Biology Waec Syllabus

Below is this years Waec Syllabus for Biology. Note that this syllabus is for both internal and external candidates.

Aims and Objectives

  • understanding of the structure and functions of living organisms as well as appreciation of nature
  • acquisition of adequate laboratory and field skills in order to carry out and evaluate experiments and projects in Biology
  • acquisition of necessary scientific skills, for example, observing, classifying and interpreting biological data
  • acquisition of the basic relevant knowledge in Biology needed for future advanced studies in biological sciences
  • acquisition of scientific attitudes for problem-solving
  • ability to apply biological principles in everyday life in matters that affect personal, social, environmental, community health and economic problems
  • awareness of the existence of interrelationships between biology and other scientific disciplines

Scheme of Examination

There will be three papers: Papers 1, 2, and 3, all of which must be taken. Papers 1 and 2 will be composite papers to be taken in one sitting.


This will consist of fifty multiple-choice objective questions drawn from Section A of the syllabus (the section of the syllabus that is common to all countries). It will carry 50 marks and last for 50 minutes.


This will consist of six essay questions drawn from the entire syllabus. The paper will be put into three sections: Sections A, B and C.

Section A:

Will consist of four questions drawn from Section A of the syllabus.

Section B:

It will be for candidates in Ghana only and will be drawn from Section B of the syllabus (i.e., the section of the syllabus peculiar to Ghana). It will consist of short, structured questions.

Section C:

It will be for candidates in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Liberia and will be drawn from Section C of the syllabus (i.e., the section of the syllabus containing material for those countries only). It will also consist of short-structured questions.

Candidates will be expected to answer two questions from Section A and all the short-structured questions from either Section B or Section C.

Each question in Section A will carry 20 marks, while the compulsory short-structured questions in Sections B and C will carry 30 marks. The total score will be 70 marks. The paper shall take 1 hour and 40 minutes.


Paper 3 will be a practical test (for school candidates) or a test of practical work (for private candidates) lasting 2 hours and consisting of three sections: Sections A, B and C.

Section A:

This will consist of two compulsory questions drawn from Section A of the syllabus, each carrying 25 marks.

Section B:

This will be for candidates in Ghana only. It will consist of one question drawn from Section B of the syllabus and will carry 30 marks.

Section C:

This will be for candidates in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, and Liberia. It will consist of one question drawn from Section C of the syllabus and will carry 30 marks.

Candidates will be expected to answer all the questions in Section A and one question in either Section B or C. The paper will carry a total score of 80 marks.

Detailed Biology Syllabus

Concept of Living

  1. Classification
    • Living and non-living things
    • Classification of living things into Kingdoms
    • Differences between plants and animals
  2. Organization of life
    • Levels of organization
      • cell (single-celled organisms): Amoeba, Euglena, Paramecium
      • Tissue: Hydra
      • Organ (storage organ) bulb, rhizome and heart.
      • System/Organ System: In mammals, flowering plants – reproductive system, excretory system, etc.
    • Complexity of organization in higher organisms: advantages and disadvantages
  3. Forms in which living cells exist
    • Single and free-living: Amoeba, Paramecium, Euglena, and Chlamydomonas
    • Colony: Volvox
    • Filament: Spirogyra
    • Part of a living organism: cheek cells, onion root tip cells, and epidermis of fleshy leaves
  4. Cell
    • Cell structure and functions of cell components
    • Similarities and differences between plant and animal cells
  5. The Cell and its environment
    • Physical and biophysical processes
    • diffusion
    • osmosis
    • active transport
  6. Properties and functions of the living cell
    • Nutrition
      • Autotrophic (photosynthesis)
      • Heterotrophic (holozoic)
    • Cellular respiration
      • Aerobic respiration
      • anaerobic respiration
      • energy release
    • Excretion
      • Excretion in single-celled aquatic organisms. Diffusion by body surface and by the contractile vacuole
      • Waste products of metabolism
    • Growth
      • Basis of growth: cell division (mitosis), enlargement, and differentiation.
      • Aspects of growth: increase in dry weight, irreversible increase in size and length, and increase in the number of cells.
      • Regions of the fastest growth in plants
      • Influence of growth hormones and auxins
      • Growth curvatures (Tropisms)
    • Development: Enlargement and differentiation
    • Movement
      • Organelles for movement: cilia and flagella
      • Cyclosis
    • Reproduction:
      • Types of reproduction.
      • Asexual: fission, budding and vegetative propagation
      • Sexual: Conjugation, formation of male and female gametes (gametogenesis), fusion of gametes fertilization)
  7. Tissues and supporting systems
    • Skeletons and supporting systems in animals
      • Biological significance
      • Skeletal materials, e.g. bone, cartilage and chitin.
      • Types of skeleton: exoskeleton, endoskeleton and hydrostatic skeleton
      • Bones of the vertebral column, girdles and long bones of the appendicular skeleton
      • Mechanisms of support in animals
      • Functions of skeleton in animals: Protection, support, locomotion and respiratory movement
    • Different types of supporting tissues in plants
      • Main features of supporting tissues in plants
      • Functions of supporting tissues in plants: strength, rigidity (resistance against the forces of the wind and water), flexibility and resilience.
  8. Transport System
    • Need for transport
      • surface area/volume ratio.
      • substances have to move greater distances
    • Transport in animals
      • Structure of the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries
      • Composition and function of blood and lymph
      • Materials for transport: excretory products, gases, digested food, and other nutrients
    • Transport in plants
      • Uptake and movement of water and mineral salts in plants
      • Translocation
      • Transpiration
      • Movement of water to the apex of trees and herbs
  9. Respiratory System
    • Body surface: cutaneous, gills and lungs.
    • Mechanisms of gaseous exchange in fish, toads, mammals and plants
  10. Excretory Systems and Mechanisms
    • Types of excretory systems: Kidney, stomata and lenticels
  11. Regulation of Internal Environment (Homeostasis)
    • Kidney: Structure and functions
    • Liver
      • Functions of the liver
    • The skin
      • Structure and function
  12. Hormonal Coordination
    • Animal hormones
      • Site of secretion, functions and effects of over and under-secretion
    • Plant hormones
  13. Nervous Coordination
    • The central nervous system
      • Components of the central nervous system
      • Parts of the brain and their functions; cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla oblongata, hypothalamus and their functions
      • Structure and function of the Spinal Cord
    • Peripheral Nervous System
      • Somatic Nervous System
      • Autonomic nervous system
      • Structure and functions of the neurone
      • Classification of neurones
    • Types of nervous actions
      • The reflex arc
      • Reflex and voluntary actions
      • Differences between reflex and voluntary actions
      • Conditioned reflex and its role in behavior
  14. Sense Organs

    Structure and function of the:

    • Eye
    • Ear
  15. Reproductive System
    • Reproductive systems of mammals
      • Structure and function of male and female reproductive systems
      • Differences between male and female reproductive organs
      • Structure of the gametes (sperm and ovum)
      • Fertilization, development of the embryo and birth
      • Birth control
    • Metamorphosis in insects: life histories of butterfly and cockroach
    • Comparison of reproduction in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
    • Reproduction in flowering plants
      • Arrangements of floral parts of a named insect-pollinated flower and a named wind-pollinated flower
      • Structure and function of the male and female parts of a flower
    • Pollination in Plants
      • Types of pollination
      • Features of cross-pollinated and self-pollinated flowers
      • Agents of Pollination
    • Kinds of placentation: axile, marginal and parietal
    • Process of development of zygote in flowering plants: Fertilization
      • Types of fruits (classification)
      • Structure of fruits
    • Dispersal of fruits and seeds: Agents of dispersal

Plant and Animal Nutrition

  1. Plant Nutrition
    • Photosynthesis
      • Process of photosynthesis and its chemical equation
      • Light and dark reactions
      • Materials and conditions necessary for photosynthesis
      • Evidence of photosynthesis
    • Mineral requirement of plants
      • Mineral nutrition: Macro and micro-nutrients
      • Soil and atmosphere as sources of mineral elements.
  2. Animal Nutrition
    • Food substances; classes and sources
    • Balanced diet and its importance
    • Food tests
    • Digestive enzymes: Classes, characteristics and functions
    • Modes of Nutrition
      • Autotrophic: Photosynthesis
      • Heterotrophic: holozoic, parasitic, symbiotic and saprophytic
    • Alimentary System
      • Alimentary tract of different animals.
    • Dental Formula
    • Feeding in protozoa and mammals

Basic Ecological Concepts

  1. Ecosystem
    • Components of the ecosystem and sizes
      • Ecological components: environment, biosphere, habitat, population, biotic community and ecosystem
    • Components of the ecosystem
      • Biotic and abiotic
  2. Ecological factors
    • Ecological factors in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  3. Simple Measurement of Ecological Factors
    • Physical factors: Climatic, topographic and gaseous
    • Edaphic factors: Chemical and physical composition, moisture content and soil texture
  4. Food webs and trophic levels
    • Autotrophs and Heterotrophs
      • Producers: autotrophs
      • Consumers: heterotrophs
      • Decomposers
    • Trophic levels of energy relationships
      • Food chain
      • Food web
    • Energy flow
      • Food/Energy relationship in aquatic and terrestrial environments
      • Pyramid of energy and Pyramid of numbers
    • Decomposition in nature
      • Decomposers: (micro and macro-decomposers)
      • Gaseous products
      • Role of decomposers
  5. Ecological Management
    • Biological Associations
      • Type of associations: Parasitism, symbiosis, commensalism and saprophytism
    • Adaptation of organisms to habitats
    • Pollution of the atmosphere
      • Nature, names, sources and effects of air pollutants
      • Effect of noise
    • Water and Soil Pollution
      • Type and effects of pollutants
  6. Ecology of population
    • Ecological succession
      • Structural changes in species composition, variety or diversity and increase in numbers
      • General characteristics and outcomes of succession
    • Primary succession
    • Succession in terrestrial and aquatic habitats
    • Secondary succession, climax of the succession: characteristic of a stable ecosystem
    • Factors that affect population size: natality, mortality, emigration, immigration, food shortage, predation, competition and diseases
    • Preservation and storage of foods
    • The life of selected insects
      • Weevils and cotton strainers
      • Control of pests
  7. Microorganisms: Man and health
    • Carriers of microorganisms
    • Microorganisms in action
      • Beneficial effects in nature, medicine and industries
      • Harmful effects of microorganisms, diseases caused by microorganisms: cholera, measles, malaria and ringworm.
    • Towards better Health
      • Methods of controlling harmful microorganisms: high temperature, antibiotics, antiseptics, high salinity and dehydration
      • Ways of controlling the vectors
    • Public Health
      • Refuse and sewage disposal
      • Immunization, vaccination and inoculation (control of diseases)

Conservation of Natural Resources

  1. Resources to be conserved: soil, water, wildlife, forest and minerals
  2. Ways of ensuring conservation

Variation in Population

  1. Morphological variations in the physical appearance of individuals
    • size, height and weight
    • colour (skin, eye, hair coat of animals)
    • fingerprints
  2. Physiological Variations
    • Ability to roll tongue
    • Ability to taste
    • phenylthiocarbamide (PTC)
    • Blood groups (ABO) classification

Biology of Heredity (Genetics)

  1. Genetic Terminologies
  2. Transmission and expression of characteristics in organisms
    • Hereditary variation
    • Mendel’s work in genetics
      • Mendel’s experiments
      • Mendelian traits
      • Mendelian laws
  3. Chromosomes: The basis of heredity
    • Structure
    • Process of transmission of hereditary characters from parents to offspring
  4. Probability in genetics (Hybrid formation)
  5. Linkage, sex determination and sex-linked characters
  6. Application of the principles of heredity in
    • Agriculture
    • Medicine

Adaptation for survival and Evolution

  1. Behavioural Adaptations in Social Animals
    • Termites
    • Bees
  2. Evolution
    • Evidence of evolution
    • Theories of evolution


  1. Introducing Biology
    • Biology as a science of life
    • Procedure for biological work
    • Importance of Biology
    • Body symmetry, sectioning and orientation
    • The microscope
    • Biological drawings
  2. Cell Biology
    • Movement of substances into and out of cells: Endocytosis and Exocytosis
    • Nucleic acids
    • DNA structure and replication, RNA transcription
    • Protein synthesis
    • Cell cycle
  3. Life Processes in Living Things
    • Amoeba, Paramecium, and Euglena
    • Spirogyra and Rhizopus
    • Mosses and ferns
  4. Diversity of Living Things
    • Characteristics of some of the orders of Class Insecta
    • Identification of organisms using biological keys
  5. Interactions in Nature Soil
  6. Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology
    • Dissection of a small mammal
    • Transport: Structure of the mammalian heart
    • Cellular respiration
    • Movement
      • Muscles
      • Skeletal tissues
    • Reproduction
      • Secondary sexual characteristics
      • Prenatal/Antenatal care
  7. Plant Structure and Physiology
    • Morphology of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants.
    • Transport: Guttation
    • Reproduction: Floral formula
  8. Humans and their Environment
    • Integrated water resources management
    • Health and hygiene
      • Drug abuse
      • Community Health
      • First Aid
  9. Evolution
    • Recombinant DNA Technology
  10. Biology and Industry
    • Biology and water industry
      • Contamination of water
      • Identification of polluted water
      • Wastewater treatment
    • Biology and fishing industry
      • Fish stock management
      • Fish farming
    • Biology and food industry
      • Food additives
    • Biology and Agriculture
    • Biotechnology
    • Biological fuel generation


  1. Concept of Living
    • Cell theory
    • Irritability as a basic characteristic of protoplasm
      • Types of responses: taxis and nastism
      • Environmental factors that evoke responses; temperature, pH etc
    • Excretory Systems
      • Diseases of the kidney: Nephritis, kidney stone and diuresis, Their effects and remedies.
      • Diseases of the liver: infective hepatitis, cancer of the liver and gallstones. Their effects and remedies
  2. Sense organs
    • Nose
    • Tongue
    • The skin
  3. Reproduction
    • Courtship behaviour in animals
      • Pairing
      • Display e.g. peacocks
      • Territoriality
      • Seasonal migration associated with breeding in herrings, eels and birds.
    • Metamorphosis and life history of houseflies.
    • Adaptive features in a developing animal
      • Yolk in eggs of fish, toads and birds for nourishment
      • Placenta in animals
    • Germination of seeds
      • Essential factors which affect developing embryos.
      • Types of germination

Plant and Animal Nutrition

  1. Nitrogen cycle
  2. Modes of nutrition:
    • autotrophic, chemosynthetic, and carnivorous plants
  3. Alimentary System
    • Alimentary tracts of different animals
    • Description and function of various parts.
  4. Feeding habits
    • Categories: Carnivorous, herbivorous and omnivorous
    • Modifications and mechanisms associated with the following habits; filter feeding, fluid feeding, feeding adaptation in insects, saprophytic feeding, parasitic feeding etc.

Basic Ecological Concepts

  1. Ecological Components:
    • Lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, niche
  2. Population Studies by Sampling
    • Population size
    • Dominance
    • Density
  3. Energy transformation in nature
    • Energy loss in the ecosystem
    • Solar radiation: its intake and loss at the earth’s surface
    • Energy loss in the biosphere
  4. Nutrient Cycling in Nature
    • Carbon Cycle
      • Process of the carbon cycle
      • Importance of carbon in nature
    • Water Cycle
      • Importance of water cycle
      • Importance of water to living organisms
  5. Ecological Management
    • Tolerance, Minimum and maximum range
  6. Habitats
    • Aquatic habitat: marine, estuarine fresh water under the following headings
      • Characteristics of habitat
      • distribution of plants and animals in the habitat
      • adaptive features of plants and animals in the habitat
    • Terrestrial habitat: marsh, forest, grassland, arid land should be studied under the following headings
      • Characteristics of habitat
      • distribution of plants and animals in habitat
    • Balance in Nature
      • Dynamic equilibrium population and population density
  7. Relevance of Biology to Agriculture
    • Classification of plants based on life cycle
    • Effects of agricultural practices on ecology
      • Bush burning
      • Tillage
      • Fertilizer
      • Herbicide/pesticide
      • Different farming methods
  8. Microorganisms: Man and His Health
    • Microorganisms around us
      • Microorganisms in air and water
      • Groups of microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, some algae, protozoa and some fungi
    • Microorganisms in our bodies and food
    • Public Health
      • Food hygiene and health organization.

Application of Variations

  1. Crime detection
  2. Blood transfusion
  3. Determination of paternity


  1. Adaptation for survival
    • Factors that bring about competition
    • Intra and Inter-species competition
    • Relationship between competition and succession
  2. Structural Adaptation for
    • obtaining food protection and defense
    • securing mates for reproduction,
    • regulating body temperature
    • conserving water
  3. Adaptive Colouration Plants and animals Colouration and their functions

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