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Is there an option available which doesn't involve any assessment of practical skills?

No. Practical skills are an integral part of biology and reflect the importance of practical experimentation and investigation as to how biologists have developed our knowledge of organisms and their physiology, biochemistry, and interaction. In preparing your candidates for the assessment of practical skills, you are expected to provide a range of practical work for them to do, so that they can develop the experimental skills necessary for success. A biology qualification without a practical component would be a second-rate assessment of the subject, and Cambridge aims to provide valid qualifications acceptable in all areas of the world.

There are two assessment routes for practical work the ‘Practical Test’ or the ‘Alternative to Practical’.  However, the following points should be noted:

  • the assessment objectives are the same.
  • the same practical skills need to be learned and developed by the students.
  • students will obtain the same benefits to theoretical understanding that come from undertaking the practical work.
  • the same sequence of practical work is appropriate to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills required for success for both practical assessments.
  • students and teachers will experience the same positive motivational effect, enthusiasm, and enjoyments from doing practical work.
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