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How I Got a 50 in Biology

By ATAR Notes in Study
9th of October 2015

This blog is the third in the “How I got a 50″ series, with blogs posted every Friday. If you got a 50 in a particular subject and would like to contribute, please email [email protected]

This particular blog features Thushan, who scored five study scores of 50.

How many hours did you study a night?

This was a long time ago; I don’t exactly remember. It would have been about 2-3 hours per night I’d say? I focused on Biology a fair bit because it was my Year 11 ¾ that I needed to put a lot of work into – and it was quite content heavy.

What motivated you to get a 50? How did you stay motivated and stay so disciplined?

I wanted to do really well in Biology – but I was aiming for about a 45. It was not so much motivation but more routine that kept me going. I was used to the pattern of coming home from school at about 5 pm (I lived quite far from school), dropping my bag next to my desk and opening my books and laptop to study. Or Facebook.

My motivation dipped repeatedly throughout the year but the things that kept me going were a love for the subject (Biology was extremely interesting to me!) and the fact that I tend to forget how I feel easily, so usually I sleep it off if I feel down.

What did you do differently to other people?

I immersed myself in the subject and was never content with just learning the theory. I dissected the logic, asked penetrating questions, made links between the different concepts in the course. For instance, I noted that the common theme behind enzyme action, cell signalling and immunology is binding specificity of proteins – which meant that I had less content to learn.

Also, I did some things that might have been rather unusual or unorthodox. I had my textbook in bed and used to read it casually until I became too sleepy to read. I also used to listen to Douchy’s Biology podcasts on my iPod on the way to and from school, to and from athletics meets and other sporting events, on repeat. To the point that I used to be able to remember snippets of Douchy’s podcasts word for word – mainly because he was a really good teacher.

What advice would you give to people out there looking to score above 40, and maybe even up to a 50? (A bigger answer – think about advice on SACs, summaries, practise questions and when to do them, resources you used, and anything else you might like to communicate to current students!)

For a subject like Biology – there is a fair amount of content, yes, but the key to doing well in this subject is to understand the concepts. If you understand the concepts, there are actually few things you need to memorise What happens is that suppose you remember one fact, then once you think about that fact you can logically deduce the next fact in a sequence you want to remember.

The other key to doing really well in this subject is to do plenty of questions – particularly exam style questions. The more you use your knowledge, the more you will remember it. The more you mentally go through the logical pathways that you use to solve Biology problems, the better you will remember the material. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it – you lose it.

Did you have a social life… like… at all?

Admittedly, not much. I was always a somewhat reclusive person, but I did hang out with my mates at lunch break and during spare periods. Also, after debating meetings, my debating team and I used to go for a Maccas run.

What did you have to compromise – what sacrifices did you have to make to achieve your score?

I had to give up cricket and playing the piano – cricket in particular was exhausting, and with travelling to and from the cricket matches, it was a little too much. I switched to playing badminton instead.

I was not able to have – much – of a social life either, but I had enough to keep me content. Generally.

If you could go back, would you change anything about how you did high-school?

Although high school was not always pleasant – the workload was sometimes overwhelming (and the pressure I put myself under) – I would not have changed anything. Having said that, my study habits improved significantly once I got to university since the course is very difficult. Fourth year medicine is like VCE on steroids.