Stressing out about conducting an experiment or completing a research paper in biology can be fueled by a lack of preparation and information on how to structure your essay.

Here are a few tips and tricks on the different kind of formats you'll be expected to write about at the high school level as well as some resources you can check out if you're feeling stuck.

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The study of life done outdoors can help you with your exams (Photo credit: Ak N Cakiner via Unplash)

High School Biology in a Nutshell

Biology courses at the high school level can be difficult no matter how diligent the student. With concepts like immunology, genomics, and biotechnology – biological science is actually a diverse and highly innovative field.

However, as with any school subject, the excitement of the biological sciences might dull in the face of tasks like research and exam papers. If you’re having some difficulty starting your paper or drafting ideas to practice for standardized exam essays, revising the concepts you’ve learned about in your biology class can be a great starting point.

Learning about biology in a structured classroom has many advantages, but one area which can often be neglected is that of history. While your biology department at school may focus on embedding the foundations of general biology into the curriculum, the aspects that will probably help you start your paper can lie in the origins of the field of biology.

With specializations in the field like molecular biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology – it can almost seem as if biology is and always was at the cutting edge of science.

Because of this, concepts revolving around organismal structure and function or the ecology and evolution of living organisms can seem too contemporary and technology-based to be approachable.

Unfortunately, with all the recent developments in information on climate change, the concepts that once seemed to only matter to a biologist are now becoming everyday concerns. Understanding that everything from cell biology to conservation biology plays a heavy role in us and our environment, take a look at some of the concepts within the three branches of biology you’ve most likely touched upon in your biology course.


You don’t exactly have to be a biology major in order to guess that microbiology deals with everything small. Understandably, this is the youngest branch in the field, with many scholars referencing the 17th century as its earliest start date. Because this branch strives to understand microorganisms, most of the work in this field is done in a biology lab. Here are some of the concepts you can review and reflect upon relating to this branch:

  • Population genetics
  • Organismal biology
  • Cell structure
  • Genomics
  • Genetics and heredity
  • DNA and recombinant DNA
  • Nucleic acids


This branch is one of the most important pillars when it comes to the principles of biology, whose name means the study of animals. This field can range from studying animal behavior to classifying animals using terms like vertebrate or Mammalia.

While many people tend to think of concepts involving cellular biology and biophysics when they think about the field, zoology proves that much of the tools and medicines we use today are based on the knowledge in this branch. Here are some of the concepts you’ve probably encountered from this segment of biology:

  • Organ systems
  • Homeostasis
  • Human biology and human physiology
  • Taxonomy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Developmental biology
  • Environmental biology


Whereas general biology strives to cover the biological systems of living things, botany is the branch of biology that focuses specifically on the living systems of plants.

While an introduction to biology might give you a taste of the life of a botanist, it may not give you a full sense of how important the study of plants is to our economy. While this branch originally stemmed from striving to understand medicinal and dietary characteristics of plants, it has evolved into a field that touches everything from evolutionary biology to bioinformatics.

Here are some of the concepts taught from this branch:

  • Photosynthesis
  • Diversity of life
  • Plant Cell structure and function
  • Cellular respiration
  • Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells
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Getting advice or help from a graduate student can improve your understanding of biology class (Photo credit: Green Chameleon via Unplash)

Research Papers and Experiments for Biology Courses

Biology is one of those high school courses that can be a bit tricky to navigate simply because it is often included in standardized tests.

While students who want to pursue a biology degree or attain it as one of their minors often find learning and memorizing facts about cell division and organelles conducive to their future, there are many who simply take a biology course as part of their prerequisites.

Finding advice on what kind of topics to explore, whether it be for a simple write up or for a full-length research paper, can be difficult regardless of your motivation for studying biology. Here are some helpful resources and ideas you can tap into if you feel you need that extra push.

One of the best resources for exploring guides in a myriad of different subjects, including biology, is a website named PapersOwl. While they do offer services in writing research papers for money, they also have research paper writing guides for free on their website that is good for high schoolers and undergraduates alike.

Specifically, PapersOwl suggests writing papers in subjects like:

  • Cell Biology
  • Ecology
  • Marine Biology

The first step in writing your paper should be to understand the goal of the paper. Generally, papers in science are either written with or without an experiment, which will affect the way your paper should be structured.

For example, if no experiment is required and you simply need to write about a subject, you will need to heavily research your topic and write about it in a concise manner that engages with the conversation on your topic.

Papers that require an experiment will mean that you will follow a more scientific, research paper approach. Meaning, you will need to talk about past experiments, lay out your materials and methodology, and then talk about the conclusions reached about your experiment.

Types of Exam Papers for Biology

Now that you understand the basics of brainstorming and structuring your research paper, you should next try to acquire some examples from which you can base your paper on.

In order to do this, you’ll need to determine the audience of your biology paper. Here are some of the most common people or bodies that will be reviewing your research paper at the high school biology level.


If you’re taking biology merely as a prerequisite for graduating and need to understand how you'll be graded, whether you’re taking a normal biology course or an honor’s course, the biology-based papers you write will be most likely be in the form of write-ups or take-home essays.

If you’re interested in seeing examples of papers that have been written at the high school level, make sure to ask your teacher if there are any departmental papers they have kept. Another resource you can make sure to check out is for countless examples.


If you’re looking for more information on biology papers written with regards to the AP biology exam, it’ll be helpful to start by understanding the format of the exam. While the first section involves answering about 70 multiple choice questions in an hour and a half, the second section free-response based.

While you won’t have to write an essay, you will have to express your ideas in long-sentence form. The key to this section will be responding to the 2 long question and 4 short response questions in a concise, information-heavy manner. You can find examples of the free-response section on the College Board website.


If you’re pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma, you will need to complete research papers for each subject you take along with the IB exams at the end of the year. These research papers, while not needing any specific prerequisite, do need to build upon the knowledge you’ve learned in class.

The key to crafting the IB biology paper will be starting your experiment well in advance and preparing the structure and content of your paper thoroughly.

If you're surprised the SAT biology subject test isn't on here, it's because their exam is all multiple choice based.

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Studying at least once a week can help improve your memory concepts like body systems and macro-molecules (Photo credit: Lonely Planet via Unplash)

Biology Tutor for Exam and Term Papers

From microbes to nucleic acids, mastering all the key components to a field like biology isn’t easy. It can, however, be helped with the aid of a biology tutor. If you’re looking for a tutor that can help you score the grades you need on an exam, the best places to start looking are at your school or at your local library.

If you’re struggling to find a biology tutor that is willing to help you structure your research paper, looking online might be the solution.

With platforms like Superprof – which has a community of over 36,650 teaching biology – getting over your writer’s block can be as easy as clicking a button.

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