Tips for Studying Biology

The biological sciences include a vast range of disciplines, including field biology, computational biology, genetics, bioinformatics, structural biology, microbiology, zoology, and systems biology. Studying for biology can be a demanding task, requiring memorization of terms, parts, pathways, molecules, scientists, and formulas. Despite the daunting task it presents, there are a number of methods to aid in studying biology.

STEALTH STUDYING

This is by far the most effective way to study for any subject matter. It involves small study sessions “hidden” throughout your day. After lectures or reading, take a few minutes to jot down key notes or ideas on index cards. Review these when you are waiting in line, eating a meal, walking from one place to other, or during some other form of downtime. This constant reinforcement greatly increases your ability to retain information and recall that information later. It takes some work, but it pays off by minimizing the stress of last minute cramming. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave much room for procrastination, so you must be willing to start early and keep working.

DIAGRAMS

One of the keys to studying effectively is to utilize different forms of information. Don’t just study notes. Instead, draw diagrams or pictures to help illustrate the information. Study these diagrams alongside your notes to further reinforce the information and help retain it.

STUDY GROUPS

Explaining information and teaching others is a great way to help teach yourself. Form a study group with others who want to learn the same material. Split the material up and take turns presenting the information to each other. Ask each other questions and meet multiple times to make sure you have adequate time to fully grasp the material.

TAKE THOROUGH NOTES

If your presenter uses a slide show to present information about a topic, refrain from simply copying the slide. Instead, try to focus on the meat of the material and take thorough notes. This way when you go back to your notes to study, you will find yourself with fewer questions and less confusion. Thorough notes take the guesswork out of studying and make it easier to study in a crunch time.

ASK QUESTIONS

Do not be afraid to ask your classmates and instructors questions. Take advantage of review sessions or other out of class opportunities to find the answers to the questions you have. To do this all effectively, you must begin studying early. That way you have your questions well thought out before you ask them, increasing your chances of having your question effectively answered.