Autumn.wmf (12088 bytes)Introduction to Organismal Biology (BIOL221) - Dr. S.G. Saupe; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

More Study Tips

    Since the exam will focus on material covered in class, it is imperative that you take good notes.  You should write down EVERYTHING that was said/done in class.  Be sure to record everything - not just what was written on the blackboard.  The reason for this is because sometimes we will discuss important things - that are testable items - that are not written on the board.  By having it in your notes then you will be less likely to forget studying it for the exam.  You may want to check out the following study tips.  In general, about 50% of the exam questions will be "concrete" while the other 50% will require higher level thought skills.  As an example....a concrete, lower level question might be:  Water is moved through a plant by:  (a) transpiration; (b) root pressure; (c) capillary action.  This should be easy; a. transpiration is the answer.  Now, based on the same concept I could ask the following question:  If the roots of a plant are placed in boiling water, which of the following would most likely stop first?  (a) transpiration; (b) root pressure; (c) capillary action.  The answer as I'm sure you know is "b," but as you can see, the question is now assuming that you know what each of these three processes are, and looking at what happens under different circumstances.

    The take-home-message is to not just memorize your notes, but strive to understand them.  Could you explain your notes to someone else?  One way you quickly realize how much you know is to try and teach someone else.  And from a practical perspective, remember that for the multiple choice questions you have the answer in front of you.  You simply need to sort it out from the incorrect answers.  Thinking skills will serve you better than memorizing.

    Some people say that if you have no clue about the answer on a multiple choice test, choose A.  This  sometime works because when writing a question the writer usually writes the correct answer first.  However, be careful using this strategy on my exams because I usually alphabetize my choices and/or list them according to length.  It is a good strategy when taking a test to scratch off the answers that you know are not correct.   Sometime there is a joke or goofy answer that you can immediately delete.  It is usually the last choice in the list.  Hopefully once you've eliminated any jokes and answers you know aren't correct, this will leave only two or three answers from which to choose.

    I find that making concept maps can be very helpful, also.  To make a concept map, prepare a list of the topics/ideas from a given section of material.  Then, create an organizational-type diagram, draw lines interconnecting the different ideas.  On the connecting line, indicate how the ideas relate.  Start with the broadest, most general concept first and work from there.  This can be a nice way of visualizing relationships between concepts.  See me or the web sites indicated in the study tips for more details

    Be sure to check out the textbook website and go through the activities/exercises/quizzes available.  I have also posted a copy of sample exams in my websites to study.

    My students in the past have recommended spending lots of time studying my online notes and lecture notes (check out their advice).  Use the book primarily as a reference to help understand the online and class notes.

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Last updated: February 01, 2008        � Copyright by SG Saupe