What to Expect in an Introductory Biology course

Introductory biology courses in college are different at every institution. Some focus on cellular and molecular/body systems and others focus more on research.  Depending on what college a high school student/biology major is looking at, this is an important aspect to look at. 

Every college biology class has a three- or four-hour laboratory session once a week on a topic that was covered in class.

If the course is more focused on research, the class will focus on how to start your own experiment and what is expected into starting your own research.  This will consist of working on the scientific method, which is coming up with a hypothesis, writing out a procedure, and then in the laboratory session, doing the experiment to see what the results will be. 

A laboratory report will then be written with a procedure, results, discussion, and an introduction with extra research by other scientists on a topic like yours.

Still in a research-focused class, animal behavior will be studied, like how animals interact with one another, traits, reproduction, a small amount of genetics, and evolution/Darwinism. 

Some professors have quizzes once a week with two exams – the midterm and a final.  This kind of course is not the best for those interested in medical school, since body systems and genetics are not fully taught.  Some portions of this may show up on the MCAT, but not really on the biology part.

Biology classes that are on cellular and molecular biology will teach the student basic genetics and how cells work together.  Mitosis and meiosis, also known as cell division, will be taught, as well as the base pairs for DNA and a little history of DNA. 

There may also be an introduction to body systems. This way when the student enters the upper-level biology courses, like Human Anatomy and Physiology, they will have a basic understanding of how the body works.   

For those who are pre-med, this is the kind of introductory biology course to take.  The laboratory sessions here will be plasmids, enzymes, how to use a micropipette, and maybe a dissection.

In conclusion, depending on what you want to do with a bachelor’s degree in biology, looking into the introductory biology courses will be very important.  Ending up as a pre-med student in a research-focused biology course may turn the student off of biology because they are not doing what they love to do or are what they are planning to do for a career.