How do people revise for an ISA in general??

  • 1 vote

Anybody with an A in their ISA please please answer!! How do you revise for an ISA? I have tried past papers which don't really help.

My teacher doesn't really tell anything either apart from the title so that tres helpful. What should I be doing

Posted Sun 17th February, 2013 @ 18:07 by blueberrifantom

10 Answers

  • 11 votes

Definately know the topic, and key words. A-level biology ISAs are the worst! Pick up any kind of clues of what it will be about from your teacher. It is very difficult to understand what the question requires sometimes, so do look at past examples if you can find them, and key phrases in the text book.

For ISAs involving microscopes, look up what particular features of the organ look like, by eye, under a light microscope, under an electron microscope. Especially under a light microscope! Learn the difference between similar looking features. They will ask you about them!

Make sure you know how to draw bar charts, line graphs, tables, histograms that kind of thing.. Believe me, the mark schemes are so picky it is so hard not to lose a mark on a simple table or graph!

My teacher gives out sheets with all the things you need to do or know for ISAs in general, i dont know where you get them, look online or ask your teacher! These are very helpful

Nag your teacher for a preparation lesson, some give them, some don't, but it is a big advantage to have them as the teacher has already seen the ISA. They won't tell you what's on it, but they will go through the types of questions that will come up.

Some key points I remember (mainly because I so often forget them in ISAs) are:


  • Always put your data in the table to the same decimal place  even 0 has to be 0.0 if to 1 d.p. and your averages/ calculations to the same decimal place or one decimal place more.  
  • Always remember to put units in everything apart from the data in the table as the units should be in the headings.
  • In general always remember to put units down correctly, if you are talking about moles per a litre/ moldm-3, don't put dm-3 and miss out the word mol
  • Give data quotes with units in all questions that ask you to use your tables/graphs!


  • Label your x and y axis on graphs with units, and correct headings from the table.
  • All points have to be dots not Xs unless it specifies to label something with an X in the paper. Other points relating to other catorgaries can be squares or triangles (i think) Make a key to label them!
  • The bars on bar charts cannot touch! and must have equal intervals!
  • The numbers on the x axis must be at equal intervals and the numbers on the y axis must be at equal intervals.
  • The line of best fit normally has to go through the origin and never goes past the last point
  • It can be a curve or straight line so long as it looks appropriate.
  • The numbers on the axis really ought to start at zero, even though it may be difficult to get accuraccy.
  • Accuraccy generally has to be + or - half the smallest square on the graph paper

All graphs, drawings, and tables must cover over 50% of the available space and be drawn in pencil with a ruler.

  • The table cannot be open! It must have ruled lines in columns, rows, and all the way around the table to form a box.


  • Drawings have to be drawn with a continous line for each section, using a sharp pencil, no ruler, no overaps, no spaces in between sections as these indicate the original image has gaps containing nothing or cell membranes that overlap each other/itself
  • The drawings must take up at least half the available space!!!
  • Draw exactly the number of features the paper asks you to, if it says draw 3 particular cells, draw 3 of those cells!
  • Label at least 3 features, this time use a ruler. If the paper asks you to annotate your labels with descriptions, describe what the feature looks like, not what it does!
Answered Sun 9th March, 2014 @ 18:16 by Sophie
Edited by Sophie on Sun 9th March, 2014 @ 18:31
  • 5 votes

Look at the mark scheme online and what sort of things get you the marks for each question as normally the question papers for the ISAs are all pretty similar. Also when you're looking at the mark scheme see if they have any example answers because then you can check what you would have written against how they marked. Also try predicting the question and writing your own answers for those.

Answered Sun 24th February, 2013 @ 13:01 by Antonia Loizou
  • 2 votes

Most ISA's focus on "How Science Works" type questions, look through the appropriate sections in you textbook and pick out these application questions, also, look at past ISA papers for your exam board and look for exam techniques or repetitive questions. Sometimes I find background reading helps too, and make sure you look at relevant experiments conducted on the topic you are given, you never know if it might be the experiment that comes up in the exam. :) Hope this helps :)

Answered Wed 13th March, 2013 @ 20:04 by Rosie
  • 2 votes

you could type in online what the hypothesis is and it would come up with the experiment. You will also need to know the Controlled Variab'e, Dependant Variable and the Independant variable.

Hope This Helps

Answered Tue 19th March, 2013 @ 14:51 by Aaron McNerlin
  • 1 vote

I got an A* in my Physics ISA by the way and i would just recommend knwoing exactly what you are going to have to write about and just make some notes on the topic in question in general like my physics one was about spring expansion and so i just wrote notes on anything i found in physics books from the library on anything to do with it and just answer calmly and just think they are common sense questions. Best of luck and if it doesnt go well you can always make up the marks in the exams :)  

Answered Wed 27th March, 2013 @ 20:52 by Yasmin
  • 0 votes

Make sure you know all of the key words. Work out what the control variable, independant variable and dependant variable are on the topic you're doing. Getting good marks on an isa is all about how you answer the questins. Make sure you read the questions carefully and give lots of detail. See if you can find a mark scheme online and look at what they want for each question. Revise your topic well, the more you know the easier it will be :) 

Answered Sat 20th April, 2013 @ 17:28 by Naomi Deller
Edited by Naomi Deller on Sat 20th April, 2013 @ 17:30
  • -1 votes

hi, i got a C in my ISA and i am resitting it in 2 days please i need help.

the hypotheis is 'The strength of a polymer ***** depends on the width of the polymer *****.’

please can you reply quickly!

Answered Sun 3rd May, 2015 @ 12:40 by RiverSong
  • -2 votes

Look at the title and work out in advance the variables and what sort of tables and graphs you might draw.

Learn the ISA keywords

Do past papers

Answered Sun 17th February, 2013 @ 18:59 by Tilly - Team GR
  • -2 votes

Just go on the AQA website :)

and look at the mark shceme!

Answered Wed 8th January, 2014 @ 21:25 by Anisa -Team GR
  • -9 votes

Pick through that chapter in the textbook and learn every sentance even if it sounds random - b/c they could ask you a really specific question and expect you to know it.

That's what me and my friend did for four ISAs and we both got high 'a's in all four.

Answered Sun 10th March, 2013 @ 10:25 by Sarah Green
Edited by Sarah Green on Sun 12th May, 2013 @ 15:06