Everything you need to know about Grade 12 Life Sciences

- 5 minute read

Life Sciences is considered to be the softer of the sciences, however, it does not mean that it is an easy way out in your senior years at high school. The volume of work that is covered increases each year, with the largest volume being in Matric. Studyclix is here to help you navigate through this subject and make your exams easier.

In this guide:

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What is involved?

Life Sciences covers a range of topics in Matric from understanding the basics of life in the form of DNA and how proteins are made, to how the brain works and includes concepts such as genetics and inheritance and evolution. The assessments include termly tests and practicals, a project or assignment and exams (one midyear, two trials and two final papers). 

The following are all the topics that are covered in Matric:

Life at a molecular level
  • DNA code of life
  • RNA and protein synthesis
  • Meiosis
Life processes in plants and animals
  • Reproduction in vertebrates
  • Human reproduction
  • Nervous system
  • Senses
  • Endocrine system
  • Homeostasis
Diversity, change and continuity
  • Darwinism and natural selection
  • Human evolution
  • DNA code of life
  • RNA and protein synthesis
  • Meiosis

The Exam

The Life Sciences exams are divided into two papers. Each paper is out of 150 marks and are 2,5 hour long papers.

Paper One

The following topics are tested in paper one:

  • Reproduction in vertebrates - 8 marks (5%)

  • Human reproduction - 41 marks (27%)

  • Responding to the environment (humans) - 54 marks (36%)

  • Responding to the environment (plants) - 13 marks (9%)

  • Endocrine and homeostasis (humans) - 34 marks (23%)

Paper Two

The following topics are tested in paper two:

  • DNA code of life - 27 marks (18%)

  • Meiosis - 21 marks (14%)

  • Genetics and inheritance - 48 marks (32%)

  • Evolution - 54 marks (36%)

Exam Breakdown

Each paper is broken down into two sections and each section has various types of questions.

Section A: 50 marks

Section A has these types of questions:

  • Short answer questions such as 50 multiple-choice, terminology, columns/statements and matching items.
Section B: 100 marks

Section B has these types of questions:

  • Two questions of 50 marks each, divided into a number of sub questions. Each may be further divided.

Section A has these types of questions:

  • Short answer questions such as 50 multiple-choice, terminology, columns/statements and matching items.

How to prepare for your Life Sciences Exam

Know the details of your topics

By knowing what aspects of each topic you might be tested on, you can focus on the important information and avoid wasting time on other content. To find a detailed breakdown of the content being tested in each paper, take a look at the examination guidelines here.

Understanding the question words

Words such as explain, describe, tabulate, state, etc. Know what these question words are asking you to do and then use your knowledge and source material provided in the question paper to answer the questions.

Memorise your key terms

Flashcards are a great way to help you study the many subject-specific terms that you need to learn. It is important that you are able to define these terms and be able to use them correctly in your answers. You can find our flashcards here.

Practice, practice, practice

Once you are familiar and confident with a topic’s terminology, you can test your knowledge by doing short quizzes, consisting of multiple choice, true or false questions, and ones that require short answers. This is also good practice for the type of questions expected in Section A of your final exams!

Top Tip

You can take a topic-specific quiz for every Life Sciences topic on Studyclix.

The next step is to start practising questions from past papers. Although it may seem daunting at first, the memos and memo explanations will provide the help you need to learn how to accurately answer the type of questions you can expect in your examinations.

Read the exam paper carefully

Read the instructions carefully and answer accordingly. Remember to always use the information in the question when writing your answer. Example: Learners often assume that all cells referred to in a question are human cells and will, therefore, assume that the cell in the question has 46 chromosomes. This is often not the case. Read carefully!

Prepare for your exam

While it is not enough to simply memorize processes and explanations, there are certain processes that you must be able to describe verbatim. Examples of these are transcription and translation which occurs during protein synthesis.

On the day of your exam tips

On the day of your exam, you need to bring some tools with you to ensure you have everything you need:

  • Bring a calculator as some of the scientific method questions require percentage increase or decrease calculations.

  • Bring along a protractor for the times when a pie chart is needed to be drawn.

  • Bring a pencil for drawings as all drawings need to be drawn in pencil.

  • Bring more than one blue/black pen in case your pen runs out of ink.

Top Tip

Don’t be afraid to write on the question paper and highlight keywords in a question. This can be useful when figuring out pedigree diagrams or identifying the aim of an experiment. But remember that only answers written on your answer sheet will be marked.

Good luck with your exams, you've got this!

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