Ballyclare High School pupil Gillian McCloy scored the highest mark in Northern Ireland in GCSE biology last year.
With 10 A* and an A at GCSE level, there were many avenues of study open to her. She chose biology, chemistry, maths and art to study for ‘A’ Level. Gillian found out quickly that she preferred physics so took the decision to drop biology. It was after this that she got the news that she had achieved the top GSCE mark in the subject!
She is hoping to study physics at Oxford with a view to working in the astrophysical field someday. With this in mind Gillian spends a lot of her spare time sketching and studying the night skies and she is more than happy with her subject choices as each plays an important role in astronomy.
Gillian commented; “I was really surprised when I got the news about my result and obviously, delighted!
“I think I did so well because I tried to make studying fun. I tried a few different techniques and my sister, a doctor, helped a lot. I found reading notes and then saying them aloud helped make the information stick. I also play guitar so enjoyed making up songs and rhymes to help me remember scientific formulas!
“My favourite place to revise was my bedroom with peace and quiet to hear myself think. I started studying at Easter, taking a different subject each day, depending on my mood. I didn’t stick to a timetable but I know this works for some people.”
Gillian’s top GSCE biology revision tips:
1 – Make revision fun so you don’t dread it. I still remember my songs and rhymes!
2 – Visit the exam board’s website. Go through past papers and look for recurring questions. This helped me understand how biology papers are marked and what examiners want to see.
4 – The Internet is a great resource but don’t get distracted by facebook! I ‘googled’ lots of terms and definitions.
5 – It can help to study with a friend – I found it easier to recall ‘study’ conversations than notes.
3 – Read ‘around’ the subject as there is usually a ‘surprise’ biology question. Last year it was on breast milk which we hadn’t studied in class!
Good luck everyone!