How to Take Perfect Notes in Biology Class

Biology involves the study of organisms and their environments. Gaining an understanding of this subject requires remembering new vocabulary words, comprehending theories, recognizing classifications, and understanding how natural processes affect the balance of our world. With all of these different parts, it’s not enough to just show up to your lecture and listen to your professor. Good, detailed notes are a must. Here are tips to help you create the perfect notes in biology class.

Make Sure You Understand How Things Work

If you can’t understand how a process works, that will be reflected within the explanation in your biology notes. Therefore, the first step to writing helpful biology notes is to list and describe how processes and natural phenomenon occur accurately. Remember that it is very important to be able to comprehend your own notes, which is why you should focus on writing them in a way that makes sense to you. You can also consult online resources or your professor for suggestions on the best way to represent these different processes.

Draw or Print Out Diagrams

If you are a visual learner, diagrams can help you to understand the material when words are not enough. Visual representations are incredibly helpful when it comes to recognition and memorization of a new concept. For instance, you could draw a small diagram of a cell in your written notes, labeling each part of the cell as well as the function of each of those parts. Not an artist? No need to worry; your drawings do not have to be perfect. Just focus on making sure they serve as a clear, complementary explanation to your written notes. However, if drawing is really not your strong suit, you can always go online and find an image to use instead.

Highlight Key Vocabulary Terms

If you write an entire page of notes without any way to distinguish between key points and descriptive details, you will have more difficulty remembering what is most important. It’s crucial to make sure you’re studying specific sections and concepts your professor puts extra emphasis on. So highlighting certain vocabulary or key points as you’re writing your notes will help you know where to focus your studying efforts later on.

Observe and Document the Purpose of Your Lab Experiments

Most biology courses are more than just a lecture; they also include a lab. And it’s just as important to take clear and effective notes in these sessions as well. For biology lab sessions, focused observation is extremely important, as students need to record their findings. If you’re not detailed in your lab notes, you may forget what the purpose of a specific session was or how you ended up at your final result in an experiment. To prevent this from happening, take some time after every lab to briefly document the primary purpose of the experiment, the steps you took, and the final results you found. For example, if on Monday you spent a lab session looking at different cells, you could write: “In Monday’s lab, we observed the differences between plant, animal, and fungi cells”. Then below that, add details comparing and contrasting the different cells and what steps you took to discover those differences.

Become Friends with Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are a learning technique that people use to help them remember specific concepts. For instance, if you have ever taken a music class, you can probably recall using the phrase, “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to remember the names of all of the notes on a music staff. In biology, using mnemonic devices can help you remember lists or categorizations easier. The wonderful thing about them is that you can create your own, too! Just be careful not to use them for everything because it will become difficult to remember 20 different mnemonic devices for an exam.

Recognize the Morphology of Words

Morphology is the study of the units of meaning in a word. To further explain this, here’s an example regarding the taxonomy of biology kingdoms– “plantae.” What word does plantae remind you of the most? Probably the word “plant.” Thus, we can gather that this word most likely refers to something related to plants. As you may know, “plantae” is the title given to organisms that are classified as plants, just like “animalia” refers to the classification of animals and so on. You can even find meaning in more complex words like “archaebacteria.” Archaea = old, so the meaning of the word translates into “old bacteria”. You see where I’m going with this? This technique may not work with every word, but jotting down notes when you notice morphological cues like these can help you remember the definition of complicated terms.

Rewrite or Edit Notes if Necessary

At times, it may be difficult to write down everything at once. So it’s important to take some time and look back at your notes. Make sure you understand everything you wrote down and find out if there’s any important information you left out. You can even do further research and add more information within sections that may not be fully fleshed out. Reviewing your notes can help strengthen your understanding of the material and ensure that everything is written accurately. Though this isn’t necessarily the most fun activity to do, it’s important to knock it out early as it may be too late to make sure you have all information needed in your notes come exam time.

In order to be successful in any biology class, it’s important to be able to identify various organisms and understand how they function within their natural ecosystems. That is why highlighting key vocabulary words, clearly explaining how various biological processes work, thoroughly noting your observations during labs and classes, and using different strategies for memorization are all essential towards helping you write the perfect biology notes.

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