How To Study For Biology: 5 Easy Tips

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Some of us thrive in certain types of classes, while others may need to work a little harder. Biology is something you may or may not have a passion for, but if you want to do well in school, you’ll need to do well in the class! As you may soon discover (if you haven’t already,) Biology class may feature different concepts from anything else you’ve heard before. That’s why you must understand how to study for it. There’s no magic trick to doing well in biology. You need to just follow these five easy tips to help you ace your next exam.

How To Study For Biology In 5 Easy Ways:

1. Come To Class Prepared And Take Notes

Sometimes taking notes can seem a bit over the top. After all, most of what you’ll be taking notes on will be in the book right? And if it’s not in the book, then you’ll surely be able to find it online. While all of that is true, coming to class to take notes will help you discover how to study for biology. Taking notes will:

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Keep You Engaged

Let’s face it, there are times when class is boring and your mind may wander. Every once in a while, you’ll have a lecture that completely puts you to sleep. You’d rather put your head down, look on your computer, text with a friend or do anything else than be attentive in class. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

However, if you want to up your grade on your next biology exam, then you’ll want to take notes primarily because the activity itself forces you to keep your mind engaged with the material. You’ll be more likely to remain focused on the task at hand, and that is key to encoding the test material into your long-term memory.

More Likely to Retain Information

No matter how good you are, you simply will not retain everything you hear. In fact, studies show that we actually retain little of what we hear. If your professor provides visual aids with what they talk about it helps, but still there is a limit to what you’ll remember. When you combine taking notes with what you hear in a lecture (and see in visual aids), it’s proven that you’ll remember more of the material. That is because you’re forcing yourself to be physically engaged with the material. If you want to know how to study for biology, then you must be active in your studying — and that starts with taking notes!

​It’s on the Test!

​Above all else, the information your professor takes the time to talk about will be on the test. By taking notes in class, you’ll have your very own blueprint for which highlights to study because they will be on the test. So, head into class ready to take notes. You want to know how to study for biology? This is absolutely one of the best ways to prepare yourself.

2. Learn The Important Terminology And Drawings

​In every class you take, there will be certain lingo you will encounter — probably words you’ve never heard before. These words are specific to biology and key in your studies. You’ll want to learn them. The same can be said of any drawings that are presented by the teacher in class. You’ll get a better handle on how your professor gives tests after the first one.

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But if you haven’t taken your first test yet, then it’s important to study all terms and drawings. Then, after you see what was chosen for the exam, you’ll be able to fine tune how to study for biology ahead of future exams.

​Flash Cards

​One of the best ways to learn new and sometimes technical terminology is with the aid of flash cards. Write the new word on the blank side of the card, then flip the card to its ruled side and write the term’s definition, including any examples that make it clearer.

And, here’s the kicker: each time you add new words to the deck, take a couple minutes to go over the previous cards you’ve written. This way, you won’t feel like you’re cramming 100 words at once, but you’ll just be adding a few new definitions to your vernacular at a time.

Although most textbook softwares allow us to make electronic flash cards now, it is more effective for most students if they write the cards themselves. The process of doing so takes time, we realize, but doing so helps encode the information into our brains. It’s been proven that, the way our brains and memory work, anatomically, it is easier to build our learning and understanding of new words a few at a time during multiple visits to those words and their meanings.

3. Go From General To The Specifics

​When it comes to the best way of how to study for biology, one thing you want to avoid is trying to get too specific at the start. You need to understand the basic concepts before zeroing in on something specific. It would be like trying to do calculus without understanding addition and subtraction. So, start with the basic, early stuff, and then ease your way in. Want to know how to study for biology in this way?

​Look Back at Previous Information

If you’re trying to study something specific and it’s not making any sense, then it means you probably don’t remember the general concepts behind it. That’s okay. Everyone goes through it. It just means you need to go back and brush up on some information so you have some context for the new material. It’s better to cover some information again rather than to force yourself to memorize specifics of which you have no real understanding.

​In learning how to study for biology, you’re not trying to just do well on your exams. Your overall objective should be to learn and retain the material for use in your career later on. Attempting to remember something specific without knowing the general concepts is a bad idea, because you’ll confuse yourself and be much more likely to scramble it up on exams and, worse, in real life. So never feel bad or ashamed that you need to go back and brush up.

4. Take Advantage Of Lab Time

​Undoubtedly, there will be open “lab” times throughout the semester. These are times beyond the class period that are great for those who know how to study for biology. Chances are, the lab time is not even required, but we highly recommend you take advantage of it. Open labs are the best way to process information you’ve learned, retain that information (encode it into your long-term memory) and to understand the concept fully.

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​Go with Someone

​One of the best ways to take advantage of lab time and to improve how to study for biology is to go with someone else who is interested in doing well in the class, too. By going to lab with a classmate, you will feel accountable to someone else and more than likely you will go if you feel it is an obligation to someone other than yourself. There’s the added benefit of you both being able to keep each other on track.

5. Strategize Using Past Exam Questions

​Every professor is a little different in how they put together their exams. It will take a test or two before you can catch on to how an individual professor prefers to test, how he/she phrases their questions and how specific they will get in quiz material. To do your best on your exam, you’ll want to look at past exams and the questions on those. These exams will offer your insights into how to perform well and is one of the best ways we know how to study for biology.

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Keep Your Old Tests Handy

Look over your previous tests. You'll begin to see your professor's patterns. If you have been taking better notes, then you'll also discover how they focused on certain topics in class and then used this information on tests. Armed with the combination of your old tests to study and your current notes, we bet you'll be able to perform exceptionally well on your next exam. This is particularly true and important if your final exam is cumulative.

​​​No Exams? Study Everything

Now, if you haven't taken an exam yet, then you won't be able to gauge your professor's testing techniques and likely material. If you know someone who has taken the class from the same professor before you, it doesn't hurt to ask them about the tests and what they focused on. You can even ask them if they have an old test. While the test questions will probably change (so it's no use trying to study the order of answers or anything like that,) you can at least see how a professor asks questions, what they focus on and might be critical to study.

BONUS TIP: Buddy Up!

With the five tips we've given you, we are certain you know how to study for biology better. But we will give you one more piece of advice: buddy up!

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If you make a friend in class with someone who is interested as much as you are in making a good grade, you'll undoubtedly do better. You'll have a backup for note taking if you have to miss class due to illness, you'll have someone who can quiz you with flash cards, you'll have someone who can refresh your memory (and vice versa) over general concepts so you can better understand specifics, you'll have a buddy that encourages you to attend labs and you will have someone to help you analyze previous tests.

​Go Get That A!

​If you're looking to improve your performance on your next bio exam, you'll need to study. If you put forth the effort in studying the correct way, then you'll do just fine. And, the best part is, these tools we've given you will help you do well in all your other classes, too!

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