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First year Biology is a fantastic class, not only is it a class with surprisingly interesting material, it also exposes students to a wide variety of the various fields within biology and therefore may help you hone in on the type of biology most appealing to you. However, in order to succeed in the class, work is required – read on for some tips that will help you get that A!

1. There is a lot to memorize

There’s no way around it – first year biology has an insane amount of things to memorize! Don’t misunderstand; the information is at least for the most part quite interesting (especially if you’re a biology major!), but if you don’t stay on top of the material it can become quite overwhelming! It is therefore really important to constantly be going over your notes (and not passively – actively, meaning that highlighting and condensing are both necessary!)


2. Go to class – not everything in the textbook will be tested

The textbook for the class is ridiculously huge. Thankfully, professors are not cruel enough to make students memorize everything in said textbook and will therefore provide you with guidance in terms of what’s important and what’s not. Obviously anything in class is important, but the professor may point out particularly important chapters in the textbook.


3. Stay for the ENTIRE class – clicker questions are rarely at the beginning!

Biology students are required to purchase something called clickers – they are like a remote that allows students to answer questions when professors put them up on the screen. Because professors know how important it is to constantly be going over notes, each class they will present a few  “clicker questions” (which contribute to a small part of your grade) on the material taught in the previous class. Be warned – profs purposefully don’t do clicker questions at the beginning of the class to discourage students from coming to lecture just to answer the clicker questions, then leave.


4. Put a reminder in your calendar so you don’t miss pre-lab quizzes!

Pre-lab quizzes are short quizzes made available online for a period of time before that week’s lab. These quizzes are a great source for easy marks, so they are not something you want to miss! The quizzes, however, are only available for a short window (and not necessarily up until the night before your lab), so make sure you set some sort of reminder to ensure you don’t miss these valuable marks!

5. Don’t be afraid to ask lab TA’s for help

Biology labs differ from Chem labs in that all lab reports are handed in at the end of lab – that means that if you don’t understand how to properly fill out the reports, you can’t go to your friends for help after lab! Thankfully, biology labs usually have a much smaller TA to student ratio, meaning that getting help from your TA is usually easier. What does that mean? Take advantage of your TA during lab! If you have any questions about how to correctly fill out the lab report, don’t be afraid to approach them.


So it’s pretty obvious that first year biology is not a class that you can get through by coasting. However, it is a necessary class to take for many students so you might as well give it your best shot! Hopefully these tips will make the class a little easier and a little more enjoyable!


Lia Reed

Lia hopes to get her PhD in Clinical Psychology, so she'll be in school for a long time! Aside from that, she loves playing with her cat and tutoring (so she gets at least some human interaction!).

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