SCI 139 - Animal & Plant Biology

The Secret to Success.


Do you want to do well in this course? Do you want to get by? In either case, here's a list of items that should help you, "borrowed" from those students who have done well here in the past, and put into a convenient prioritized format.

The Really Important Stuff...

Come to every class. If you absolutely can't get to class, arrange to get the notes from someone and fill in with the book before the next class, so you aren't starting behind. Coming to laboratory is even more essential - You might be able to sit in with another lab section if you get word to Mr. McDarby as soon as possible.

Get materials in by their due dates. Youll lose 5% per school day for each day something is late, which means a letter grade drop every other day. Be careful - once somethings late, its easy to let it lapse further while you work on things that haven't yet come due, and lose more and more credit.

Keep track of your calendar! All of the important dates are scheduled at the beginning of the semester, and don't change under most circumstances, so you already have plenty of warning on exam dates and the days that proposals and papers are due.

Put your introductory handouts somewhere that you can easily find them later. You may need to double check dates, or office hours, or make-up policies.

Write your notes to suit yourself! They are useless if they dont bring back the information, and just copying what's written by Mr. McDarby during class may give you something that makes no sense come studying time.

Paying attention, difficult though it may be, makes it easier to absorb the information. If you're sleepy or distracted, you'll have that much more trouble, so do what you can to prepare yourself ahead of time. Coming up with ways to deal with tired or distracting days - everyone has them - will also serve you well.

In the lab, try to have some idea of what you're doing before you start, and pay attention to directions and warnings. Before leaving, make certain that you've done everything that had to be done there. If there are follow-up questions, look them over - make sure that you'll be able to answer them before you leave.

When you are first planning your papers, make sure that you understand the requirements that go with each of the topics, then check early that you can actually track down sufficient information for your chosen subject to write a whole paper. Get proposals in on time, or even early - they aren't worth much, point-wise, but they provide an early-warning system for students that are headed down the wrong path.

When you sit down to actually write your paper, review the topic requirements so that youre actually writing what you need to.

Look at the old exams and keys available online. Get used to how questions get asked. The questions are often linked to the bookís related passages for checking, and there are answer keys. But donít only learn old questions - it will be asked differently when itís your turn!

On exams, pay close attention to wording on questions - an "explain" question is looking for different information than a "describe" or "list" question. If a question is unclear, ask about it. In sections where only a certain number of questions need to be answered, make sure that you answer just that number - extra answers won't be included in corrections. Note also multipart questions, and try not to overanswer - you can move an apparently right answer into the wrong zone with too much information.

Use the Learning Center in the Library if you need to.  Tutoring and help on papers is available, but also support for people with learning disabilities.  Fulton-Montgomery Community College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations, including core services, to qualified students with disabilities. For additional information go to: .


Pretty Important Stuff...

Don't let dates sneak up on you - check your calendar periodically.  There is a calendar in the lab you can check as well.

Back up class materials with the book and the links. It's ideal to read fully, but dont feel better if "skimming" is the best you can do. If you find inconsistencies between class and written materials, and these aren't addressed in class, ask about them - they may indicate a point that you dont fully understand, but at any rate they should be cleared up.

When things aren't clear in class, ask about them. If you didn't understand it, chances are that you're not alone, but that often isn't clear to the speaker.

When writing reports, go over all of the handouts, all of the directions, including the marking sheet, so you know just what mistakes to avoid.

Start your paper early enough that if you run into a snag, you'll have time to ask for help or clarifications.

Pay attention to the odd stories and connections given as illustrations in class - they very often show up on exams as bonus questions.


Kind of Important Stuff...

If life is getting in the way of your doing your best, especially if it is affecting your attendance, let Mr. McDarby know. You won't have to go into any more detail than you feel comfortable with, but it will give him something beyond the obvious explanations if you're not doing well, and will probably make you feel better as well.

Read ahead when you can - even a brief glimpse will lay the groundwork for material to make more sense in class, and you'll be forewarned of the really difficult concepts that require more than ordinary focus.

Dont forget that the basic underlying focus of lab is reading and following directions, so read lab handouts fully. Dont forget that laboratory has its own quizzes, so there will be an opportunity to use the information you gain there both to flesh out lecture notes and in later labs.

"Correct" your first paper draft with the marking sheet, then revise accordingly.

Get help when you start to feel lost. Mr. McDarby is available during office hours, but if those hours don't fit your schedule, other arrangements can be made. Also, as mentioned above, the Learning Center in the Library has tutors, for no charge, for the course who can help a lot.

Hang on to all of your class handouts - preferably in a dedicated folder.


Stuff that Couldn't Hurt...

Set up an actual calendar marked with all of the important events and put it somewhere that you can't help but see it every day, or post advance warnings ("Two weeks to exam," "Paper due next Monday," etc.). Note that there is a calendar posted in the lab.

When exams loom ahead, clear your regular schedule enough to give yourself plenty of studying time.

Find yourself a "class buddy" (this is probably easier to do during a lab session) - someone who lives near you. Exchange names and phone numbers, and later, you'll have someone to maybe get notes from if you miss a day, or even get a ride from if your car fails, perhaps even study with.

Finish reports far enough ahead of time to take advantage of the Mr. McDarby review service - proofreading and content critique, usually within 24 hours.

Develop little "tricks" for scanning materials and retaining information.

When the readings seems unclear, make notes to yourself and ask about it.

Use the Metacognition Lab to fine-tune your approach to the material and the instruction.

                It's better to ask than to just assume!