Candidates will be assumed to have knowledge and understanding of O-Level Biology, as a single subject or as part of a balanced science course.
The syllabus has been arranged in the form of Core and Extension content to be studied by all candidates. The syllabus places emphasis on the applications of biology and the impact of recent developments on the needs of contemporary society.
Experimental work is an important component and should underpin the teaching and learning of biology.
The value of learning H1 Biology ultimately hinges on the development of a scientific mind and disposition while addressing the broader questions of what life is and how life is sustained. The Science Curriculum Framework developed by the Ministry of Education elaborates on the development of the scientific mind and disposition. Through the study of the H1 Biology course, students should become scientifically literate citizens who are well prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.



The syllabus aims to:
1. provide students with an experience that develops their interest in biology and builds the knowledge,
skills and attitudes necessary for them to become scientifically literate citizens who are well prepared for
the challenges of the 21st century
2. develop in students the understanding, skills, ethics and attitudes relevant to the Practices of Science,
including the following:
2.1 understanding the nature of scientific knowledge
2.2 demonstrating science inquiry skills
2.3 relating science and society
3. address the broader questions of what life is and how life is sustained, including:
3.1 understanding life at the cellular and molecular levels, and making connections to how these
micro-systems interact at the physiological and organismal levels
3.2 recognising the evolving nature of biological knowledge
3.3 stimulating interest in and demonstrating care for the local and global environment.



Science as a discipline is more than the acquisition of a body of knowledge (e.g. scientific facts, concepts, laws and theories); it is a way of knowing and doing. It includes an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and how this knowledge is generated, established and communicated. Scientists rely on a set of
established procedures and practices associated with scientific inquiry to gather evidence and test their ideas on how the natural world works. However, there is no single method and the real process of science is often complex and iterative, following many different paths. While science is powerful, generating knowledge that forms the basis for many technological feats and innovations, it has limitations.

The Practices of Science are explicitly articulated in the syllabus to allow teachers to embed them as learning objectives in their lessons. Students’ understanding of the nature and limitations of science and scientific inquiry are developed effectively when the practices are taught in the context of relevant science content. Attitudes relevant to science such as inquisitiveness, concern for accuracy and precision, objectivity, integrity and perseverance should be emphasised in the teaching of these practices where appropriate. For example, students learning science should be introduced to the use of technology as an aid in practical work or as a tool for the interpretation of experimental and theoretical results.

The Practices of Science comprise three components:

  1. Understanding the Nature of Scientific Knowledge
    1.1 Understand that science is an evidence-based, model-building enterprise concerned with the natural world
    1.2 Understand that the use of both logic and creativity is required in the generation of scientific knowledge
    1.3 Recognise that scientific knowledge is generated from consensus within the community of scientists through a process of critical debate and peer review
    1.4 Understand that scientific knowledge is reliable and durable, yet subject to revision in the light of new evidence.
  2. Demonstrating Science Inquiry Skills
    2.1 Identify scientific problems, observe phenomena and pose scientific questions/hypotheses
    2.2 Plan and conduct investigations by selecting the appropriate experimental procedures, apparatus and materials, with due regard for accuracy, precision and safety
    2.3 Obtain, organise and represent data in an appropriate manner
    2.4 Analyse and interpret data
    2.5 Construct explanations based on evidence and justify these explanations through sound reasoning and logical argument
    2.6 Use appropriate models to explain concepts, solve problems and make predictions
    2.7 Make decisions based on evaluation of evidence, processes, claims and conclusions
    2.8 Communicate scientific findings and information using appropriate language and terminology
  3. Relating Science and Society
    3.1 Recognise that the application of scientific knowledge to problem-solving could be influenced by other considerations such as economic, social, environmental and ethical factors
    3.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits and risks associated with the application of science to society
    3.3 Use scientific principles and reasoning to understand, analyse and evaluate real-world systems, as well as to generate solutions for problem-solving


The rapid progress in the field of life sciences poses a challenge for Biology education, especially in terms of designing a framework that integrates fundamental knowledge, skills and attitudes. With this in mind, this syllabus has adopted a framework that will chart a new direction for Biology education. An overview of this framework is depicted in Fig. 1: H1 Biology Curriculum Framework.

H1 Biology Curriculum Framework

The Practices of Science are common to the natural sciences of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. These practices highlight the ways of thinking and doing that are inherent in the scientific approach, with the aim of equipping students with the understanding, skills, and attitudes shared by the scientific disciplines, including an appropriate approach to ethical issues.
The content in this H1 Biology syllabus is organised around four Core Ideas of Biology and an Extension Topic. The Learning Experiences2 refer to a range of learning opportunities selected by teachers to link the biology content of the Core Ideas and Extension Topic with the Practices of Science, to enhance students’ learning of the concepts. Rather than being mandatory, teachers are encouraged to incorporate Learning Experiences that match the interests and abilities of their students and provide opportunities to illustrate and exemplify the Practices of Science, where appropriate. Real-world contexts can help illustrate the biology concepts and their applications. Experimental activities and ICT tools can also be used to build students’ understanding.
The Extension Topic is based on important emerging biological issues impacting both the local and global contexts. It requires students to demonstrate assimilation of the Core Ideas and extend their knowledge and understanding to real-world challenges. Furthermore, the Extension Topic will equip students with the necessary knowledge and process skills to make informed decisions about scientific issues. In line with this, the Extension Topic chosen is Impact of Climate Change. The Extension Topic takes up about 10% of the total H1 Biology curriculum.

Students are expected to study all four Core Ideas and the Extension Topic.

2 Learning Experiences can be found in the Teaching and Learning Syllabus.


The Assessment Objectives listed below reflect those parts of the Aims and Practices of Science that will be assessed.
A Knowledge with understanding
Candidates should be able to demonstrate knowledge with understanding in relation to:

  1. scientific phenomena, facts, laws, definitions, concepts and theories
  2. scientific vocabulary, terminology and conventions (including symbols, quantities and units)
  3. scientific instruments and apparatus, including techniques of operation and aspects of safety
  4. scientific quantities and their determination
  5. scientific and technological applications with their social, economic and environmental implications.

The syllabus content defines the factual materials that candidates need to recall and explain. Questions testing the objectives above will often begin with one of the following words: define, state, name, describe, explain or outline (see the Glossary of Terms).
B Handling, applying and evaluating information
Candidates should be able (in words or by using symbolic, graphical and numerical forms of presentation) to:

  1. locate, select, organise, interpret and present information from a variety of sources
  2. handle information, distinguishing the relevant from the extraneous
  3. manipulate numerical and other data and translate information from one form to another
  4. present reasoned explanations for phenomena, patterns, trends and relationships
  5. make comparisons that may include the identification of similarities and differences
  6. analyse and evaluate information to identify patterns, report trends, draw inferences, report conclusions and construct arguments
  7. justify decisions, make predictions and propose hypotheses
  8. apply knowledge, including principles, to novel situations
  9. use skills, knowledge and understanding from different areas of Biology to solve problems
  10. organise and present information, ideas and arguments clearly and coherently, using appropriate language.

These Assessment Objectives above cannot be precisely specified in the syllabus content because questions testing such skills are often based on information which is unfamiliar to the candidate. In answering such questions, candidates are required to use principles and concepts that are within the syllabus and apply them in a logical, reasoned or deductive manner to a novel situation. Questions testing these objectives may begin with one of the following words: discuss, predict, suggest, calculate or determine (see the Glossary of Terms).



All candidates are required to enter for Papers 1 and 2.

Type of Paper Duration Marks Weighting (%)
Multiple choice 1 hour 33 30
Structured and free-response 2 hours 67 60

Paper 1 (1 hour, 30 marks)
This paper consists of 30 compulsory multiple choice questions. All questions will be of the direct choice type
with four options.

Paper 2 (2 hours, 60 marks)
This paper comprises two sections.

This paper will comprise two sections. Paper 2 will include questions that assess the higher-order skills of analysing, making conclusions and evaluating information and require candidates to integrate knowledge and understanding from different areas of the syllabus.
Section A (45 marks) will consist of a variable number of structured questions, all compulsory, including at least one data-based or comprehension-type question. The data-based question(s) will constitute 10-15 marks of the paper.
Section B (15 marks) will consist of two free-response questions, from which candidates will choose one. The quality of scientific argumentation and written communication will be given a percentage of the marks

Weighting of Assessment Objectives

Assessment Objectives Weighting (%) Assessment Components
A Knowledge with understanding 40 Papers 1 and 2
B Handling, applying and evaluating information 60 Papers 1 and 2




  1. H1 Biology Syllabus 8876 (2019)

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