Biology of an exam
This package of SQA past papers with the official answers will be an invaluable revision aid for Intermediate 1 biology candidates. (Leckie amp; Leckie has also produced similar sets for Intermediate 2, Standard grade and Higher students.) It provides essential experience of completing questions at a level and standard expected in the exam and regarding the time allocation for completing the papers. Even the colour of the past papers is what candidates can expect.
The SQA answers provided illustrate the response examiners are looking for and alone offer an excellent revision source. Having the answer sheet as a pull-out booklet lets the user mark completed papers with ease, allowing the questions, official answers and the candidate's responses to be viewed at the same time.
Being a marker for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, I am aware of common notations used in the marking schemes and their importance. For example, underlined words indicate those that must be included in the answer to obtain the marks allocated. This could have been conveyed in the booklet of official answers, emphasising what students have to include and helping their revision.
Ten study aids are noted inside the front cover, though most of the techniques would be covered in class. What would be an excellent aid is to include responses that are not acceptable and answers that are commonly provided but are incorrect. This would help steer exam candidates towards correct and acceptable responses.
It is, overall, a good study and revision aid. The only drawback, in my opinion, is the cost. The final package is glossy; if it were in booklet form with less gloss it might reduce the price. Many school departments have past papers available to students free.
Duncan McColl is head of biology at Dalbeattie High, Dumfries and Galloway