Studying Biology can be challenging for students, as biology courses are very unique compared to the other math or science courses. Biology requires an understanding of complex biological systems and interactions, as well as a knowledge of terms and definitions. Because biology courses are so different from chemistry or physics courses, students will want to use different study techniques in order to put themselves in the best possible position to succeed in these courses. With this in mind, here are 5 study tips to help students as they study biology:
- Cue Cards for Key Terms – A big part of biology is memorizing key terms and definitions. Cue cards can be a great tool for helping with memorizing a large number of terms. Write the term on one side, and the definition on the other. Flip through them all in a random order, and test your knowledge of the definitions as you go. The ones you get right, put in one pile, and the ones you do not get right, put in another pile. Then spend time focusing on the cards you did not know. Every 5 to 10 rounds, complete a round with ALL of the cards included to ensure that you do not forget the terms that got right in previous rounds.
- Think of Systems as a Story – Whether it’s the Nitrogen Cycle, or the process for DNA replication, Biology requires the understanding of many complex systems and flows. Thinking of these systems and flows as a story can be a helpful technique, as each of these flows has a clear beginning, middle, and end. This can help with remembering the key steps and processes that form these systems. You can even practice telling the “story”, either to a family member or friend, and this can be a helpful way for you to remember the story for your quiz or test.
- Practice Filling Out Diagrams – Whether it’s the structures in the heart, or the organelles in a cell, Biology quizzes and tests will often require that you to fill in diagrams with the names of key structures and processes. With this in mind, get a copy of the key diagrams, and make multiple copies for yourself with the key terms removed. Then, practice filling out the diagram multiple times, checking to ensure that you are properly labelling the various structures and processes. This practice can be very helpful once you sit down to write your quiz or test.
- Practice Sample Multiple Choice Questions – Biology tests, unlike tests for Chemistry or Physics, will often include a lot of multiple choice questions. It is important to get comfortable with the types of questions that your teacher will ask you on your test. Try to get sample questions, or old quizzes or tests from your teacher, and use them to get comfortable with the types of questions that you should expect to see.
- Process of Elimination – One test writing technique that is good to practice as you prepare for your Biology quiz or test is process of elimination. If you are ever faced with a multiple-choice question that you are not sure of the answer to, take the time to narrow the answers you are considering through process of elimination. Look through the answers, and ask yourself “are any of these answers for sure wrong?” If they are, cross them off as potential answers, and this will help you to focus your attention on the potential correct answers. A multiple-choice question is much more manageable if there are only 2 or 3 answers to choose from, as opposed to 4 or 5!