How to Ace Bio

How to ace Biology class

  1. Learn Latin! No, you don’t have to be fluent, it is a “dead language” after all. But knowing your Latin roots is a valuable help. Biology is full of strange words that need to be memorized. Endotherm, hemophilia, cephalization, echinoderm, autotroph, mesoderm…the list goes on. It can get overwhelming, and you aren’t going to remember everything. The good news is that knowing your Latin roots will let you “fake” your way through words you’ve never seen before, and remember words that you probably knew a while ago. Take echinoderm. If you know that “echino” means spiny, and “derm” means skin, you know you are talking about something with spiny skin. What has spiny skin? Sea urchins! Echinoderms are members of the sea urchin family, including sea stars and sea cucumbers. How about autotroph? Well, “auto” means self, and “troph” means food. Self food…what organisms make their own food? Plants! Now you can avoid being bogged down in big scary looking words, even if you have never seen them before.
  2. Pretty colors. Biology involves more than writing. You need to be able to recognize images and figures, as a lot of biological learning comes across visually. Would you rather explain what a cell looks like with words or with a picture? A picture is usually much easier to understand. This is where the colors come in. When you are labeling and drawing figures for different biological concepts, try to use different colors for the different pieces. This will help the image stick in your mind, and differentiate between the important parts. When you think back to remember the image on a test, it will be much easier to remember what “the purple part” of the cell was rather than the gray part in a gray picture. Color coding your flashcards works the same way; the color will help the word stick in your memory and your recall will be faster.
  3. Repetition. Let’s face it, biology takes a lot of memorization, more than most subjects. You are going to have to sit down and memorize the process of cellular respiration, the different amino acids, the phylogeny of birds. The fastest and most reliable way to do this is to write down the info. Then write it again. And again, and again, and again until it becomes easy. Physically writing down information you have to know can really cement that info in your long term memory, especially for things that aren’t pictures, but just words or names you have to know. Instead of passively looking at a textbook page, fill up pages with the Krebs cycle if you need to, or the reactions of photosynthesis, or the structure of amino acids. By test time writing the whole thing down will be second nature, and getting an A will be a piece of cake.

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