BI 171 - Modern Biology

How To Succeed



All of these items are easier to say than to do, but the students who do well in class are the ones who actually do these things...

Items close to Essential:

Come to every class. You're responsible for your own attendance, so it's easy to give in to all of those "other things" that you could be doing rather than going to class. If you absolutely can't make a class, arrange to get the notes from someone quickly, so that you're not lost at the next class. Labs are even more important, but they can often be made up, if you make arrangements quickly enough.

Hand things in when they are due. Things lose points for being late, and it's easy to let them slide when you miss that first deadline - but those points add up (or subtract down). Lateness gives good work mediocre grades, and mediocre work becomes failing grades.

Keep track of your schedule. Be sure you know when exams, quizzes, and due dates are coming up well ahead of time.

Stay awake. If you're halfway to Dreamland coming to class, most classes will put you there. Try to make sure that your schedule puts a wide-awake student in your seat (that means you, Sleepy!) Also, it can be almost as bad to be distracted by things you should have done but haven't - putting things off or avoiding them can hurt you in other areas as well.

Hang on to your handouts. You may need that information later (office hours, due dates, make-up policies...), especially about later assignments.

Write notes that you can use. Most people just copy what's written on the overheads, but later when they study it, it's not enough to bring all of the information back. Only you can know how much you need to write down so your notes are useful for studying - and if you can't use them for studying, what good are they?

Use exam study sheets. The study sheet have 2 basic uses: it tells you all of the information you should have in your notes, and it tells you what information will be covered by the exam. They are not meant to be stand-alone study aids, although some students use them sort of like "flash cards."

Make use of the online Past Exams. Exams given for the past several years are available online. This is especially important going into the first exam, since it will allow you to get familiar with the typical exam format. Notice that questions online are linked to those parts of the book that deal with them. There are also answer keys available that provide answers as well as brief explanations of those answers.

Be honest! You should be familiar with FMCC's Academic Integrity Policy. This refers to the code of values, based on educational, ethical, and legal concerns, that support our ability to deliver a properly deliver this course. You must be familiar with the standards expected of you, and you will be held accountable for them. You can't use unfamiliarity as an excuse - this is part of the student handbook, and you are responsible for understanding its requirements.

If you require additional consideration due to a disability:  Fulton-Montgomery Community College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations, including core services, to qualified students with disabilities. For additional information go to: .

Make sure you understand lab assignments. Know ahead of time what the requirements for your lab assignments are. It's frustrating to do a decent abstract on an inappropriate article or on a website that isnít really a major website. In the lab, make sure you understand what you're supposed to be doing, and make sure you understand everything that needs to be understood or written up before you leave. If there are follow-up questions, make sure you can understand them before leaving.


Important Points:

Ask questions. When a lecture is confusing, ask for a clarification. It's tough to be the one who asks, but if it's not clear to you, it's probably not clear to many others in the room. An instructor can't always tell if the points are getting across without some feedback.

Read the book. It will give you a good opportunity to review class material, and the different approach may make the ideas much clearer. It will warn you what material we're not concentrating on, so you're not confused during exam studying, and occasionally you'll run across inconsistencies or disagreements you want to ask about before they become test points.

Read lab assignment handouts before you start the assignments. And while you're doing the assignments, don't hesitate to come in and ask questions if you are not sure about something.

Don't suffer in silence. If outside problems are affecting your classwork, especially if it makes it hard for you to attend class or lab, stop in and let Mr. McDarby know. You won't have to go into any more detail then you're comfortable with, and it may be difficult to do, but afterward you'll feel better and Mr. McDarby will better understand what's going on, which can be important for students who finish the semester near a cut-off mark.

Use the Library's Learning Center. You can also get individual tutors, help with writing assignments, or aid in setting up study groups.

Follow the links. The text is connected to sites that give additional information and/or alternative approaches to the material - they are worth checking out.


Items which can be Useful:

Read ahead. It's amazingly useful to come to class with some acquaintance with the material - just ask people who've had it before in high school or elsewhere. You don't have to understand everything, just being somewhat familiar will help tremendously.

Read lab materials fully.
Remember, the lab classes are really about how well you can follow directions!

While studying, understand what sorts of materials wind up in the long-answer section. Long answer questions, which count for lots of points, tend to focus on three areas that you can watch for while you're studying: 1) complicated ideas that would take space to explain; 2) lists that can amount to many parts, such as long lists or lists of things with definitions; 3) comparisons between different concepts or groups (list of similarities or differences, or both).

Notice potential Bonus Questions in lecture. Odd connections and unusual examples often wind up in the bonus section of exams.


Little Extras:

Set up a personal calendar. Mark all of the pertinent upcoming dates for the semester and either put it where you can't help but see it or get in the habit of checking it regularly.

Plan your exam "persona." Is it better for you to be rested and relaxed for an exam or crammed and a bit wired? Try to set yourself up so that you can perform your best.

Make connections - get a "class buddy." Try to find someone in class - lab is a good place to do this - who lives near you. Exchange names and phone numbers so that you can get notes if you need them, or maybe catch a ride if you need one.

While reading, write down questions. If something's unclear, come in and ask about it, especially if it's just as unclear after it's covered in class.

Use the chapter-ending sections as study tools.

Finish lab assignments ahead of time and get them looked over. You can revise them before they're due.

Develop "study tricks." Flash cards, study groups, rhymes, songs, whatever will help the material to stick in your memory.

Don't assume! It's always safer to ask.

Get or stay in shape. A more efficient physical system tends to support a more efficient mental system. It's worth the time and effort.




Textbook:  Online Introduction to Biology (Advanced)

Copyright 2006 -2016, Michael McDarby.

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