“This is a specific tip about Barnard biology classes. Try to do the reading for intro bio! The intro classes purposefully test on things that they don’t talk about at all in lecture. Seriously. Even random figure captions that you wouldn’t even think to read. The way I studied was to keep up with the assigned reading, and then before the test I would skim through all the chapters again. Since the intro tests are multiple choice, you only need to know the material at a level where you will be able to recognize the correct answer, which is good because the amount of information you learn is just so vast. Being able to recognize the correct answer is much easier than being able to actively recall the information. So doing the reading on time and making an effort to really understand what you are reading is important, and then once the test comes just make sure to refresh your memory by skimming through everything again. Of course, know the lecture material too.
As for the upper level biology lecture classes, it’s the complete opposite. For animal behavior, genetics, virology and neuroscience (these are the upper level lecture classes I’ve taken so far), the textbook reading is not on the test unless it was discussed in lecture. The exams are all strictly lecture material and the assigned reading is simply a tool to allow you to clarify things that you didn’t understand in lecture. The upper level exams, however, are rarely multiple choice. Thus, you really do need to know the information well enough that you can actively recall it. Recognition will not be enough. This is especially true for the molecular portion of genetics class. On my tests, the name of any random protein from any random pathway could be thrown at you, and you would need to be able to identify what pathway it came from and what function it had in that pathway. Also, really understanding concepts (as opposed to blindly memorizing) is important. For instance, on my neuroscience tests I would have to use my knowledge of when certain ion channels open and close and then be able to look at a graph of an action potential and explain what channel must be blocked for the graph to look like that. Application is also key for the Mendelian probability half of genetics class. You need to understand how to apply the rules of probability into the problems – it gets more complicated than you would think! So really know and understand everything you were taught in lecture!”- Mia