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October 02, 2023, 05:38:14 am

Author Topic: What you don't need to know - and other tips found in VCAA documents  (Read 3996 times)  Share 

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There are always questions asked about how much you need to know about specific topics and about what’s still in the study design. I think this is a fairly comprehensive list, but as always if you think something here is wrong or something needs to be added, let me know!
I've also included a few other notes that may help when answering VCAA questions.

Everything below is based off the current study design, the 2013 study design, VCAA’s FAQ, and VCAA exams.

You’ll notice that there’s a section below labelled things you probably don’t need to know. These are things that VCAA haven’t explicitly said aren’t needed but are implied through other things they’ve said – Don’t take these as fact, entirely possible that I could be wrong about them. I’ve included my reasoning below so you can make your own judgement about it.

NOTE: The below only applies to the end of year exam. Hopefully your teachers are following the study design, in which case this will also apply to your SACs, however if you learn something in class that contradicts this list then it’d be a good idea to check with your teacher about whether it’ll be on the SAC. Specifically, I’m aware that a lot of people are being taught about plant hormones, despite it being clear that you don’t need to know details about them.

Things no longer in the study design:
•   Cell reproduction (mitosis/meiosis, DNA replication, crossing over, linked genes, etc.)
•   Stimulus-response model (except in the context of signal transduction)
•   Continuous and discontinuous variation
•   Punnet squares
•   Pedigrees
•   Details of the Krebs cycle
•   Details about nerve impulses/neurons

Definitely don’t need to know:
•   Chemical structures of specific amino acids
•   Not required to be able to recognise chemical structures in plasma membranes (are required to recognise general structures though)
•   Names of regulatory proteins or genes in lac operon (ie. Lac Z, Y, A)
•   Knowledge of specific plant hormones, this means that you don’t need to be able to name them or know what each one does.
•   Specific molecules involved in apoptosis (e.g. Caspase numbers)
•   Specific cytokines
•   Specific dates for changes in life forms on Earth are not required, you do need to know the general order though.
•   The specific order of which human species evolved from which (but do need to know the order genus' evolved in).
•   Specific details about species (e.g. which was the first to use fire), just need to know evolutionary trends.

Do need to know:
•   Need to be able to draw dipeptide that results from condensation polymerisation
•   Chemical, physical, and microbiological barriers in each of plants and animals.
•   That geological time is divided into sections (e.g. eras and periods), but you don’t need to know the name of all these.
•   Why life on Earth has changed over time (e.g. changes to atmosphere (introduction of oxygen), meteors, etc.) – but not in great detail.

Probably don’t need to know:
•   It’s unlikely that you need to know about FAD/FADH2
-It’s not mentioned in the study design (NADH is)
-For photosynthesis and anaerobic respiration, the study design refers to ‘the inputs and outputs’ however for ETC and Krebs the study design refers to the ‘main inputs and outputs’, implying there are some you don’t need to know.
•   I don’t think you’ll need to know about evolutionary theories.
They’re not mentioned on the study design or FAQ, and it hasn’t been tested in any of the three exams so far. I don’t see how VCAA could test your knowledge of it without requiring you to know about which species evolved from which (they’ve said you don’t need to know this). The most I think you’d need to know is the general idea of each of the theories, but not specific details. If you get a question on human evolution, I’d expect it to be more of an application question like the ones below, which don’t require any specific knowledge of species or evolution theories.
2017 MCQ 35

2017 SAQ 7

2018 NHT MCQ 21

Other hints found in these documents:
•   VCAA specifies that hormones are secreted by ductless glads of the endocrine system, not just ‘the endocrine system’.
•   Transduction in hydrophilic signalling is the change in configuration of the receptor, resulting in the activation of a second messenger. 
•   Phagocytosis is not considered part of apoptosis.
•   Should refer to hydrophilic receptors as being in the cytosol, not the cytoplasm – these are not interchangeable terms.
•   Be wary of whether a question on reaction rate refers to concentration or amount of a substance – they are not interchangeable.
•   The wording of the study design dot point on immunity seems to imply that B cells = Humoral immunity, T cells (helper and cytotoxic) = cell mediated immunity. Although Helper T cells are actually involved in both types of immunity, this wording supports not writing about Th cells in questions on humoral immunity.
Study design dot point
the characteristics and roles of components of the adaptive (specific) immune response including the actions of B lymphocytes and their antibodies (including antibody structure) in humoral immunity, and the actions of T helper and T cytotoxic cells in cell-mediated immunity

Exam tips from VCAA assessors’ reports:
•   Need to be specific to the scenario given in the question – if you provide a generic answer to a specific question you won’t get full marks.
•   If you are given a comparative question, make sure you provide a comparative statement as the answer – a common error is to just
describe a characteristic of one of them. For example, if you’re asked to compare DNA and mRNA, you can’t just say ‘DNA is double stranded’, you need to say ‘DNA is double stranded whereas mRNA is single stranded.’
•   Express yourself clearly. This saves time and makes your response easier for the examiner to read. This partly comes down to practice, but it also helps if you read examiners reports and make sure you understand what the question is asking.
•   Structure your answer clearly
•   Do not repeat the stem of the question in your answer. It can feel a bit weird to do this initially, but it’s enough to just include a keyword from the question to make it clear what you’re referring to, you don’t need to repeat large chunks of it.
•   You can use well known abbreviations in your answer (e.g. ATP, NADH, DNA) and you can use abbreviations that are used in the stem of the question, however if you want to use others then you should write the entire name out first. For example, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and then you can refer to it just as PCR later in that question only.
•   Don’t write a contradictory answer. This partly comes down to being able to know what you’re going to write. If you start arguing against yourself then you’ll lose marks.
2019: B. Environment and Sustainability/B. Science @ ANU
2020: Just Vibing
2021: B. Paramedicine/B. Nursing @ ACU Canberra


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Re: What you don't need to know - and other tips found in VCAA documents
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 09:22:17 am »
Extremely helpful once again PhoenixxFire, shall definitely be referring to this throughout the year
2021-2025: BMedSci/M.D @ Monash


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Re: What you don't need to know - and other tips found in VCAA documents
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 09:02:17 pm »
Thanks Phoenixx, really useful resource!
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