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Drawings & Annotations for the IBDP Biology Exam (old syllabus & new!)

It's the time of year when students begin to ask for help making review plans, tutoring requests get more frequent and everyone starts to grapple with the large amount of material to know for the IBDP Biology exam. While there is a lot of content to know, apply and evaluate there are also many diagrams which students need to be able to draw, annotate or label. These diagram-based questions can show up on any of the exam papers and often do. You can see two commonly required diagrams in the images below, the first being the action spectrum of photosynthesis (from Topic 2) and the second being the structure of the heart (from Topic 6). I have seen both of these diagrams show up on past papers and have designed my instruction of these topics to include practice with these diagrams.

For several years now I have been meaning to make a list of diagrams for my students as a review tool for unit tests throughout the course and for the IB exam... and I finally got around to it this year! Just in time for the syllabus to change! lol Since this is the second-last exam of the old syllabus (last exam May 2024) I decided to take a look at the required drawings and annotations for the new syllabus as well (first exam May 2025) and make a first draft of a list of drawings & annotations, you can see it below. It seems like there are a lot less diagrams to memorize, but I am sure that as I continue to dive into the new subject guide I will find more diagrams or graphs for students to learn. If I find any additions I will be sure to update the document here, well in advance of the first exam in May 2025.

If you would like a word file version of the list for the old syllabus (I share will be sharing this with my students soon) or the new syllabus feel free to download them below. It is my hope that this list will help students to include the diagrams into their revision and clarify the requirements from the IBDP Guide. Please note that in the old syllabus (last exam May 2024) list I have added notes when there was no guidance from the IBO. I have done so based on my own experience and my familiarity with past papers, but this is in no way a guarantee that the list if comprehensive, these personal notes have been marked with an asterix*.

IBDP Biology List of Drawings Last Exam May 2024
Download DOCX • 24KB

IBDP Biology List of Drawings First Exam May 2025
Download DOCX • 16KB

In planning the new course it will be important to make sure that we address these drawings and annotations, incorporating them into lessons and assessments throughout the course. As I begin to make my first course sequencing documents and unit plans I will be referring to this list often to ensure that I help my students build the knowledge and skills they need to be able to perform well on the IB exam. Many students are surprised by the drawing component of IBDP Biology and a list such as this one could also be useful for helping students to understand the scope of drawing and annotation in the course as they make decisions regarding their coursework in the IB Diploma.

It is also important to make sure you review key command terms relevant to these skills for your students, I have included the official definitions of draw, label, annotate and identify at the top of each list to help students understand what is required and therefore how to ensure that their answer matches the markscheme. I will be diving more into the importance of Command Terms in my blog post next week, so stay tuned for more info.

I hope this post helps with both your exam review and course planning, if you are interested in more tips on planning exam review with your students, check out this post about how I gather student feedback for final exam review planning.

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds!

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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