All students take three separate science GCSEs. In biology we follow the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) specification. This two-year course is a thorough, high-level, traditional biology course, well-suited to the students at Heckmondwike Grammar School.


What will it be like?

The course includes a comprehensive coverage of modern biology, including biochemistry, cell biology, human physiology, plant biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and biotechnology. All of these topics lend themselves to practical work, and students will experience a wide range of practical activities.

The GCSE course also places great weight on working scientifically, which is assessed by questions in the terminal exams. Lessons therefore include interesting and adventurous investigative work, aimed at developing the skills of scientific enquiry. Biology is a quantitative science and 10% of the exam marks will be for maths and data analysis questions.


Assessment is in the form of two exam papers (1hour 45min each) at the end of the GCSE course in Y11. The two papers test the following topics:

Paper 1

  • Overarching concepts in biology
  • Cells and control
  • Genetics
  • Natural selection and genetic modification
  • Health, disease and medicines

Paper 2

  • Overarching concepts in biology
  • Plant structures and their functions coordination, control and homeostasis
  • Exchange and transport in animals
  • Ecosystems and material cycles

Students will be awarded grades on the 9-1 scale. We expect most of our students to achieve grades 7, 8 or 9.