10 Secrets of Highly Effective High School Students

Successful people have habits. Successful high school students have habits. While they may not be secrets, not everyone knows or understands these important habits. My goal is to share the wealth. Here are some of the most helpful strategies I have learned over my *illustrious* high school career. 

1. Writing it Down

When in doubt, write it down. Your teacher said something you didn’t understand – write it down. You thought of an interesting idea for an essay – write it down. You don’t understand how to do a certain problem – write it down. Keeping a log of questions and/or ideas will help you when you have a chance to ask your teacher. Also, it can shave off time brainstorming an essay when you’ve already come up with a couple ideas. 

2. Using a Planning System

I say system because depending on who you are that may look different. I’m planning a blog post on various different planning systems, but the fundamental underlying idea here is to keep track of your assignments. Don’t be the person who is constantly asking what the homework is. No one likes that person. That person gets ignored. Don’t be that person. 

3. Establishing Positive Relationships with Your Teachers

Your teachers are your friends. Treat them with kindness and respect even if you don’t really like them. For example, I hated one of my teachers (truly the most incompetent person I’ve ever met), but I was still nice to him and he bumped my final grade up from a B+ to an A-. Moral of the story: be nice to your teachers. Also, if your teachers have a good impression of you, they’ll be more likely to give you extensions on assignments and generally make your life easier. 

4. Learning How to Talk with Adults

You have to learn how to advocate for yourself. Once, I got the first step of an 8 part question wrong. Consequently, the rest of the problem was wrong. My teacher took off half credit for the entire problem. I lost about 15 points on an 80-something point test. When I got my test back, I asked him to give me points back on the questions that I got wrong but had the correct process. In the end, I convinced him that my score didn’t reflect my knowledge of the subject. He agreed and ultimately ended up giving me about 10-12 of the 15 (lost) points back on my test. It raised my grade significantly. Being able to have these sometimes difficult conversations with your teachers will only help you in the long term. 

5. Never Being Afraid to Send an Email

This one is two fold: one don’t have a stupid email like soccergurl201@yahoo.com. That’s just a bad idea. It was fine when you’re ten, but now you’re in high school. Eventually, you’ll likely be using your email to contact college admissions representatives and future employers. Give yourself a professional email. You should aim to include your first name and last name in your email address if possible. If you must include numbers, consider using the last two digits of the year you’ll graduate high school. Second: Check your email. As a high schooler, you should get into the habit of checking your email at least once per day. Lastly, err on the side of formality. Your teacher won’t be offended by an extra “please” or “thank you”, but they will be by the lack of such pleasantries. When in doubt, say it in the most polite way possible and move on. Remember the worst that can happen is your teacher says no. For example, I asked my APUSH teacher if there were any opportunities for extra credit via email. She told me no, but said she appreciated the politeness of my email. That was my worst-case scenario, and it wasn’t really that bad at all. 

6. Finding What Times You Work Best and Modifying Your Schedule Accordingly

I learned in my freshman year that I work best in the mornings. For me, my brain begins shutting down for the day at 1pm. From there, my concentration and pretty much everything else just gets steadily worse. By the time I get home at 4 o’clock on a normal day or 6 o’clock on a day with extracurriculars, I’m exhausted. Generally, I’ll only have energy for less taxing homework such as Spanish vocabulary worksheets, textbook notes, or easy readings for English class. I do this stuff first. Then I’ll try to go to bed as early as possible so I can wake up around 5:00-5:30AM to finish the more mentally taxing homework such as chemistry and math problem sets. I also make sure to always have at least 4 study halls per week each semester to ensure I’ll have at least an hour at school each day to get some work (or sleep) in. 

7. Learning How to Take Organized Notes

This is super important. It is the underlying foundation of your academic career. Students must be able to take their teacher’s words and the texts from the various sources (slide shows, textbooks, readings) and condense it into a useful study guide. Having good notes aids this process. 

8. Using Outside Resources

This is really helpful when you are struggling in a class. For example, in my AP Chemistry class, I always needed extra practice. I used the textbook and found an AP Chemistry test bank pdf online. Now, I had extra opportunities to practice and identify weak spots. For a history class, that could mean looking up timelines or articles to make sure you understand exactly what happened and why. If you don’t know the answer, look it up! Most teachers will appreciate that you tried to find the answer yourself and only came to them when you were stuck. That shows your teacher that you took initiative and care about your studies.

9. Paying Attention in Class or at least Attending Class

Most of us have to pay attention in class to understand what’s happening. For some people, they can go to class, fall asleep and still get straight As. I am not one of those people, at least, not in most subjects. I do love a good nap in Spanish though! Even if you don’t want to, just go to class. Even if you don’t pay attention to the vast majority of the lecture, at least you absorbed a tiny bit of information and got marked present. Sometimes that’s the best you can do, and that’s fine. 

10. Forming Mutually Beneficial Relationships with Classmates

This is so important! You need to make friends in your class. These are the people who you will create study guides with, quiz each other with before big tests, complete projects with, and more. These people don’t have to be your best friends, but they can be extremely useful. For example, I have a great friend, Sophie, who was in my US History class. Anytime I missed class, she sent me the notes from class, and when she was out, I sent her the notes. Over time, Sophie and I have become great friends, but it all really started with having Freshman World History together. 

Good luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

What You Need to Know to Crush the SAT: Reading Edition

Honestly, the reading and writing part was the easiest for me. It’s also one of the hardest parts to prepare for (or for which to prepare if you’re really into grammar).

My First and Best Tip: 

Read, Read, Read!

You should practice reading high level articles, books, and such to prepare yourself. I’d recommend reading from the following publications

  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic
  • The New York Times (specially the Saturday Essays)
  • Foreign Affairs
  • The Council on Foreign Relations
  • The Washington Post
  • The Wall Street Journal

You should also challenge yourself by reading some fiction. Here are some books my English teacher recommended:

  • Wuthering Heights – Bronte
  • Invisible Man – Ellison
  • Infinite Jest – DF Wallace (This one is a beast at over a thousand pages!)
  • The House of Mirth – Wharton
  • Another Country – Baldwin
  • The Recognitions – Gaddis
  • Americanah – Adichie
  • A Gesture Life – Lee
  • The Good Earth – Buck

You may also want to review the SAT vocabulary words especially if you feel that you don’t have a very robust vocabulary.

Here’s a link to a list you should definitely check out by PrepScholar.com, one of my favorite websites for all things test prep.

You may also want to review grammar rules. Here’s the link to the book my school recommended.

To improve your grammar, try talking like you write. Often, we talk in a modern vernacular, but when we write, we do so in a different academic writing style. By attempting to talk as if you’re writing an academic paper, you force yourself to pay close attention to your grammar. I tend do this to make sure I avoid run-on sentences when speaking.

Good luck and remember the College Board IS the devil.

 

Sincerely,

Marie

 

I Just Discovered Classical Country Music, and I Think I’m In Love

 

Sony Music Masterworks YOYOMA-album-cover

Not Our First Goat Rodeo, by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile

A few weeks ago, I had the house to myself. And as one does, I asked Alexa to play classical music.

Background: I’ve been really into classical music lately. Since quarantine, I’ve been listening to SO much music – but the constant flow of lyrics was beginning to feel oppressive. It felt like sensory overload – I wanted to listen to music but sans words. Words were too much; they required too much brain power. I can’t be the only one who occasionally feels this way.

Anyways, back to the original story, on like the third or fourth song, Alexa played “Waltz Whitman” by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. The song can best be described as blue grass classic … I think? Honestly, I don’t know the official genre, but I love this song SO MUCH!

It’s just really good. When the song picks up tempo, my heart soars along with it. It reminds me of texting a crush – that rush of dopamine when they text you. It’s just really good! So good.

Also, this is the *perfect* study music. It’s upbeat to keep one from falling asleep and has no lyrics to not distract one. Okay, but have you been writing an essay and ended up writing down the lyrics of the song instead of your actual, you know, essay?!? Cuz, um, same. This is why I try to avoid music with lyrics when studying. 

I looked around some more, and Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, and Edgar Meyer actually made another album together.

Appalachia Waltz, by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor

I love these albums because it’s still beautiful instrumental music AND it isn’t reminiscent of the classical music I was conditioned to sleep from my years in daycare.

Sincerely,

Marie

What You Need to Know to Crush the SAT: Math Edition

f What You Need To Know To Crush The SAT_ math edition

Here is the second installment in my series on test taking and prep strategies for the SAT. My parents paid an arm and a leg for SAT prep, so your parents won’t have to! 😉

General Test Taking Tips

Test questions are ordered from easiest to hardest.

The test is ordered from least missed questions to most often missed questions. For the grid-in problems the difficulty resets. So as you go on from the first grid-in problem to the last grid-in problem, the questions will get progressively more challenging.

You can either focus on doing as many easy problems as possible with reasonable assurance that you got them correct.

OR, you could focus on the hardest problems first then do the easy problems because the easy problems should take less time therefore you can put them off until later when you have less time, assuming that because they are easier, they should take you less time to solve.

When in doubt, skip it! Come back to it later.

Skip problems that take you more than 2 minutes to solve.

If you see a problem you know how to solve (but will take you a long time) or have a vague idea how to solve, skip it.

If you see a problem and you don’t immediately know how to solve it, skip it.

How to Save Time

The test answers choices are generally listed from least to greatest or vice versa. If you need to fill in a value, start with one of the middle values. Then you can go up or down if that answer choice doesn’t work.

Don’t show all of your work if you don’t need to. You won’t get partial credit for showing your work. If you can do it in your head quickly and accurately then do it and bubble in the answer immediately.

Know when it’s going to be faster to plug in the various options versus solving for the correct variable.

Getting Better and Avoiding Making the Same Mistakes

Identity areas where you are the weakest and categorize your weakness into the following categories

  1. Silly mistake (ex. simple addition error or mixing up values)
  2. Knowledge based: you didn’t know how to solve that problem
  3. Ran out of time

Avoiding Making Silly Mistakes

  1. If you’re making a lot of silly mistakes, SLOW DOWN.
    • This may seem counterintuitive, but you have to give you brain the time it needs to function properly. I’d recommend taking practice tests so you can get used to the stress of working under time constraints.
    • Also, double check your work if you have time.
      • Generally, I double check my answers before I go back to answer the really hard questions.
  2. If you missed the question because you didn’t understand it and/or know how to solve it, use Khan Academy to learn how to solve questions like that.

The Most Important Tip I Can Give You

All the questions on the test are weighted the exact same. One will not count for more or less than any other, so focus on the ones where you’re absolutely sure you can obtain the correct answer.

Equations to Master

You should be familiar with all the you learn in algebra 1 and 2. Some ones that you should definitely know are

  • Parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting lines
  • Point slope form
  • Equation of a circle
  • Quadratic formula

Skills To Master

  • Splitting the middle
  • Combing like terms
  • Factoring quadratics
  • Similar triangles
  • Expanding polynomials

Good luck with the SAT! Always remember that the College Board is THE devil.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Website EVERY Student Needs to Know About

This is going to change your life.

A couple of days ago, I was just minding my own business, looking for an explanation for a question I had been assigned in my SAT prep class. Then I stumbled upon this website called Soft Schools.

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Initially, I was like “WTF did I just click on?!?”. I lowkey thought it was going to give me a virus. Luckily, it didn’t. But. Y’all. It’s amazing. It has articles explaining pretty much everything you would cover in grades 1-12.

I was really excited by its offerings for AP Chemistry. I just took AP Chem this year and I never had enough resources to practice or apply the new concepts I was learning. For anyone who has taken chem, you know that practice problems are the key to success. Soft Schools has practice questions for AP Chem with answers! on it’s website!

This website is amazing! I’m so in love. I just wish I had know it when I was actually taking AP Chem. I am so excited by this because you can access practice questions which is something even the AP Chemistry course on Khan Academy doesn’t have! I mean, this is pretty huge. Also, you could definitely use a review book like Barron’s to get practice questions, but still – this is free!

They have notes, articles, and quizzes for a bunch APs such as AP Geography, AP US History, AP Environmental Science which I’m planning on looking through to get ahead for school in the fall, and so many others.

Unfortunately, they don’t have all the APs, but something is better than nothing! Here’s a link to all the high school materials on the site.

They say (read: lie) that they have materials for calculus, but it’s basically all pre-calc stuff like logs and trig functions. So if you’re looking for calc help, I wouldn’t use this site. However, my friend who TA’d Calc I and took Calc BC last year said Khan Academy’s Calc curriculum and videos were really good and helpful. I’m planning to use Khan Academy for when I take calc in the fall.

Another really cool feature on their website are the history timelines. I always find timelines to be super helpful to get a broad idea about what was happening in a certain time period. On this website, they have ones pre-made for you. Generally, it’s better to make your own timeline. But if you just need a quick reference guide, this is a really good option. Honestly, the timelines in this website are organized in no particular manner or at least, I can’t tell what manner it’s organized in. For example, after the Rosa Parks timeline is on on the Civil War, so I don’t even know what’s happening there.

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Everyone and their mom needs to know about this website. It’s super helpful (though not super easy to use). Trust me, command+F will be your best friend when navigating this disorganized website. You’ll definitely have to plan around with the site a bit to get where you’re trying to go, but I think you’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for when you (eventually) get there!

Sincerely,

Marie

Must Have Supplies for High School

Must Have School Supplies for High School.png

Ahh, high school – what a time!

One of the things that stressed me out about entering high school was the utter lack of school supply lists / the lack of consensus on what you need for high school. As a Type-A, ESTJ worrier, I was super freaked out an overwhelmed. And I’m the oldest out of the kids, so I didn’t have any older siblings to tell me what to buy.

First, high school is very different from middle school, but the supplies you need basically stay the same. The thing that will change the most is probably your organization system, but that’s a *whole* other blog post.

Anyway here’s what you need.

what you need for high school

//ONE// A binder for every class

If your school isn’t paperless, you will likely need a binder (or two!) for every classes. This is where you will store old handouts, worksheets, tests, and quizzes. You won’t take these to school with you every day. It’s best to keep this organized chronologically. Alternatively, you could use one binder for all the classes, but thats a) more expensive for one 3in binder b) hander to organize. I got mine from staples. I recommend getting D-ring binders.

//TWO// Notebooks

This one is a bit trickier. It’s hard to gauge whether a class is going to need a whole notebook to itself or not. For example, my freshman history only took about 40 pages of notes for the entire year. I’d recommend buying one 3-subject notebook and two 1-subject notebooks. That way you can put the classes that don’t take a ton notes altogether. Alternatively, one the first day, you can ask your teachers what supplies they’d recommend for their classes. You can always return items if you don’t need them, but you can’t buy things after they’ve sold out.

//THREE// No. 2 Pencils

You will definitely need some No. 2 pencils for scantrons and standardized testing. I like the Dixon Ticonderoga and the Pilot Dr. Grip Mechanical Pencil. You can use mechanical pencils as long as the pencil is using HB grade lead.

//FOUR// Colored Pens

This one is pretty simple – having multiple pen colors is super helpful for drawing diagrams, annotating texts, spicing up your notes, and basically everything. I have a set of colored gel pens and a set of colored ballpoint pens.

//FIVE// Colored Pencils

You will have a project or a poster to create. You will need colored pencils. Do your future self a favor, and buy the 24 pack of Crayolas. This is save you from the inevitable last minute, late night dash to Staples the night before your project is due.

//SIX// Pencil Sharpener

I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t have a pencil sharpener – don’t be like those people. Assume that the pencil sharpeners in your school are trash (they probably are) and bring your own. I keep a mechanical one on my desk at home and a manual one in my backpack. The manual one is my absolute favorite pencil sharpener. I’ve had mine for 3 years! And I absolutely love it!

//SEVEN// A folder for every class

This is what you’ll carry around with you every day. I like to store ONLY the handouts relevant to the current unit in class. It is imperative that you keep this clean and organized. I’ve used these really cool 4-in-1 folders and these basic 2 pocket folders. I’d definitely recommend getting these in plastic, so they are more durable.

//EIGHT// Pencil Case

I will never understand the people who just throw their pens and pencils all willy-nilly into their backpacks! I high recommend using a pencil pouch that has two pockets like this one. That way you can have one for your post-its and erasers – things you don’t to get dirty with pencil marks all over them. Plus a separate compartment just for your writing utensils.

//NINE// Planner

Honestly, I probably should’ve put this first. A planner, agenda, assignment book, whatever you want to call is one of the keys of long term success in high school. You NEED to know *exactly* when your assignments are due and when your tests are given. A planner is key to that. You don’t really need a planner that’s any bigger than 5in x 8in. That’s the size I use. It’s slightly smaller than the A5 size.

//TEN// Watch

A watch is essential for me. I know in my school, at least 2/3 of the clocks in my school are broken. Also, most of time, teachers won’t allow you to whip out your phone to check the time. This is why a watch is the best thing ever. I genuinely wear a watch every day. I get watch tan lines. Here’s the watch I currently use! One really important feature for a watch to have is the date – I constantly forget the date, so having it on your wrist is super convenient and useful.

Good luck with high school – You’ll need it!

Sincerely,

Marie

What You Need to Know to CRUSH the SAT

What You Need To Know To Crush The SAT.png

Hello! This is the first in a series of posts about making the SAT your b*tch! This point is about

  1. general test prep tips
  2. tips for test day
  3. helpful online resources
  4. best test prep book

ONE // General Test Prep Tips

  • Take practice tests routinely and often. The more exposure you get to the test, the better. If you can’t dedicate 4 consecutive hours of your day to taking a practice exam, try taking just the math sections one day and the English sections another day.
  • Make a master list of all the questions you’ve gotten wrong so that you can review them later and identify weak spots.

TWO // Tips for Test Day

  • When testing, make sure you bring at least a 32 oz water bottle and high quality snacks.
  • Pack your bag the night before. Make sure you include: your test ID, student (school) ID, at least 5 sharpened pencils, pencil sharpener, and eraser.
  • Make sure your calculator is on the College Board (yuck!) list of approved calculators.
  • Make sure you have your printed admissions ticket and valid school ID (it must be from the current school year or the year before if you’re taking the test before December of the new school year).
  • Pick out your clothes the night before. I like to wear comfortable but still nice clothes. what i swore to the SAT.png

sweatshirt | sneakers | pearls | shirt | glasses | socks | jeans

This is literally what I wore to take the SAT. Nothing special. I wore that were clothes that I had owned for YEARS. I have to say, I love the jeans I wore – they are real jeans, but they have a super comfy elastic waistband. I LOVE THEM. You’ll thank me later. Also, this shirt I got from GAP is the comfiest shirt I own. It’s the perfect combination of thick but not heavy and still maintaining a nice stretch. This shirt is literally perfect – you should buy it in every color!

THREE // Helpful Websites for SAT Prep

Erik the Read

I highly recommend this website. Super informative and helpful! I really can’t say enough good things about him. He teaches a lot of strategies that you’d typically only learn from expensive test prep companies. Also, there are plenty of worksheets on his website that you can access for free!

Khan Academy

Everyone knows and loves Khan Academy. For SAT Prep, Khan Academy is great for two kinds of people. One, people who need a lot of help to learn the actual content on that is assessed on the SAT. Two, people who already learned the content in school and just need to be able to do it faster and with greater accuracy. If you fall out of these two categories, Khan Academy isn’t going to cover the bulk of your needs. Also, Khan Academy doesn’t teach test strategies.

Prep Scholars

This is a really cool website that is all about how to succeed on standardized tests in high school, college, and grad school. Honestly, I didn’t use their website too much to study for the SAT, but I found it really helpful for the AP Chem exam. They do put together really useful study timelines and study guides that I think are pretty helpful.

FOUR // The Best Test Prep Books

Princeton Review Premium Prep

If I could recommend only one book to buy, it would be this one. I’d recommend buying this book because I didn’t need new test taking strategies since I had a private tutor and attended an SAT prep course. However, I still think the test taking strategies are super helpful and worth it! Also, it comes with 8 full-length practice tests. This book also reviews the format and mechanics of the test. You can access the official SAT practice tests on Khan Academy anyway.

Official College Board SAT Practice Test Book

This is just a really big book with 8 full-length SAT exams in it. You can access these EXACT same exams on Khan Academy too, so keep that in mind too. This book does walk you through each section of the test and its format. It also gives practice questions for each section of the test.

Princeton Review Extra Practice Tests 

This book has 10 full length practice tests. I really appreciate that each problem comes with a detailed explanation. I don’t think this one includes the test taking strategies like the other Princeton Review book mentioned above.

Good luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

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How I am Studying for the AP Chemistry Exam

Photo from Unsplash.

This year has been crazy. Amidst all of the craziness that happened this spring, I totally blew off studying for my APs. This year I took two APs: AP United States History (APUSH) and AP Chemistry (AP Chem).

APUSH has been one of my favorite classes this year, so I didn’t really study for the AP as I had done well on all of my assignments (DBQs, SAQ, MC, tests etc.).

Chem on the other hand is a whole other beast. I love chemistry. I really hope. I hope to minor in chemistry in college, but boy has this class kicked my hiney this year. It’s been rough. I love my teacher, but it often feels like I don’t know what I don’t know. This is the scariest position to be in as a student because it’s unclear what you should do when you don’t know where your weaknesses are.

And ladies and gentlemen (+ non binary gentle-folk) , that is why I have put off studying for the Chemistry AP until 6 days before the make up exam. (I decided to take the make up exam because I was seriously unprepared for the May date)

Anyway, now I have no other choice, but to prepare for this exam. Also, studying chemistry is a very convenient excuse to not focus on my very, very sad math predicament right now.

Y’all. I promise I really am a good student, but this quarantine is doing stuff to me.

The Plan, as promised

I made this plan based off of the idea of active recall. I’ve been exposed to this idea from many different youtubers. If you want to learn more, I highly suggest you check out Janice Studies, UnJaded Jade, and Ali Abdaal.

Step 1

Make a plan. I created this google sheet so outline my goals and tasks for the next week until my exam.

My plan made using google sheets. I’m using the “Karla” font – my current fave!

As you can see, I have listed all of the units being covered on the exam this year.

Step 2

On AP Classroom, my teacher has opened all of the FRQ practice problems for us to do, so that’s my first step of studying. By taking the FQRs I can check my knowledge and see where the gaps are. Although I hate being and/or feeling unprepared, the act of grasping for the information, even if you can’t find it or it’s very time consuming/hard is valuable to building up the pathways in your brain to make the retrieval of that information in the future easier. Geez, what a sentence!

Step 3

I check my answers for the FRQs. When I check my answers, I write down the correct answer, the explanation, and where I went wrong/why. This process helps you identify where you went wrong, and helps you to have better reference materials in the future. I’ve actually gone back and looked at old practice problems and seeing where I went wrong helped me avoid that mistake or recognize it when I made the same mistake again.

Step 4

If I am understand the content, I will move on to take the Schoology quiz my teacher posted to make sure my understanding is solid. For those of you who don’t know, Schoology is an online school management system similar to blackboard, delta math, classroom dojo, and google classroom. In Schoology, your teachers post materials such as syllabi, study guides, test scores, quizzes, and homework. Schoology is the backbone of my school.

Step 5

If my understanding is incomplete then I will watch the AP Live Videos on youtube, linked here. These videos are a fantastic resource, and I highly recommend them, but they are super time consuming to watch. However, I have not found another source of such high quality videos that teach to the depth of APs. I also like Bozeman Science videos, but they’re a bit hit-or-miss with AP Chem, linked here.

Step 5

I label my mastery on the google sheet. Green is good, I definitely understand it. Yellow is a bit unsure, but I kinda go it. Red is Oh my Jesus, send help!

Overall, this is my study plan, we’ll see how well it works. I’ll update y’all in an upcoming blog post post June 2!

Having a plan is so important. It just makes everything feel more manageable. It’s like you’re no longer shooting into the dark. With a plan, you can see the target. It may be a tough shot, but you can see the target. That’s all you need.

Wish me luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

Biology Study with Me + Tips

My Biology Tips and tricks blog post pic 4-15-20

Hi y’all!

Today, I will be sharing a time-lapse of me answering some questions to study for my upcoming biology quiz and some of my favorite tips for studying biology. Link to my study with me. 

Right now, I’m taking Honors biology as a junior. Honors Junior biology at my school goes into the same depth as AP Biology, but covers fewer topics and doesn’t really have the label emphasis that AP Bio has.

Bio has been my hardest class this year, so I’ve really had to sharpen my study skills. Here are my tips!

Read the textbook before class.

This is huge. I cannot emphasize this enough. Biology isn’t really that hard conceptually, but there are so. many. freaking. details. To keep ahead of the curve, preview the material (if you can, take notes) the night before, so you’re not totally blindsided in class the next day.

Study early and often

Units such as biochemistry, cellular respiration, and digestion have a lot of moving parts. As soon as you complete learning a concept, begin to study it even if the unit (or the test) isn’t near. This is when you should start making your flashcards. I didn’t listen to my biology teacher when she told me to study the Lewis diagrams of the functional groups every day, I got a D+ on that test. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If your teacher gives you a practice test, do it! Make sure you study before taking the review test though, so it will be a truer description of what you actually know. Do it a day or two before the test, and review your mistakes and correct them.

Go to office hours

This goes without saying, but don’t wait to the last minute to clarify a concept you don’t understand. If your teacher says something you don’t understand in class, jot it down, and go to office hours at the earliest possible time and ask about it. Teachers often explain concepts so that the largest portion of the class can understand, but they know some students won’t get it and will likely be able to explain it another way. But you’ll never know unless you try.

Online resources

I don’t think I can say enough good things about Bozeman Science! Honestly, some of the best content for AP Science classes. 10/10 would recommend. I have a system when it comes to watching online videos in biology. I watch the Amoeba Sisters first because their videos provide easy-to-follow but basic explanations of concepts. Then I watch the Khan Academy videos to get a bit more detail. Lastly, once I kind of understand what’s happening, then I watch the Bozeman Science videos to cement the knowledge in finer details.

Make comprehensive study guides

Biology is a memorization intensive class. You can’t get around studying, so you might as well get good at it. I recommend using the provided study materials such as a list of topics that will be on the test and working from there. Make study guides by using your lecture and textbook notes together to explain the topics and concepts on the test.

Good luck with biology. It’s my least favorite science, but I hope with these tips it won’t be as miserable for you as it is for me. Haha.

Buena suerte,

Marie