How to Succeed in BIO 170 - Organismal Biology


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. Youre responsible for your own attendance, so its easy to give in to all of those "other things" that you could be doing rather than going to class. If you absolutely cant make a class, arrange to get the notes from someone quickly, so that youre 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 (especially exams!). Things lose points (5% per FMCC school day) for being late, and its 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 are being issued and due dates are coming up, well ahead of time.

If you have a disability that may affect your performance on some assignments, make it known. The FMCC Advising Center has personnel to help accommodate students with physical and learning disabilities.   More information is available at .

Stay awake. If youre 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 havent - 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 whats written on the overheads, but later when they need to get exam information from it, they havent written enough to bring all of the information back. Only you can know how much you need to write down so your notes are useful later - and if you cant use them, what good are they?

Pay attention to question wording on exams. Often, some phrase has been included, almost word-for-word, that will let you know when you have found the correct information.

Be careful answering exam questions. Your answers are supposed to be "in your own words," to demonstrate some understanding of answers youve found in the material. Dont overanswer - you need to answer completely, but putting too much down may indicate that you dont really understand the material after all. Answer all parts - often, questions have more than one part, and you wont get full credit if you answer just a piece. Also, answer fully - some answers, especially on later exams, are meant to be drawn from more than one source.

Understand topic requirements when choosing a paper subject. Each topic has its own particular slant, and not all subjects will fit. Also, make sure you can find enough information on your chosen subject before you actually put your proposal in. You dont want to find out a week before the due date of the paper that you cant get anything to write about! Make sure to get your proposal in on time (or early) - they dont count for many points, but a review of your intentions can get you headed off the wrong path, or directed down some useful ones, or both. And review the topic requirements before you actually start writing your paper.

In the lab, understand what youre supposed to be doing. And before you leave, make certain that you can do everything left to do, including answering questions. If you dont understand them then, they wont get clearer at home.

Important Points:

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

Use Mr McDarby as a resource. You can get you paper precorrected (you just need to do it at least a couple of days early), both proofread and criticized for proper content. If an exam question seems unclear, ask for a clarification. If youre not sure youre answering a lab exercise correctly, ask!

Read the materials (or at least skim them) as you get them. It will give you a good opportunity to review class material, and the different approach may make the ideas much clearer. Reading through the handouts will make the exams easy, since everything will sound familiar, and occasionally youll run across inconsistencies or disagreements you may want to ask about before they become test points.

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

Dont 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 wont have to go into any more detail then youre comfortable with, and it may be difficult to do, but afterward youll feel better and Mr. McDarby will better understand whats going on, which can be important for students who finish the semester near a cut-off mark.

Use the Librarys Learning Commons. You can get individual tutors for no charge, or help with writing assignments in the writing lab. Make sure the writing tutors know that youre writing for McDarby, or they will assume you need standard English formatting.

Give yourself time to get things done! The work for this class will eat up a lot of time, for exams, papers, and sometimes for lab reports. If you structure your time so that you can get chunks of work done each day, you shouldnt wind up with a huge pile of things to do but no time to do them.

Items which can be Useful:

Read ahead when possible. Its amazingly useful to come to class with some acquaintance with the material - just ask people whove had it before in high school or elsewhere. You dont 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!

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 cant help but see it or get in the habit of checking it regularly.

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 somethings unclear, come in and ask about it, especially if its just as unclear after its covered in class.

Dont assume! Its always safer to ask.

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




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