Leaving Cert Biology: An Overview

Biology is not a mandatory Leaving Cert subject, but it is something secondary students take if they want to study science in university or they pick it as their required science subject. Biology can be very intense because it’s a subject that requires rote memorisation.

The exam is on the afternoon of the first Tuesday of the exam period, after Irish Paper 2.

There is only one paper in the Biology Leaving Cert Exam. You have three hours to sit the exam and it’s worth 400 marks.

What’s on the exam?

There are three sections: A, B, and C.

In section A, there are six questions, but you only have to answer five of them. You can pick any of the five questions to answer.

In section B, there are three questions, but you only have to answer two of them. Again, you can pick any ones to answer.

In section C, there are six questions, but you only have to answer four of them. You should allow yourself the most time for this section.

What you should know:

  • About different organisms like bacteria, fungi, yeast, and plants
    • With plants, focus on reproduction, transport, responses, seed growth, photosynthesis, structure
  • The systems of the human body: Circulatory, Digestive, Hormonal, Musculoskeletal, Nervous, and Respiratory.
  • Food/Food tests: protein, haemoglobin, lipids, vitamins, and water.
  • About cells, DNA, genetics, and human reproduction
    • With cells:
  • Ecology and Ecosystems
  • Experiments

Tips for success:

  • Pace yourself, and allow yourself enough time.
  • Use your time wisely.
  • Don’t answer any extra questions because you won’t get any extra points. Answer the proper number of questions thoroughly.
  • Study everything. Anything can show up on the exam. Make sure not to cram because there is so much information that you can’t possibly cram it all last minute.
    • Build your foundation by knowing the general concepts, then move onto the more specific concepts.
    • Know terminology and know how complex terms break down and what the meanings of the root words are.
    • Use mnemonic devices, flow charts, diagrams, etc to help you get a better understanding.
    • Share notes with friends.
  • Look at previous exam papers. Practise is one of the best ways of studying.


Best of luck with your exams!

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