The word Biology is derived from the Greek words ‘Bios’ meaning ‘Life’ and ‘Logos’ meaning ‘Study’. It is defined as the science of life in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure, and behavior.
The study of biology is mandatory and can be quite overwhelming if the course includes lab experiments, field trips, and multimedia presentations. Biology is very different from your other subjects like Mathematics, History or English as there are many facts to memorize, especially in the senior years. Studying biology is a cumulative process in the sense that before you can understand more complex biological concepts and processes, it’s necessary you understand the fundamentals. Many students are surprised to discover that they also have to analyze data, use reasoning, and apply previously learned knowledge to new situations. Thankfully, there are many ways to study biology effectively.
In this article, we are sharing some helpful tips and strategies that you may adopt in order to understand the subject better. We’ve also put together the best approach that you should adopt for biology and the career prospects for aspiring biology students.
So read on!
Before we get started with the effective ways of studying biology, you must understand that you need to have a more comprehensive approach towards the study of science. Sometimes, we understand a subject better if we have learned about the related topics before deep-diving into the subject at hand. The knowledge of these other related materials will ensure that you build a solid foundation and a head start when you actually start studying biology. Generally, for a biology student, curiosity and an open mind coupled with a critical bent of mind are the prerequisites. However, your familiarity and comfort levels with other topics can guarantee you a smooth learning process when it comes to biology.
For your benefit, we’ve put together a list of some topics in other areas that can help you learn biology faster and have an edge over others.
Must-Know Topics Before Taking Up Biology
- Common Scientific Terminology:
You must familiarize yourself with the general tools of science such as experiments, hypothesis, etc. Learn in detail about how they’re conducted and the general principles governing them. These fundamental concepts will go a long way in not only helping you learn biology but also in other areas of science.
- General Chemistry:
Go back to the basics, revise all that you have already learned or read fresh articles on atoms, molecules, hydrocarbons, etc. and how they interact with each other. To get a firm grip on biochemistry, learn all that you can about acid-base chemistry. Don’t forget, most of the chemistry in our bodies is acid-base chemistry that takes place in watery solutions.
- General Physics:
Strengthen your fundamentals of thermodynamics and learn in detail about energy and the principles governing the transfer of energy. Remember, energy is perpetually passing through ecosystems, living organisms, and cells, and is critical for the survival of these systems.
- Fundamentals of Statistics:
One of the main concepts of biology is Probability. A thorough understanding of probability will help you quickly understand topics like genetics and population genetics. Familiarize with the basic ways of analyzing sets of data such as mean, median, and mode. Knowledge of things like hypothesis testing will definitely give you an edge over others when it comes to mastering biology.
You don’t have to be a math wizard but to understand figures and data in biology, it is recommended that you know a little about basic algebra and graphs.
All the above-mentioned topics will help you understand biology but there is no rulebook that says it’s mandatory to have the knowledge of these topics before you start studying biology. So don’t procrastinate the learning of biology just because you’re not confident in these topics. You can always learn these topics simultaneously while you’re learning biology. The idea behind acquiring the knowledge of these topics is to gain an all-inclusive perspective of biology. Remember, you don’t need to be an expert in any of these topics but biologists should have a working knowledge of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics to excel at their jobs.
Now, as promised earlier, let’s take a look at some of the things that will help you study biology more effectively.
Framework For Understanding Biology
We can unify all the branches of biology within a framework of 5 essential concepts about living things. Once we understand the crux of these ideas, the endless world of biological research can be quite fascinating.
- Cell Theory: It consists of three parts — the cell is the most vital unit of life, all living things are made from cells, and every cell gets produced from pre-existing cells.
- Energy: Every living thing needs energy to survive, and energy, as a rule of thumb, flows between organisms and between organisms and the environment.
- Heredity: All living things contain DNA and moreover, genetic information is responsible for coding the structure and function of all cells.
- Equilibrium: All living things have to maintain homeostasis, which is simply a state of balanced equilibrium between the organism and its environment.
- Evolution: This is nothing but the whole unifying concept of biology. Evolution can be primarily described as the change over time that is the engine of biological diversity.
Study Tips For Biology
- Develop Interest and a Positive Attitude towards Biology
Biology might be complicated and a bit difficult but having a positive attitude is essential to do well in a subject. Look at the bigger picture, for e.g. Think how beautifully your body functions in perfect co-ordination to make you complete any task. How your brain commands each and every muscle of your body so that you can move forward or in any direction. How all the cells in your body work in tandem to keep you healthy? Isn’t it all so fascinating and interesting? Biology is the subject that teaches you the intricacies of all these processes and how they take place. Can there be anything more fascinating than understanding all this? Trust me, once your curiosity is triggered, half the battle is won.
- Understand the Terminology
One of the toughest things about learning biology is to remember the various terms. Most terms used in biology come from Latin and have a prefix and a suffix. So if you find the terminology difficult to remember, knowing the prefixes and suffixes that form the terms will help you spell the difficult words and understand their meaning. Use textbooks, notes, the internet, and all the possible sources to collect information on these terms and understand the concept. One of the proven methods of learning the terminology is to try and break down the complex words and identify their roots. Every time you come across an unfamiliar term while studying biology, you should write it down and look up its definition and try to understand its roots. Know more about Apps and Websites which may Help You Study Better!
- Make Gradual Progress
To learn biology effectively, you must avoid jumping from topic to topic and instead learn the underlying concepts first before trying to attempt the specific concepts. It is absolutely essential that you understand the processes first before advancing to the next level. Many students suffer a loss of confidence and feel demotivated because they make the mistake of studying the advanced chapters before trying to master the fundamental concepts of biology.
There are many effective learning techniques to speed up the memorization of the various processes and their relationship to one another which students can use to organize information in a very easy and efficient manner.
- Do Your Home-Work
Biology is a complex subject that involves learning biological processes needing explanation and experimentation. It is also peculiar in the sense that what you learn in your current class will serve as the foundation for what you will learn in your next class. Hence, you must ensure that you arrive at each lecture having read the textbook, completed all assignments, and reviewed your notes from the previous lecture. You’ll be able to get much more out of lectures if you come prepared. Students who regularly attend their biology class are likely to perform much better than those students who don’t.
- Practice with Diagrams
One of the best ways of mastering biology is to draw the diagram of a biological process. Drawings help you understand a concept and remember information that would be difficult to describe in words. Sketching and labeling important aspects of the diagram is one of the most effective ways to understand the concept rather than just reading from a textbook. You should practice with drawing diagrams of the human anatomy as you can be asked to produce and label such a drawing in your biology exam.
- Lab Work is Important
Reading textbooks alone won’t get you a good grade in biology. Make sure to pay close attention to lab sessions and perform all the experiments actively. Use the laboratory to test your hypothesis and prove your theories. Remember, the act of doing things will stay with you a lot longer than the act of just reading about it. With practical studies, you can easily relate to the theories in the books and this can make your studies much easier.
- Build a Solid Foundation
Biology is a subject that builds on its own. Hence, in order to effectively learn biology, one needs to first master the basic concepts of the subject. Only then can you follow the complex terms in the subsequent chapters. You can learn at an accelerated pace once your basic concepts are clear. Also, remember to make proper notes during class.
- Explain Concepts to Others
Make it a point to always study out loud to yourself and explain the concepts to yourself. This practice will enhance your studying capabilities. Also if you get a chance, try explaining the concepts and theory to others in the class, friends, your parents, or anyone else. If you can make others understand then it means that your fundamentals of the concept are clear and you can move on to the next topic.
- Solve Questions at the Back of Your Text Book
Try solving the questions given at the back of the textbook. This way, you will get into the practice of solving questions and will be in a lot better position to answer in exams.
- Previous Years’ Exam Questions
Once you’ve studied the whole syllabus, solve previous years question paper. Biology papers can vary widely so it’s critical to understand how your performance is going to be evaluated and study accordingly. For instance, you must know if you’re going to have a multiple choice test or have essay questions on lab work.
Solving past exam papers is the best practice you can get as it gives you an idea of the exam pattern, marking scheme, the time taken to solve questions, etc. Also, it will help you in evaluating yourself and your exam preparation.
Finally, be smart and pay close attention in class to what your tutor is saying. Read in between the lines and try to find out what the tutor thinks is important or interesting because tutor is the one who’s going to give you the test. You’ll be more confident and perform better in exams if you go back and review everything your teacher taught you in class and during the lab hours.
So, these were some of the tips to help you effectively study biology. Now, let’s take a look at some of the career prospects available to biology students. These career options exist in private industries, health care, education, government agencies, research fields, and several other areas. A general biological science degree can be sufficient for entry into many of these career options; however, a more specialized study is often required for career advancement.
Career Prospects for Biology Students
- Medical Doctors
If you are interested in medical sciences then it’s a no-brainer. Pursuing MBBS or Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery to become a doctor is the best career option for you. Other career options available in the medical field are Dental Surgeons, a career in Ayurvedic Medicine, Physicians, Optometrists, Veterinary Doctors, Pharmacists, Nursing, etc.
- Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Careers
Biological science majors may become biophysicists, who focus on studying how organisms live, think and develop. Other professional research scientist career options for biological science majors include Pharmacologists and Toxicologists.
- Microbiology Careers
A Microbiologists’ area of work consists of food, health, veterinary, medical, environmental, and agricultural science. These professionals study microorganisms such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and algae. Primarily, microbiologists hope to treat and prevent disease within their given field.
- Environmental Science Careers
Biological science majors focus on plant life and become botanists, where they can study topics from the largest trees on Earth to the smallest bacteria in plants. Their studies may also lean towards ecology, which deals with plants’ relationships with their environment and world as a whole. Others might work in marine or aquatic fields as scientists who study life within streams, lakes, and oceans. They can work for fisheries or even as wildlife biologists, where their careers focus on wild animals in their natural habitats. These scientists might help endangered species.
- Human Biology Careers
Human biology is another career option for biological science majors. These careers range from becoming a forensic biologist to being an exercise physiologist. You may also consider becoming a Medical Technologist, who works in a medical laboratory, conducting tests that aid doctors and researchers in discovering and preventing disease.
- Biological Science Careers
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences have sufficient opportunities to work in technician, inspection, testing, laboratory, and research positions, among many others.
- Teaching & Research Careers
You may opt for a B. Sc. Degree in an available discipline and follow it up by completing an M. Sc. degree! The job opportunities consist of fields like teaching, research, Government Jobs, Private jobs, etc.
For more such informative articles, follow us on Toppr Bytes.
Explore our CBSE page.
All the best!