study tips for biology classes

I took my general biology classes last year, and did well through sheer memorization. This year I took some advanced biology classes, and have learned how to “study smarter.” Memorization helped me as an initial way to access information, however, I have to admit that in the long run I was missing the big picture. I’ve now formed some general “study pathways” that have helped me think more critically about the material. This in turn has helped me to understand and remember both details and complicated concepts for tests (and hopefully beyond!)
Know your vocabulary and terminology.
What is A, B, and C?
What do A, B, and C look like/act/do
How are A, B, and C similiar?
How are they different?
How does A get to D?
Why can’t B get to D?
What properties does A have that B doesn’t?
What conditions favor A and why?
What conditions inhibit A and why?
What key concept(s) does A represent, and what else follows these same patterns?
I’ve found that catagorizing and organizing information is key. Once you have relationships down, you can use this knowledge for all sorts of test questions that pop up, whether they be essay or multiple choice. This type of studying might be obvious, but it took me awhile to figure it out, so I thought I’d share!

Thanks for sharing this.

Those tips are really great things to keep in mind. I am taking Bio 1 and 2 this summer. So far so good. Only two tests (midterm and final) , which could be deadly. Lab 2 times per week.
Good luck to you.

Those tips are great! I too, used to memorize everything (and still do to a certain extent!). I think it is due to my acting background, though. I’ve had to memorize pages and pages of text in short periods of time, so it has been really hard to break the habit and study more for understanding. I wil try your questions from now on and see how it goes!

Thanks! I always appreciate these type of posts

A book that might be helpful: What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson. It goes through the whole process of asking questions and being an active learner. Though I’m still amazed that this guy manages to boil a whole semester’s worth of notes down to one page. I’m going to try his methods out this summer in Bio 2 and Cell Bio, so we’ll see.

Thank you very much for the study tips. I think it would be a great idea to have a separate page where people could post suggestions, pitfalls and tips for success for each of the pre-med classes. The page would be organized by course in a manner that information would be easily accessible and understood. I wish I could do it. But, I am not that talented. Suggestions???

After completing my first semester, here are two of my most important study tips
1. Find a study partner that complements you.
2. Color pens are very useful, especially for Orgo and Phys. They bring out the information.