How I Managed A 4.0 In College Biology

Authored by: Aaron Z.

This was my strategy:

  1. preview the information for that day’s lecture. doesn’t have to be anything intense, for me it was like 15 minutes skimming the assigned textbook pages or lecture slides (if posted ahead of time) before class. just getting a feel for what would be covered that day, what I already knew or didn’t know, what the major takeaways might be.
  2. go to lecture, and actually try to pay attention. I took handwritten notes since I get way too distracted with my laptop open. Also, record lecture if the professor allows.
  3. that same day, review the lecture, listening to my recording to fill in anything i missed or couldn’t read (since my writing is a lot slower/messier than typing)
  4. if there was anything I didn’t understand, I’d write down the question & go to the next possible office hour. This helps you stay on top of the material instead of having a bajillion questions just before the test, and is especially important if it’s a cumulative course where new information is going to build upon what you previously learned.
  5. before the test day, I’d try to draw / write out all the relevant information that is covered on the test, without looking at my notes. this was important for me because I realized that it was really easy for me to be like “mhm, yup, that makes sense” as I was just passively reading through my notes in front of me, but then wouldn’t be able to reproduce/recall the info if I was trying to apply it to a problem or whatever. I’m also a very visual person so I would color-code things and stuff and that I feel helped the information stick better in my head
  6. once I felt that I was good with the info on my own, getting together with a group and talking through it, doing practice problems together, etc. helped to kinda tie everything together. But it was really important that I do this once I was sure that I knew the information on my own… otherwise, I’d fall into the same trap of passively listening to other people say things and being like “mhm yup yup i got all that” and then I’d go home and realize I actually did not know the info lol

*edit: seeing this all written out I realize it sounds really intense lmao but it was easily manageable as long as I was consistent with it. plus it resulted in me always getting good grades so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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