Your 28 Day HSC Biology Study Plan | Free Personal HSC Bootcamp Kit

It's never been more important than now to have a solid study plan. Make the most of this last month to pull up your Biology marks with our 28 day HSC Biology Study Plan.

Your 28 Day HSC biology Study Plan mobile

There’s no denying the fact that Biology is a content-heavy subject. If you want to get yourself HSC ready, you’ll need to really focus in this last month leading up to the exam. We’ve put together this 28-day HSC Biology study plan and study planning kit to help you with just that. Read this and the other Guides in the series and use the planner to get your study on track to ace your HSC.


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Here’s a quick breakdown of your 28 Day HSC Biology Study Plan:


Here is a sample calendar that you can base your studies on.

Ultimately, there’s a finite amount of time from now to when you have to do your HSC exam. That’s why you need to be decisive with how much time you spend preparing for your Biology exam and your other subjects. We go through how you can allocate time for all your subjects based on your confidence level and your internal ranking in our Overview: Get HSC Ready in 28 Days.

Note: Bolded activities will take approximately 3-5 hours, whereas unbolded activities should take approximately 30 minutes. These unbolded activities are supposed to be small additional activities that will help you further develop your Biology skills.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Read over the Biology syllabus

Review notes 

Familiarise yourself with the nature of the Biology exam

Write exam notes

Target weaknesses Review practical investigations Target weaknesses Review practical investigations Rest and Relaxation
Week 2 Review syllabus dot points and notes

Quiz yourself by going through past papers

Target weaknesses Review challenging questions  Work through past papers

Seek help on challenging questions

Study with friends

Week 3 2 x Practice paper (untimed, open-book)

Mark and review answers

Practise challenging questions and review 1 x Practice paper (exam conditions)

Mark and review answers

Practise challenging questions and mark 1 x Practice paper (exam conditions)

Mark and review answers

Week 4 1 x Past papers (exam conditions)

Review notes

Mark and review answers

1 x Past papers (exam conditions)

Review notes

Mark and review answers

Practise challenging questions and mark

Seek help

Review notes

Attempt and review challenging questions

1 x Past papers (exam conditions)

Review notes

Mark and review answers

1 x Past papers (exam conditions)

Review notes

Mark and review answers




Before Week 1: Housekeeping

Before you can even start planning your study timetable, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from this. This direction will be key to keeping you motivated.

  1. Figure out your goals. University. Degree. ATAR.
  2. Rate your subjects based on your ranks, confidence, and urgency (The reverse ATAR calculator will help you figure this out)
  3. Allocate your time
  4. Set your study subject goals
  5. Write your 28 day study timetable

We go through these steps in detail in our Overview of the 28 Day HSC Study Planner Guide.


Download your 28-day study planning kit, here!


Week 1: Preparation and notes

HSC Biology involves its fair share of content, so you need to make sure you’ve developed a strong understanding of all the syllabus dot points by the end of the first week.

You can’t afford to have any gaps in your knowledge walking into the exam. This is what you need to do:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the syllabus (15-30 minutes)
  2. Organise and review notes (15-30 minutes)
  3. Familiarise yourself with the exam (15-30 minutes)
  4. Write exam notes (60-120 minutes)
  5. Target weaknesses (60-120 minutes)
  6. Additional: Utilise visual cues in your notes


Back to top

Next section: Revision and Quiz


1. Familiarise yourself with the syllabus (15-30 minutes)

There’s a lot of content to sift through in Biology, but fortunately NESA’s Biology syllabus clearly lists out what theory content and practical investigations you can be examined on. Anything else, you can simply appreciate it for what it is.

Here’s a snippet:


For starters, you need to read through the syllabus and ensure that you’ve understand every single dot point and properly covered it in your notes.

In summary, you need to:

  1. Read through the syllabus
  2. Rate your confidence level for each dot point out of 5 (for Step 6)
  3. Cross check your study notes and/or exam notes to ensure that you have all the relevant content (Step 2 and Step 5)

You can find the syllabus here:


2. Organise and review notes (15 – 30 minutes)

Ideally, you are starting from a collection of Biology notes that you have been adding to throughout your HSC and Preliminary years.

Your notes should be a concise summary of the content mentioned under the syllabus dot points. Nothing more.

You might find it helpful to note down tricks that help you memorise things, easily forgettable information (e.g. mnemonics) and solutions to challenging questions (e.g. what was the marking criteria for that confusing 8 mark question?).

If you haven’t been writing these notes throughout the year, it’s not ideal, but it’s not all over! Instead, you will need to review your class notes and write exam notes (in Step 5)

So, let’s see how we can organise and review our Biology notes and/or class notes:

  1. Categorise your notes and worksheets based on the topics
  2. Carefully go through the syllabus dot points and add missing content and important notes
  3. Highlight key information (important stuff or things you are likely to forget)
  4. Read and understand examples for different question types for each topic
  5. Carefully review challenging questions (and work through them on a separate piece of paper if you have time)

A snippet from ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Year 12 Biology’

You’ll find that using tables and diagrams will help you concisely summarise large blocks of information and make it easy to read. Our Beginner’s Guide to Year 12 Biology is a great free resource that you can use to write effective notes.


3. Familiarise yourself with the exam (15-30 minutes)

It is important that you know what is included in the Biology exam paper and what are the rules you must follow.

  • Reading time: 5 minutes
    • You may look through the exam paper during this time, but you may not write or may any markings on the paper. You also cannot use your calculator or any other equipment during reading time.
  • Working time: 3 hours
    • This is the time when you can write on your paper and use any approved equipment you’ve brought into the exam room.
  • Equipment you are allowed to bring into the Biology HSC Exam Room:
    • Pens — you should write all your responses with black pen, except for diagrams which you can draw with pencil
    • Pencils
    • Ruler
    • NESA approved calculator: see the list of approved calculators here.
    • Highlighters
    • Clear pencil case (like this one)
    • Clear colourless water bottle (there must be no labels or writing on it)
    • Non-programmable watch
  • Exam structure
      • Section I: 20 marks
        • 20 multiple choice questions (4 different options: A, B, C, D)
        • Each question is worth one mark
        • Recommended time limit: 35 minutes
      • Section II: 80 marks
        • Several short answer and long response questions, which may be connected
        • The mark value of each question will be indicated
        • Recommended time limit: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Your exam should look similar to the 2020 HSC Biology Exam.

Papers from 2018 and earlier are based off the old syllabus, not the newest 2019 syllabus.

However, some content will still be relevant. Especially data processing questions.

So, you can still attempt past papers from 2018 and earlier, and skip over questions that aren’t tested in the new syllabus.

If you are unsure about whether a particular question is included in the new syllabus, you can ask your teachers or the Matrix Q&A Board if you are enrolled in any Matrix Biology course.


4. Write exam notes (60-120 minutes)

Exam notes are concise notes with all the important information and common mistakes you need to watch out for.

You can use your exam notes to memorise key information and rely on them when you are working through open book past papers.

These are the notes that you would want to be reading on the morning before your exam — simple and brief.

If you’ve kept your Biology notes short and to-the-point throughout the year, you won’t need to do much to turn them into exam notes!



5. Target weaknesses (60-120 minutes)

By now, you would be aware of some weaknesses and confusing areas as you went through the syllabus and your notes.

It’s crucial that you deal with these issues immediately so you have time to practice them!

Also, many Biology questions combine different concepts together. So, if you are lacking in one area, this may jeopardise your ability to fully answer a whole range of questions.

This is how you can identify your weaknesses:

  1. Rate your confidence level for each syllabus dot point (should already be completed in Step 1)
  2. Identify common errors in past assessment and exam papers
  3. Identify confusing or unclear areas from your notes

Once you’ve figured these weaknesses, you need to:

  1. Seek help from your teachers! Send them an email or meet them at school!
  2. Read through sample solutions from past papers or class examples
  3. Review your textbook’s explanation and sample examples
  4. Seek help from friends who are confident in that topic
  5. Practise what you’ve learned with past papers!


6. Additional: Utilise visual cues in your notes

It can be pretty boring staring at a page of black and white text. So, use diagrams and colours to brighten things up! The best notes will use colours and pictures to clarify meaning — like in the screenshot below!

A snippet from the ‘Beginner’s Guide to Year 12 Biology’

Need more inspiration for your Biology notes? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Year 12 Biology.


Week 2: Revision and quiz

You’ve put in all the hard yards in Week 1 to learn the content, so make sure you consolidate your understand and put it to the test.

You should have already begun memorising theory content and reviewing examples last week. Now, we are finalising this and beginning to work through past papers

  1. Memorise and review content (15-30 minutes)
  2. Review challenging questions from class and previous assessments
  3. Quiz yourself by going through past papers
  4. Continue to target your weak areas
  5. Additional: Study with friends


Back to top

Next section: Past Papers


1. Memorise and review content (continue – 15-30 minutes)

At this point, you may not have memorised all your Biology content, but you most certainly should understand everything if given a bit of stimulus and prompting. If you are not at this level yet, you need to work hard to get there.

Often, students find doing questions that involves applying content they’ve learned helps them remember the theory content. Trying to memorise your notes by simply reading them over and over again is not the only way to learn, and certainly not the most effective.

Instead, try to do some practice questions, even if you need to refer to your notes!


2. Review challenging questions

Last week, you reviewed challenging questions by reading and understanding their solutions. This week, we will take this a step further.

You should:

  1. Identify challenging questions (these can be the same ones you reviewed last week or new ones you recently found)
  2. Attempt to answer these questions without looking at the solutions (It’s okay if you can’t. Just jump to Step 3)
  3. Carefully review the sample response and marking criteria
  4. If you got it incorrect or you feel unconfident, then try answering it again
  5. If you still do not completely understand anything, ask your school or Matrix teacher — they can also give you detailed feedback on your long responses!


3. Quiz yourself

This step is a quick test to see how well you remember the Biology content and your ability to apply it.

Don’t start stressing! We aren’t doing this under exam conditions.

So, to do this, you need to:

  1. Complete all questions in a practice paper without referring to your notes (you can select your past assessments or a previous HSC exam)
  2. Mark your work
  3. Carefully read the solutions to see what the markers are expecting
  4. Keep track of your errors

Ensure that you are always tracking your common mistakes so you can work on them!


4. Continue to target weak areas

When you continue to expose yourself to a wide variety of questions, you will find more weak areas.

Don’t neglect them. Work on them straight away!

So, continue to target these weak areas by using the methods we aforementioned:

  1. Ask your teachers
  2. Read through solutions
  3. Review textbook and notes
  4. Seek help from friends
  5. Continue practising


Additional: Study with friends

Remember, your HSC journey is not supposed to be a lonely one! You have your friends who are on the same journey as you!

So, take advantage of this and work with your friends to improve your Biology marks together!

You can call or meet up with your friends and:

  • Teach each other complex ph concepts
  • Seek help for your weaker areas
  • Help your friend with their weaker areas
  • Work through challenging questions together

Teaching others is one of the best ways to learn. This is because teaching involves explaining a concept clearly and concisely to someone else . It ultimately tests your understanding of the concept, especially if you are asked to clarify further or underlying questions.

If you are struggling to explain a concept, then that means that you need to go back and review your notes.

You can extend your understanding of your content, especially when you friend asks you challenging questions.



Week 3: Practice papers, practice papers, practice papers

Now that we’ve revised and targeted our weaknesses, it is time to complete some practice papers! Remember to take note of any questions that you find challenging so that you can review it in the future. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your Matrix Biology teacher to provide feedback on any long responses that you’ve written.

  1. Practice papers under exam conditions
  2. Practice paper open book
  3. Work on challenging questions
  4. Seek help

Back to top

Next section: Revision and Past Papers

This is a rough guide of what you should aim to complete in a week:

Biology Paper
  • 1-2 Past papers under exam condition
  • 2-3 Past papers in your own time, open-book

Feel free to do more Biology practice papers if you feel like you need the practice.


1. Practice papers under exam conditions

Exams are stressful, which is why you need to prepare yourself for them by simulating exam conditions. If you want to get a mark that truly reflects your abilities, you will need to learn to cope with exam conditions and you can do that with practice papers.

Completing past papers under exam condition will help you deal with exam stress and develop your exam-taking skills.

Some benefits of this includes:

  • Developing time management strategies
  • Testing your memory of important formulas and rules
  • Improve ability to deal with stress
  • Improve ability to apply knowledge and think on the spot
  • Developing exam-taking tricks (eg. Skipping and flagging challenging questions to return to later)

So, let’s see what ‘exam-conditions’ mean:

  • Closed book (i.e. no notes or formulas)
  • Timed conditions (5 mins reading time, 3 hours working time)
  • Only used NESA approved calculators and equipment
  • No phones, electronics of any other distractions
  • Quiet and work-friendly environment
  • Tell your family and friends to not disturb you for the duration of the ‘exam’
  • Treat it like a HSC exam

If you are low on time, then you can break up some exams into 1 hour or 1.5 hour sessions. However, it’s important to complete at least 3 of them in full under strict exam conditions! This is the only way to prepare for the challenges of the actual exam.


2. Practice paper open book

Open book past papers are also highly beneficial to do too! Each has their own different advantages, so aim to complete a variety of the two.

Let’s see the benefits of open book exams:

  • Practice answering every question in an exam (instead of skipping questions because you ran out of time)
  • Learn how to properly and fully answer a question without rushing
  • Learn how to answer challenging questions by referring to notes or solutions (instead of skipping)
  • Spend more time working on challenging questions
  • Expose yourself to a wide variety of questions

So, how do we complete an open book exam?

  • No time limit or other restrictions (However, still try to keep distractions to a minimum and study in a work-friendly environment)
  • Refer to your notes if you forget any formulas (However, try to do this as minimal as possible to train your memory!)
  • Refer to the solutions or notes if you need help solving challenging questions
  • Seek help from friends or teachers if you still don’t understand the solution

Try to complete all the questions in your past papers. Treat this step as a learning opportunity to fine-tune and develop your Biology skills.

Once you’ve completed a significant amount of open book past-papers, then you can start skipping easy questions and focus on the intermediate and challenging questions.


3. Work on challenging questions

After working through a good amount of past papers, – both under exam conditions and open book – you should start to solely focus on challenging questions. Often time, this includes writing long responses to questions worth up to 10 marks

These are usually question types that you tend to answer incorrectly, or questions that tests your most unconfident subjects.

To do this, you should:

  1. Scan through past papers to find challenging questions
  2. Work through questions that you previously answered incorrectly
  3. Go through challenging class or textbook example.

Always remember to mark your work and seek help if you need it!


4. Seek help

It is very important that you are continually targetting your issues and weaknesses.

If you are unable to understand the provided solution and explanation, then seek help!

Ask your friends who are confident in the topic, your school teachers and your Matrix teachers. Remember to be polite when asking.



Week 4: Past papers and revision

There’s one week left before your HSC exams! We will be doing more past papers to acquaint you to a wide variety of questions and quickly revising over all your formulas, so you they are all fresh in your mind!

  1. Past papers under exam conditions
  2. Work on challenging questions
  3. Review and memorise formulas
  4. Chill out

Back to top


1. Past papers under exam conditions

Even if you don’t feel 100% ready to do a practice paper under exam conditions, it’s important that you push yourself to do it! It’s all for practice after all, so don’t be stressed out by what you might score, but rather, appreciate what you might learn from this. You will be surprised how much you actually remember!


2. Work on challenging questions

Doing past papers is great practice, but it can be very time-consuming — Biology exams are 3 hours long!

At the pointy end of your exam preparation, you may find that there’s not enough time to do all practice papers. So, it can be particularly time-saving to pick out challenging questions from practice papers to save you from spending hours doing the whole thing, while still ensuring that you continue to learn.

In saying that, it’s important to also develop your exam technique by doing some full practice papers. Long story short, do some full practice papers under exam conditions and pick out challenging questions from the rest!


3. Review content

There’s no point in doing heaps of practice questions if you aren’t going to look back and learn from your mistakes. That’s why you should make a point to revisit interesting or challenge questions.

The more you put your knowledge to the test with practice papers, the easier the content will become to remember. However, there will be some small details, like examples accompanying your long response arguments, or complex concepts that you need to regular revisit in your notes to make sure your memory of it stays fresh.

Use as much time as you need to review the content in your notes. Most students find that a few hours every couple of days is enough.



4. Chill out

You are working super hard, so it’s important to take a break sometimes! Chill out, chat to friends and family, and get out for some fresh air. Trust us, it will maximise your productivity and help you procrastinate less!


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