification.
- suggesting improvements to experimental/fieldwork investigations.