Countdown to Bio – Part 2: Biology Preparation

By Joseph Bloom in Study
24th of October 2016
Biology preparation

Being a VCE student is always stressful, especially around exams. Now, if you’ve been lucky you will have a plan right now. You’ll know what you are studying, when and how you’re going to study best over the next few days. And maybe you’re super diligent and feel as though you’re completely on top of your Biology preparation.

If that’s you, then take the following points as added tips. Take what you need and ignore the rest.

On the other side of the student population will be… most students. You guys are somewhat prepared and are probably going back and forth between stress and confidence right now. So the following advice will help you balance out that stress and capitalise on that confidence for your Biology preparation.


Step 1: Know. Your. Schedule.

Make sure you have a comprehensive exam/study schedule. It should have 3 layers. Like a very small onion. Or a cake. Cakes have layers. It shouldn’t have too many layers like an ogre or anything.

Layer 1 is your exam schedule. Know when and where you’re doing the exams and how you are getting there.

Layer 2 is your study schedule. When are you studying for which subjects? And when are you in classes or meeting with teachers? When will you be doing your Biology preparation for the exam?

Don’t lose time by not being organised! Make sure you get the study done before the exam that you want to. There’s few worse reasons to lose marks than because you forgot to revise one thing that you knew you needed to.

Layer 3 is your personal (almost biological) schedule. Know your bedtime. Know when you’re going to take a break and get some fresh air. You don’t even have to be particularly precise – just make sure you’re keeping track of these sorts of things. They’re vitally important.

I find that writing out my timetable on whiteboard is particularly useful because I can edit it easily and it’s physically there in my study space so it’s hard to ignore.


Step 2: Keep it balanced

It’s easy to exhaust yourself over preparing for biology by reading what feels like the entire study design every single day. If this is you then you know you’re working hard, but be careful to keep a good balance.

It’s kind of ironic that Biology students sometimes forget to keep an eye on their health.

This links back to what I was saying about your schedule having time to sleep and eat and exercise etc. but it also goes beyond that. Students that pace themselves last longer in stressful study periods and do better on exams.

Don’t burn out – even if that means taking an entire day off if you have to. Panic attacks and meltdowns will slow your study down much more than any day you take off to rest.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably not the slacker sort of student in general, but if you are – keeping balanced means that you break up study with healthy relaxation periods, NOT break up relaxation with brief moments of study.

You’ll only get one chance to do the Biology exam so if you’re the sort of student who ‘studies later’ take this as a pseudo-official warning – NOW is that later!

That’s basically all the meta stuff you need to be on top of – here’s some content specific tips for Biology preparation. Although, if you haven’t already, check out the 21 days to bio exam article I wrote – you no longer have time to do all of this stuff but the following steps will act as both an abridged version and an extension to those pieces of advice.


3. Revise Revise Revise.

Many students find that by the end of the year a lot of content from earlier in the year is starting to fade from memory- especially details of the early processes. There are a few good ways to tackle these issues:

•  Draw diagrams!

•  Diagrams summarise content very quickly but can also have a lot of detail.

For instance, the following diagram has a good level of detail:

Biology preparation
•  Go through the study design and draw diagrams for all major processes. Any keywords in your glossary that are relevant should come into play here. Unless a word is very simple, it shouldn’t be in your diagram and not in your glossary.

The other thing you can do to quickly revise broad areas of content is to explain them to someone. Make one of your parents sit down and listen to you while you go through everything. Get them to ask you questions about stuff that you aren’t explaining clearly. When you really know a topic you’ll be able to discuss it in a conversation easily and with fluency.

If you’re really brave and maybe don’t have someone you can talk to about the content – record yourself explaining concepts. If you’re voice wavers when mentioning something, it’s probably because you don’t remember it well. Revise these concepts first.


4. Know the exam

This is the most important thing for calibrating your stress to the challenge ahead of you.

There’s a lot of info about how to best do practice exams (I wrote about it in the 21 days to bio article – it’s step 4!) but it’s very important to find what works for you. Do the 2015 exam 2 days before the exam if you haven’t already, as this will greatly aid you in your Biology preparation.

Keep focused, keep balances and study hard. Biology is a very rewarding subject – if you put in the effort you will succeed 🙂