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Every IB Biology Past Paper Available: Free and Official

Posted by Dora Seigel | Nov 4, 2018 10:50:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)



When you take the IB Biology SL or HL exam, you'll be stressed out no matter what. But having seen a past paper beforehand will be a huge advantage since you'll know the format of the test cold and will be used to the length and style of the test.

In this article, I will at least try to get you familiar with the exam format by exposing you to IB Biology past papers, both free and paid. I'll also share strategies on how best to use these IB Biology tests for your own exam prep.

Where to Find Free Past Papers

Disclaimer: These free past papers should be used at your own risk, as they're hosted on other sites and not by the IBO.

These links include access to paper 1, paper 2, paper 3, and the mark schemes (answer keys) from each testing session (May and November) for both time zones (for each session, IBO creates 2 different formats for tests taken in different time zones) from May 2009 to May 2012 for IB Biology SL and from May 2009 to November 2012 for IB Biology HL.




IB Biology Standard Level Links: 

IB Biology Higher Level Links: 


As I said before, I am issuing a warning for all of these tests. They may be free, but you risk downloading viruses or causing other harm to your computer by accessing some of them.

Note: I am only including links to copies of real IB Biology past papers from 2009 to present. I only recommend using those from 2009 to present since there have been a couple syllabus changes since 2009, older tests will most likely be too different from the current test to be useful. 

I have not been able to find any unofficial IB Biology past papers (ones created from scratch). You should be very wary of any you find. I DO NOT recommend using them, as they may be very different from the actual IB Biology exam. 




Where to Find Paid Tests

The IBO sells the IB Biology SL past papers and IB Biology HL past papers from May 2011 to November 2014 on their website. This is the only safe place to get IB Biology past papers to download. 

Each paper and each mark scheme costs 1.99 Pounds or a little over $3. One full exam (including paper 1, paper 2, paper 3, and the mark scheme) will cost you about $12. Buying all of the past papers and mark schemes from May 2011 to November 2014 can be costly (about $96 for all of the SL exams or HL exams, or about $192 for all of both SL and HL), so if you are looking to spend as little as possible, I recommend just purchasing the most recent (November 2014 and May 2014) past papers as they will be closest to what you learned.


3 Tips to Use IB Biology Past Papers Effectively

Each IB Biology practice test will take 3 hours for SL or 4 hours for HL, so it's crucial that you get the most out of each test (since you will probably not have time for very many of them). Here are critical strategies to keep in mind when you're taking the tests:   




1. Take papers 1 and 2 in one sitting if possible.

IB Biology SL and IB Biology HL papers 1 and 2 are given back to back, forcing you to write for 2 hours for SL and 3 hours and 15 minutes for HL. You need to build up endurance, so you don't make careless mistakes when you are exhausted at the end of paper 2. By taking the IB Biology practice exam in one sitting, you build up important endurance for the real papers. If you don't have time in your schedule for a 2-hour or 3-hour 15-minute session, then splitting the papers up over a few days is fine. Just make sure you follow the next rule:


2. Keep strict timing on each paper with a timer.

It is VITAL that you get used to the timing pressures on the IB Biology papers. Here is the time allotted for each paper:

IB Biology SL:

  • IB Biology SL Paper 1 - 45 minutes
  • IB Biology SL Paper 2 - 1 hour 15 minutes
  • IB Biology SL Paper 3 - 1 hour

IB Biology HL:

  • IB Biology HL Paper 1 - 1 hour
  • IB Biology HL Paper 2 - 2 hours 15 minutes
  • IB Biology HL Paper 3 - 1 hour 15 minutes

In this time frame, you need to finish:

IB Biology SL:

  • SL Paper 1: 30 multiple-choice questions
  • SL Paper 2: 4 short responses and 1 essay question (you choose between 3 options)
  • SL Paper 3: 6 short response questions that each can have between 2-5 parts

 IB Biology HL:

  • HL Paper 1: 40 multiple-choice questions
  • HL Paper 2: 4 short response questions that each can have between 3-10 parts and 2 essay questions (you choose between 4 options)
  • HL Paper 3: 7 or more short response and essay questions (varies based on the options that you covered in your class).

Do not give yourself even 2 extra minutes during your practice- this can allow you to answer more questions and improve your IB exam score substantially. We want to use these practice tests as reliable indicators of your real IB Biology score.




3. Review your answers from your practice test.

At the end of every practice exam, make sure you review every mistake you made, and every question you were unsure of. If you skip this step in the process, you're not going to learn from your mistakes, and you'll continue making them on the next tests. You should spend at least 1.5 hours reviewing every full practice exam. This may feel like a lot of time, but emphasize quality of learning over quantity of learning. I'd rather see you take 2 exams with detailed review than 5 exams with no review. 


What’s next?

Learn more about IB Biology:

Learn more about the IB Program through our other articles:

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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