# OCR A level biology: mathematical skills handbook

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This Handbook is intended as a resource for teachers, to clarify the nature of the mathematical skills required for A level biology, and indicate how each skill is relevant to the biology subject content.

Contents include:

Arithmetic and numerical computation

• Recognise and make use of appropriate units in calculations
• Recognise and use expressions in decimal and standard form
• Use ratios, fractions and percentages
• Estimate Results
• Use calculators to find and use power, exponential and logarithm functions 16

Handling data

• Use an appropriate number of significant figures
• Find arithmetic means
•  Construct and interpret frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms
• Understand simple probability
• Understand the principles of sampling as applied to scientific data
• Understand the terms mean, median and mode
• Use a scatter diagram to identify a correlation between two variables
• Make order of magnitude calculations
• Select and use a statistical test
• Understand measures of dispersion, including standard deviation and range
• Identify uncertainties in measurements and use simple techniques to determine uncertainty when data are combined

Algebra

• Understand and use the symbols: =, <, <<, >>, >, ∝, ∼ 37
• Change the subject of an equation
• Substitute numerical values into algebraic equations using appropriate units for physical quantities
• Solve algebraic equations
• Use logarithms in relation to quantities that range over several orders of magnitude

Graphs

• Translate information between graphical, numerical and algebraic forms
• Plot two variables from experimental or other data
• Understand that y = mx + c represents a linear relationship
• Determine the intercept of a graph
• Calculate rate of change from a graph showing a linear relationship
• Draw and use the slope of a tangent to a curve as a measure of rate of change

Geometry and trigonometry

• Calculate the circumferences, surface areas and volumes of regular shapes

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