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IB Biology (Higher Level) - Test Timing Strategy for 2025

Preparing for the IB Biology Higher Level exam can be daunting, especially with the new format being introduced in 2025. To help you navigate this, we've created a detailed test timing strategy to maximize your performance. This IB Biology test strategy will guide you on how to allocate your time effectively for each section of the exam.

student taking multiple choice exam

Paper 1 Format & Strategy

  • Duration: 2 hours

  • Weighting: 36%

  • Marks: 75


Paper 1 is presented as two separate booklets:


Paper 1A—40 marks

  • Content: 40 multiple-choice questions on standard level and additional higher level material.

  • Suggested Time Allocation: 50 minutes (approximately 1.25 minutes per question) and 10 minutes for review

  • Strategy:

    • Aim to spend around 1.25 minutes per question, leaving you with an additional 10 minutes at the end to review your answers.

    • Quickly read through each question and eliminate obviously incorrect options to narrow down your choices.

    • If you’re unsure about a question, make an educated guess and mark it for review later.


Paper 1B—35 marks

  • Content: Four (4) data-based questions related to experimental work and the syllabus.

  • Suggested Time Allocation: 1 hour (approximately 15 minutes per question)

  • Strategy:

    • Spend the first 2-3 minutes thoroughly reading each question and understanding the data provided.

    • Use the next 10-12 minutes to analyze the data and construct your answers.

    • Reserve the final 2-3 minutes for reviewing and refining your responses.


Paper 2 Format & Strategy

  • Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes

  • Weighting: 44%

  • Marks: 80


Section A (48 marks)


Data-based Question - 20 marks

  • Suggested Time Allocation: 30 minutes

  • Strategy:

    • Spend the first 5 minutes thoroughly reading the question and data provided.

    • Use the next 20 minutes to carefully analyze the data and construct your answers.

    • Reserve the final 5 minutes for reviewing and refining your responses.


Short-answer Questions (approximately 5-6 questions) - 28 marks

  • Suggested Time Allocation: 1 hour (approximately 10 minutes per question)

  • Strategy:

    • Dedicate around 2 minutes to understanding each question.

    • Spend 7 minutes writing your response, ensuring clarity and precision.

    • Use the remaining minute to review your answer and make necessary adjustments.


Section B (32 marks)


Extended-response Questions (2 out of 3 questions) - 32 marks

  • Suggested Time Allocation: 1 hour (30 minutes per question)

  • Strategy:

    • Allocate 5 minutes to planning your answer. Outline key points and structure your response.

    • Use 20 minutes to write a detailed and well-organized answer, integrating relevant biological concepts and examples.

    • Spend the final 5 minutes reviewing your work, checking for completeness and coherence.


Tips for Success

  • Practice Time Management: Use practice exams to simulate the actual test environment and refine your timing strategy.

  • Understand the Questions: Make sure you comprehend what each question is asking before you start writing.

  • Stay Calm and Focused: If you find yourself stuck, move on to the next question and come back if time allows.

  • Review Thoroughly: Ensure you leave time at the end of each section to review your answers and make any necessary corrections.


Effective time management is crucial for success in the IB Biology Higher Level exam. By following this timing strategy, you can approach the exam with confidence and ensure that you maximize your performance on test day. Good luck!

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