Transitioning into college life and adjusting to the curriculum can be difficult. This is especially true for Biology majors at UC Irvine. The quarter system goes by very quickly, and by week two you’ll already be staring at your computer in disbelief that your first chemistry exam is only a couple days away! Being a Biology major can seem overwhelming due to the many biology, chemistry, and lab classes one has to take. However, following these simple tips can make a huge difference in excelling at the major:
1. NEVER skip class!
Skipping class to sleep in and catching up on the missed lecture material can seem like a good idea at the time, but this will result in you getting behind in the class. Go to lecture to listen to what the professor has to say and get your questions answered. During lecture, the professor will mention key terms that he or she wants you to know for the exam. They will also answer many questions and provide useful commentary to the lecture material that you will not be able to hear if you do not go to lecture. Although it seems painful to wake up for a 8:00 am Biology lecture, it will be worth it when test day comes around!
2. Take good notes
Taking good notes will help you organize the lecture material and allow you to look back at the notes for a clear understanding of the lecture. Notes that are taken with different colored pens can help keep your notes neat and organized. Other great ways to keep good notes is to use a highlighter to highlight important information, or use bullet points to get important details down. This is especially true for biology classes, since there is so much information to jot down in a short lecture.
3. Form study groups
It is a great idea to form a study group consisting of 3-4 people who are also in the class you are studying for. Study groups are beneficial because they allow for you to learn information from other students. Additionally, you can teach concepts that you know to the people in your study group.
4. Plan your science curriculum
At UC Irvine, Biology students have to typically take a Biology course along with a Chemistry course and lab or a Physics course and lab throughout all four years. Biology class and lab, in addition to a Chemistry curse and lab, can be quite the handful. Be sure to add at least one General Education requirement course that does not require too much work so that you can get a break from the hard sciences during the quarter. Also, be sure to take other hard classes such as Calculus, etc. when you are taking easier Biology classes, or during the summer. This will help ease the already tough workload that Biology students have to carry.
5. Go to office hours
Going to office hours for Biology and Chemistry courses will not only help you learn material or get your questions answered, but you will also develop a great relationship with your professor. Having a good relationship with your professors is important because you may feel more inclined to perform better in the course. Additionally, knowing your science professors will come in handy when you need a letter of recommendation to join a lab, apply to graduate schools, and more!
Being a Biology major is tough, but you can do it! If you follow these simple tips, you will already be ahead of your fellow Biology peers. Studying hard and making an effort to go to class, meeting with your professors, and taking good notes will help you learn lecture material and score high on test days. Good luck!