Many come to the University of Miami to engage with the fantastic pre-med resources available. However, going pre-med is not an easy track to pursue regardless of what university you attend. At every step of the way, there will be obstacles whether that be in the form of shadowing opportunities, research, or the demands of the pre-med curriculum. As a pre-med freshman at the University of Miami one of your hardest classes will be Biology 150 (BIL150). Here are 4 ways to ensure that you successfully maneuver your way through this weed out class.

1. Pay Careful Attention To The Syllabus

No matter what professor you have, read the syllabus extremely carefully. This is because there will always be ways to maximize your points outside of midterms and the final, giving you some leeway for error in your exams. Analyze the percentage breakdown for online homework, quizzes(if applicable), workshops and exams then divide your attention and energy accordingly. Surviving BIL150 is about being calculative and rigorous. For example, it’s always a good idea to put a lot of effort into your Mastering Biology homework because depending on your professor it could be worth up to 1/3rd of your final grade. However, the only way to figure out is only through reading the syllabus.

2. Always Study Ahead

BIL150 is probably one of the most content heavy classes you will take in freshman year. There are probably 20+ chapters that you will end up covering, each requiring the painful memorization of nitty gritty details. In order to ensure that you don’t feel lost during lectures when esoteric molecule names, compounds and processes are being tossed about make sure that you read ahead. Take half an hour to an hour every day to read through the material for the next lecture and start to digest it. This way, you’ll feel accomplished and energized during the lectures because you actually understand what’s going on. Take control of the learning process and success in BIL150 is bound to come your way.

3. Prepare for exams by doing practice questions

BIL 150 exams are comprised purely of multiple choice questions. Whilst this sounds seemingly straightforward, the exams are tough because they demand analysis and application rather than rote memorization of every single page in your textbook. The best way to prepare for the exams is therefore to do a bunch of practice questions. Whether from your Campbell Biology textbook, online question banks or your Mastering Biology homework assignments, make sure to drill yourself repeatedly with challenging questions. If you do, you will definitely be prepared for the exams.

4. Go to office hours

Due to the large number of students that take BIL150, it is very rare that the professor will have time to stop and clarify or revisit concepts for individual students in the lecture hall. Furthermore, if you do manage to have your question answered during the lecture, it is likely that the answer you receive will be rushed and unsatisfactory due to the time constraints of a 50 minute lecture. Thus, make sure you go see your professor during their office hours if you have any doubts on the course material. As a freshman, this can be extremely scary. However, you’ll find that professors are more than willing to take their time and explain concepts to you during their office hours because they understand how demanding BIL150 is as a course. Plus, it never hurt anyone to establish a great relationship with a professor from day 1.

It is important to note that the above tips do not make a foolproof recipe for acing BIL150. They are merely tips to help make your life a little easier. At the end of the day, with a class like BIL150, your success is dependent on how much effort you put into the class. If you take the time to really digest the material and synthesize your understanding, you’ll pass with flying colors.


James Lai

I'm an undergrad currently at the University of Miami. I'm pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering on the pre-med track and absolutely love it here at the U.

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