While Biology is a required course, it doesn't have to be difficult to study and pass. It is a self-built course, therefore it is essential to understand the basics before you can understand the more complex ones. Learning the vocabulary associated with biology and following through on the material are the best ways to improve your understanding of this course so that you will be ready for each exam.
Part 1 of 2: Learn the Material
Step 1. Have a positive attitude towards biology
Biology can be complicated; however, it is also very interesting if you take a step back to think about what you study. Having the right attitude can make studying more fun. It will be difficult; however, it will not feel like a burden if you are interested in what you learn.
- Think about how your body works. How do your muscles work together to allow you to move? How does your brain communicate with your muscles to tell your body to take a step? It is very complex, but all the cells in your body work together to keep you healthy.
- Biology teaches you all about these processes and how they work. It is very fascinating if you think about it.
Step 2. Divide complex words at their roots
You might find the vocabulary of biology complicated and difficult to understand. However, most biology words come from Latin and have a prefix and suffix. Knowing the prefixes and suffixes that make up the terms can help you analyze difficult words and thus understand the meaning.
- For example, the word "glucose" can be separated into two words: "gluc" which means "sweet" and "-ose" which means "sugar". Since "-ose" means "sugar," you know that maltose, sucrose, and lactose are also sugars.
- The term "endoplasmic reticulum" seems difficult. However, if you know that "endo" means "inside" or "inside", that "plasmic" means "cytoplasm" and that "ret" means "network", then you know that it is a network-shaped structure that is found within the cytoplasm.
Step 3. Make flashcards with the vocabulary words
Mnemonics cards represent one of the best ways to learn the meaning of many words that you will encounter in biology. You can take them everywhere with you and study them at any time. A great time to review mnemonics is when you're in the car on the way to school. While the process of making mnemonic flashcards is a useful way to study, the flashcards themselves will only be useful if you actually study them.
- At the beginning of each new unit, identify the vocabulary words you don't know and make flashcards out of them.
- Study these cards throughout the unit and by the time the test approaches you will know all of them.
Step 4. Draw and label diagrams
Sketching a diagram of a biological process can be a simpler way to learn a concept rather than just reading about it. If you really get it, you should be able to draw the whole process and label all the important aspects. Also study the diagrams that are in your textbook. Read the captions and understand well what the diagram represents and how it relates to the concept you are learning.
- Many biology courses will begin by learning about the cell and the various parts and organelles that make it up. It is important to be able to draw and label all the parts.
- The same is true of many of the cell cycles, such as ATP synthesis and the Krebs cycle. Practice the pictures a few times a week to make sure you know them by heart before the test.
Step 5. Read textbooks before class
Biology is not a course that can be captured in the short period of time that you will be in class. Reading the material before treating it in class will give you an edge on the concepts and you will know what is coming. The textbook will introduce you to the topics and you will get a lot more information outside of class if you are prepared to ask questions based on your reading.
- Check your syllabus to find out which parts of the book to read before class.
- Take notes on the material and go to class with questions in hand.
Step 6. Learn concepts from the general to the specific
Understanding biology requires that you have a general understanding of the broad concepts before you can really get into the details. Get a good handle on the broad topics before trying to understand the details of how they work.
- You will have to know that proteins are made of blueprints of DNA before you can understand how DNA is read and then translated into such proteins.
- Outlines are a great way to organize your notes from general to specific.
Part 2 of 2: Study the Material
Step 1. Answer the questions at the end of each chapter
Biology textbooks have great questions at the end of each chapter, which will reinforce the concepts you need to understand from the material. Try to answer the questions and see how many you can do well. Take note of the questions that are most difficult to answer. Recheck your notes on those topics or reread that part of the chapter.
If you have a lot of difficulty answering these questions, seek help from your classmate or teacher
Step 2. Review your notes within one day of each talk
Avoid leaving class and forgetting everything you just learned. Reviewing your notes later that afternoon or the next day can help you synthesize what you learned. As you review them, ask yourself if it all makes sense.
If something prominent confuses you, reread the material on that concept in your textbook. If it still doesn't make sense, ask your teacher about it in the next class
Step 3. Set aside time to study biology specifically
Since biology can be difficult for many students, you will need to take the time to get it right. If you set aside time every night or every other night for biology, you will get in the good habit of studying frequently. Later you will thank yourself when you do not have to study hard until late for the exam since all that time you will have been reviewing the course.
Stick to your study schedule and make it a habit. If you do not study one day, make sure you do it the next day and do not stumble upon the possibility of not studying for several days in a row
Step 4. Use mnemonic devices
Creating mnemonic devices can be very useful when studying biology. For example, you can create a mnemonia to remember the order of substrates in the Krebs cycle.
Try to come up with a phrase that is easy for you to remember and that includes words whose initial letters represent the order of each of the substrates in the Krebs cycle
Step 5. Study old quizzes and tests before testing
If you have access to the exams from previous years, try to solve them and see how many you answer correctly. If you don't have access to those tests, study your old tests and assessments to get an idea of the types of questions they will ask you.
Answering the questions on the old assessments will give you an idea of what you need to continue studying and what topics you are proficient in
- Go to an educational and useful website where you can study.
- Watching news and reading science newspapers and magazines can help you study biology. New technologies emerge every day (for example, advancements in cloning technology) and those new things could come up on your exam (application problems).
- Paying attention to current affairs can help you get a general idea about newly invented technologies. Doing that can also make you feel more interested in biology.