Clever Study Techniques for Your Biology Class

Hi, friends! This is the last post in the “Clever Study Techniques” series. I hope you have found it helpful. This is my favorite post of the series because I get to talk about my field of study: biology! My non-STEM major friends cringe when they hear me talk about biology (or as they like to call it, “talking nerdy”). With this post, I hope to make biology a more approachable and less intimidating subject for non-STEM majors. Here are some of the best ways to study for your biology class.


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Know the vocabulary, including prefixes and suffixes.

Knowing the vocabulary is a big part of biology. If you’re familiar with at least the prefixes and suffixes, you should have a good idea of what words mean. For example, the suffix -ase indicates an enzyme, like DNA polymerase…

Be able to explain processes.

There are MANY processes in biology (mitosis/meiosis, DNA replication, transcription/translation, cellular respiration, and photosynthesis, just to name a few). Be able to break them down and explain what happens each step of the way. Know where all the molecules go. Know how things get from point A to point B. A good way to practice is to draw a concept map. A concept map will help you visualize the process, and it’ll make it easier to see how it works. Another way to test your knowledge is to explain the process to someone who is not taking biology. If they can understand it after your explanation, you’re good to go!

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Pay special attention to diagrams.

This goes hand in hand with the previous point because many diagrams try to explain a process. Pay attention to the diagrams/figures in your textbook. Read the little description at the bottom of the figure. As tempting as it is to ignore it, don’t. It’s actually useful if you take the time to read and understand it. Copy the diagram on a piece of paper multiple times until you’ve memorized it.

Connect what you’re learning with something you already know.

Biology is the study of life. Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly surrounded by biology. If you are alive, chances are good that you have some practical understanding of how life works. For example, you know that we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. You can use this information to figure out that oxygen is one of the necessary inputs for cellular respiration and carbon dioxide is an output. Use what you already know about life as a platform for your new knowledge.

Use other sources of information

Sometimes, both the textbook and professor are hard to understand, and you just can’t grasp the concept. It happens. In that case, you should look for other sources of information to help clarify the concept. Even a simple Google or YouTube search can go a long way. For example, physiology was a challenging class for me, but thankfully, I found Hank Green’s Crash Course YouTube videos. I’m pretty sure those videos are the reason I passed physiology! Outside sources can be a big help when you’re confused, don’t be afraid to look for them and use them.

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Biology may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know the vocabulary, are able to explain processes, pay special attention to diagrams, and connect what you’re learning with something you already know, biology will be much easier to understand.

Check out other posts from the Clever Study Techniques Series:

How do you study for your biology class?


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  • Please do a post for Spanish/language classes! Vocab is kind of obvious but for grammar, conjugation, etc. I would love tips!

    • Hi, Madison! That’s such a great idea. I was planning on ending the series with this post, but I’m going to give your idea a try! Good luck with your language class 🙂