GCSE Past Papers : Biology

Biology GCSE Example Paper 1

Biology GCSE Example Paper 1

Biology GCSE Example Paper 1

  1. Plants that live in the desert are adapted to survive in a dry climate. How are these adaptations advantageous to plants living in the desert:
    1. a shallow root system spread out over a large area?
    2. bulb-like roots growing deep within the soil?
    3. leaves covered in a layer of wax?
  1. A group of students was asked to investigate a food chain in a small orchard.

The table below shows estimates of the population and biomass of three main organisms found in the orchard.


Number in orchard

Mean mass (g)

Biomass in population (g)












      1. Calculate the biomass of the apple population. Show clearly how you worked out your answer.
      2. Sketch a pyramid of biomass for the information in the table.
    1. Foxes eat mice. The biomass of the mice population is much lower than that of the fox population. Explain why.
  1. The human body contains approximately 80 million alveoli.
    1. Give three features of alveoli that make it good for gaseous exchange.
      1. Oxygen passes from the air into the blood. What is this process called?
      2. Large amounts of oxygen can enter the blood due to the process of breathing. Explain how breathing achieves this.
  1. Lichens are sensitive to sulfur dioxide levels in the air. They are used as indicators of how much air pollution there is in a particular area. Usually, air pollution is worse in towns and cities than in the countryside.

A group of environmentalists decided to investigate the relationship between the species of lichen

growing on trees and their distance from the centre of a town.

On a map they drew a transect line from the centre of the town into the countryside.

The marked out sites to examine every 250 metres.

At each site they examined the trees and walls to a height of 3 metres.

The table of their results is below.

Lichen species

Distance range from the town centre (km)


0 – 2


1 – 5


2 – 8


7 – 8

    1. How could the environmentalists have obtained more accurate results? Provide one way.
      1. Which lichen species was found over the shortest range?
      2. Which species grows in areas with the least pollution?
    2. One environmentalist stated: ‘You can see the amount of sulfur dioxide present in the air due to the amount of Lecanora growing.’

Provide two reasons why this conclusion is not valid.

      1. What organ in the body monitors the amount of glucose in the blood?
      2. Insulin prevents high amount of glucose in the blood. Describe how it does this.
    1. There are two types of diabetes.

People who have Type 1 diabetes produce only a little or no insulin.

People who have Type 2 diabetes contains cells that do not respond to insulin.

Connect the type of diabetes to the treatment.

Type 1 Attention to diet only

Type 2 Attention to diet and insulin injections

Insulin injections only

      1. Complete the sentence using one of the words provided below.

lipid protein carbohydrate

Insulin is a hormone and a type of ____________.

      1. Insulin is controlled by a small section of DNA. What is this small section of DNA called?


    1. Answers include:
      • water uptake increased
      • able to collect water over a larger surface area

Answers not accepted:

    • any reference to nutrients or food allowing for water to be taken up faster
  1. Answers include:
    • water can be stored
    • plant more stable
    • provides safety from predators

Answers not accepted:

    • water absorption from the soil
  1. Answers include:
    • water loss/evaporation is reduced
    • keeps the plant cool
    • heat is reflected

Answers not accepted:

    • light reflected
      1. 500 x 250 = 125000
      2. Remember you only need to sketch so it doesn’t have to be accurate. However, you need to use the figures from the biomass column.
    1. Check how many marks are awarded so that you know how many points to make. Answers include:
        • respiration by the fox which leads to carbon dioxide being lost
        • the fox excretes/produces faeces/produces urine
        • not all the mice are eaten by the foxes/some mice are eaten by other organisms

Answers not accepted:

        • any reference to size/mass/or the number of organisms
        • respiration doesn’t use or produce energy
        • some mice die
        • any reference to movement/heat/growth
    1. Answers include:
        • a large surface area
        • only once cell thick so it’s only as short distance from the air to the blood
        • they have a good blood supply due to the extensive capillary network

Answers not accepted:

        • moist surface
      1. Correct: diffusion

Incorrect: gaseous exchange is not acceptable

      1. Answers include:
        • more oxygen/air is brought into the lungs/alveoli which keeps the level of oxygen high in the alveoli
        • it maintains the concentration difference between the blood and the alveoli with the oxygen concentration in the alveoli higher than that in the blood
    1. Answers include:
        • use a shorter distance between each sample taken
        • take a sample of a greater height
        • specify how large each site is

Answers not accepted:

        • repeating the investigation
        • repeating measurements
        • using a longer transect
      1. Evernia
      2. Evernia
    1. Check the marks awarded for how many points you should give. Answers include:
        • Lecanora doesn’t grow along the whole of the transect orLecanora doesn’t grow in the town centre/countryside
        • Lecanora grows in a particular range of sulfur dioxide concentrations or Lecanora grows in a limited range of sulfur dioxide
        • Lecanora growth could be affected by other factors
        • the sulfur dioxide concentration wasn’t measured
        • the amount of Lecanora wasn’t measured
      1. Pancreas
      2. Correct answers:
        • it increases the movement of glucose into the cells/organs
        • it allows glucose to be converted into glycogen/fat

Incorrect answer: don’t use hybrid spellings of glycogen in your answer

    1. Only choose one answer

Type 1 – Attention to diet and insulin injections

Type 2 – Attention to diet only

      1. Protein
      2. Gene or allele

This the end of the paper – Well Done!

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