PO Box 2120 Richmond, VA 23218
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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

03051 Biology I

Field of Study

The high school Biology course is designed to provide students with a detailed understanding of living systems. Emphasis continues to be placed on the skills necessary to examine alternative scientific explanations, actively conduct controlled experiments, analyze and communicate information, and gather and use information in scientific literature. The history of biological thought and the evidence that supports it are explored, providing the foundation for investigating biochemical life processes, cellular organization, and mechanisms of inheritance, dynamic relationships among organisms, and the change in organisms through time. The importance of scientific research that validates or challenges ideas is emphasized at this level. All students are expected to achieve the content of the biology standards.

The Biology standards continue to focus on student growth in understanding the nature of science. This scientific view defines the idea that explanations of nature are developed and tested using observation, experimentation, models, evidence, and systematic processes. The nature of science includes the concepts that scientific explanations are based on logical thinking; are subject to rules of evidence; are consistent with observational, inferential, and experimental evidence; are open to rational critique; and are subject to refinement and change with the addition of new scientific evidence. The nature of science includes the concept that science can provide explanations about nature and can predict potential consequences of actions, but cannot be used to answer all questions.

Link to DOE description Biology SOLs

Material Covered

The course is divided into 9 Units structured around the major concepts described in the Virginia Biology Standards:

  • Unit 1: Scientific Investigation
  • Unit 2: Biochemistry
  • Unit 3: Cells
  • Unit 4: Mendelian Genetics/heredity
  • Unit 5: Molecular Genetics/DNA & RNA
  • Unit 6: Biodiversity
  • Unit 7: Classification
  • Unit 8: Ecology
  • Unit 9: Organ Systems & Homeostasis
  • Unit 10: SOL Review

Student Expectations

Each unit addresses concepts via a variety of strategies that include anticipatory questions, presentations, discussions, hands-on and virtual lab experiences, demonstrations, online lectures and videos, and written reports. The strategies provide a framework within which students utilize and demonstrate scientific thinking and experimentation.

All students are expected to achieve the content of the biology standards linked above.

Related Requirements

Students may be expected (or required) to take the Biology SOL upon completion of this course. That test is usually given in early to mid May. While the SOL test may be a requirement for school districts, Virtual Virginia does not require it.


  • Per local school district

Course Texts and Materials


  • None
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