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biology Study skills
Biology Study Skills
Successful biology students have told us they study a minimum of 2 to 3 hours
per day, 7 days a week, throughout the semester.
Biology is hard work, so be aggressive. Take it as a challenge and give it
your time and your energy. Don't take it with lots of other hard courses
or a busy work load.
Know and understand all your terminology. This is one of the keys to success
in any field. In biology it is extremely helpful to begin by studying your
Latin and Greek roots. This is the basis for many seemingly difficult terms.
Study these roots. Make 3" x 5" flash cards to help you memorize them and
later do the same with your terminology.
Biology teachers have reported that if something is brought into the lab,
it is guaranteed that you will be tested on it. So pay attention to whatever
is brought into lab, even its name.
Chemistry is not a prerequisite for taking biology at Pima College,
but taking a chemistry course before taking biology would be exceedingly
Make it a practice to read over the topic or chapter before going to your
Attend all classes and be an active listener. It is important to be alert
and concentrate on what is said in lecture. Successful students take full
and comprehensive notes, writing down about 66% of what is said in lecture,
while failing students write half as much. It is most important to stay current.
Do not allow yourself to miss classes and fall behind or the entire course
will become an effort and a struggle for you.
After class go over the material as soon as possible and again 8 hours later.
Studies have shown that you are more likely to remember the information later.
Fill in all the missing words or incomplete explanations. Recite important
concepts in your own words.
Always remember you have the right to ask questions before, during and after
class. See your instructors during their office hours for help. Notice when
you are beginning to get in trouble and seek help immediately.
Read and study all your textbook explanations. You may wish to use at least
two or more books. These books are often available in the library. Each book
has a different discussion and examples on your topic, and one of these is
likely to be helpful to you.
Whenever possible explain aloud to another person what you are learning.
Work with a classmate and explain terminology and concepts to each other.
Describe in your own words the similarities and differences between the different
concepts you are learning. Do this aloud with someone else.
If biology is your most difficult subject, then always study it before all
other subjects. You must study biology when you are most alert and fresh.
Make sure to take 5 or 10 minute breaks every 2040 minutes in order
to clear your mind.
Write up summary sheets of biology terminology and concepts and review often.
The more you review the more you'll remember. Also visually picture the terms
in your minds eye. Visualizing is a powerful technique for remembering terms.
Break words into small chunks and picture each chunk until you can recall
it. Then put the chunks together. Remember, the knowledge of roots can be
Making up mnemonics memory techniques may be fun as well as beneficial. For
example, if you need to remember the 12 cranial nerves you can take the first
letter of each nerve and make up a sentence where each word begins with the
first letter of each nerves.
Create sample tests for yourself and test yourself often.
Give yourself timed tests similar to those you expect in class. Time yourself
with a kitchen timer or an alarm. Practice, practice, practice.
Review the types of errors you make and types of questions that cause you
difficulty. Give yourself more practice in these areas of difficulty.
If possible, have a friend or family member quiz you on your notes and text
information. Done regularly this commits more information to longterm
By Cindy Arem Ph.D. and Paul Johnson, Pima Community College
Since December 1999 - last modified: February 22, 2012