Basic Tips to Ace Your Biology Class

Student working at desk in library
Acing your biology class requires hard work and effective study strategies.

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Taking a biology class doesn't have to be overwhelming. If you follow a few simple steps, studying will be less stressful, more productive, and result in better grades.

  • Always read the lecture material before class. This simple step will pay big dividends.
  • Always sit in the front of the class. It minimizes distractions and gives you an opportunity for your professor to know who you are.
  • Use effective study techniques like comparing notes with a friend, not cramming, and making sure to start studying well before exams.

Biology Study Tips

Always read the lecture material before the classroom lecture. This simple step is surprisingly powerful and effective. By preparing beforehand, your time in the actual lecture will be more productive. The basic material will be fresh in your mind and you will have the opportunity to get any questions answered during the lecture.

  1. Biology, like most sciences, is hands-on. Most of us learn best when we are actively participating in a topic. So make sure to pay attention in biology lab sessions and actually perform the experiments. Remember, you won't be graded on your lab partner's ability to perform an experiment, but your own.
  2. Sit in the front of the class. Simple, yet effective. College students, pay close attention. You'll need recommendations one day, so make sure your professor knows you by name and you aren't 1 face in 400.
  3. Compare biology notes with a friend. Since much of biology tends to be abstract, have a "note buddy." Each day after class compare notes with your buddy and fill in any gaps. Two heads are better than one!
  4. Use the "lull" period between classes to immediately review the biology notes you have just taken.
  5. Don't cram! As a rule, you should start studying for biology exams a minimum of two weeks prior to the exam.
  6. This tip is very important—stay awake in class. Teachers have observed too many people snoozing (even snoring!) in the middle of class. Osmosis may work for water absorption, but it won't work when it comes time for biology exams.

Additional Study Tips

  1. Avail yourself of your teacher's or professor's office hours, review sessions, and similar activities. In these sessions, you are able to get any questions answered directly from the source.
  2. Many schools have excellent tutorial programs that are a great resource for getting questions answered.

Studying for the AP Bio Exam 

Those who wish to gain credit for introductory college level biology courses should consider taking an Advanced Placement Biology course. Students enrolled in the AP Biology course must take the AP Biology exam to gain credit. Most colleges will give credit toward entry level biology courses for students who earn a score of 3 or better on the exam. If taking the AP Biology exam, it is a good idea to use good AP Biology exam prep books and flash cards to be sure that you are prepared to score high on the exam.

Key Takeaways

  • Always read the lecture material before class. This simple step will pay big dividends.
  • Always sit in the front of the class. It minimizes distractions and gives you an opportunity for your professor to know who you are.
  • Use effective study techniques like comparing notes with a friend, not cramming, and making sure to start studying well before exams.