Mastering Biology


For students who hope to have a career in the Medical field, mastering biology at an early stage is very important. The problem with most students is that they work hard instead of working smart.

Mastering biology requires that you have a formula in studying, and you will reap

Mastering Biology Made Easy

Mastering Biology Made Easy

amazing results at the end of the semester or year. The tips I am about to give you will ensure that you get grade A in your biology. However, it is up to you that you ensure that you have self-discipline in the implementation of the mastering biology formula.

Tip 1: You Have to Listen Attentively in Class.

Try to engage in class as you listen. Ask relevant questions whenever you do not understand a concept. Being attentive in class will make you easily understand any topic. Understanding a topic the first time it is taught makes it easy for you to make notes and revise later.

After class, make notes on the topic. Make notes when the topic is still fresh in your brain.

Tip 2: Make Engaging Notes.

Make notes that motivate you to study.

To do this, utilize marker pens with different colors. Our brains love colors and diagrams.

Make use of paragraphs to make the information more digestive. Also, use different colors so that you make things easier to recall.

Make sure that your notes are well organized and up-to-date.

Do not wait until you feel motivated to work.

Develop an effective routine and self-discipline.

After making the notes, always answer the end of topic questions to test your knowledge.

Tip 3: Understand, Simplify, and Memorize Content.

Simplify your notes in a way that they make sense to you.

Make use of keywords that will give you marks.

Tip 4: Use the Specification as Your Checklist.

A specification is the list of things that you need to know to pass your exam. The specification is essential, especially when you are about to revise for your exams.

Sample tracker for mastering biology

sample biology specifications


Employ a color-coded system to track your progress.

As shown in the above specification diagram,

Color reed is meant for the parts that you did not understand, and green is for the pars that you’ve made progress and notes on.

Tip 5: Practice Drawing and Make Them Appealing.

Draw as many diagrams as you can to help you learn different processes.

Diagrams are essential for visual learning as it helps absorb different answers.

Make your drawings appealing.

Teachers are very impressed when you can answer questions and provide drawings to supplement your work.

Drawings are essential for mastering biology

Drawings are essential for mastering biology

Drawings will help you earn extra marks.

If you can draw a diagram of a process and explain it to yourself or somebody, then that would help.

Tip 6: Watch Animations

Animations in biology help students have a better understanding of various processes.

Sometimes when you read things in a textbook or even draw diagrams, you may still end up not understanding.

You can visit McGraw Hill animations; it will make the topics clearer.

Animations make it easy to master biology by making topics clearer

Animations make it easy to master biology by making topics clearer

Animations make a topic clearer because one can see the processes in action.

There is an animation to practically everything on the internet; all you need to do is to take a few extra minutes to find the animation, watch it and understand it.

Tip 7: Do Lab Work and Get a Hands-on approach on a Topic.

Students should take lab experiments seriously if they want to master biology.

Experiments such as dissection or microscope work will help you get a deeper understanding of the topic.

After intensive lab work, you can be sure that during exams, the lab experiments that you did will trigger your memory, and you will remember exactly what you learned.

Tip 8: Understand Command Words

You sometimes find students giving an explanation where the question clearly says ‘describe.’

Make sure that you are familiar with all the command words and that you know how to mold your answers to fit them.

Command words are usually in bold.

Mastering command words comes through practicing past papers and developing new exam techniques.

Mold your answers to what the examiner wants and show your knowledge.

Command words include:

  • Identify

This word requires you to look for a key term.

You are only required to make a simple response as the examiner is just looking for an exact keyword.

For example, you would be asked to:

Identify the organelles involved in photosynthesis.

The answer should be:

The organelle involved in photosynthesis is the Chloroplast.

  • Describe

This command word requires you to offer more details on the keyword.

For example,

The Chloroplast is involved in photosynthesis, describe how the structure of the Chloroplast allows photosynthesis to occur?

The answer should be:

The Chloroplast contains a double membrane. Inside the membranes, there are thylakoids where chlorophyll molecules sit and capture light energy from the sun, hence photosynthesis.

  • Predict

This command word requires that you use a graph or figure to guess an outcome.

‘Predict’ is usually paired with ‘Justify.’

  • Purpose of a Model

Give a simple description of the mechanism at work in a graph or data table.

  • Explain

Answer such questions by providing a statement that includes a specific keyword and an in-depth description of that keyword.

You will get marks for knowing the keyword and making a description.

  • Justify

Make a claim and cite specific evidence from the question supporting the claim.

  • Calculate or Perform

Do math work and give decimal answers for a fraction.

Equal marks are awarded for the work and the correct answer.

  • Draw a Graph

Always make sure that your independent variables are on the x-axis and the dependent variables on the y-axis.

You must select the correct type of graph:

i. Use a scatterplot if both x and y have numerical values.

Do not connect the dots as connecting will make it a line graph. However, connect the dots if they ask you to connect. If you are asked to draw a line-of-best-fit, draw the best line that joins the dots. The line doesn’t have to go through all the dots. A line-of-best-fit must be a straight line.

ii. If one of the pieces of data is non-numerical, use a bar graph.

Examples of non-numerical values include: ‘Population A’, ‘Population B’, ‘Brown’, ‘Black’, e.t.c.

Make sure that you have a reasonable scale for the x and y-axis. Each tick must have the same change in value.

Always label the numbers on the axes, include a title and axis labels on every graph.

Axis labels must be in units.

  • Design (an experiment)

List all the independent and dependent variables.

List control.

List the hypothesis and null hypothesis.

Mention the sampling method.

Make a prediction.

For example,

“If I do this….this will happen…because…”

Tip 9: Make Use of Concept Maps

Concept maps are essential in biology because we have a range of organs, very many processes, and things that may make you get confused.

Concept maps help a student have a better focus on a topic and make it easier to see the information in a map format that in a large body paragraph.

For example, if you want to understand the liver, the liver has many functions.

To prepare a concept map, start with the main focus at the center of the diagram.

Concept map for understanding liver functions

Concept map for understanding liver functions


Draw lines from the center of the diagram representing the different functions of the liver.

Print out the diagram and add additional notes for a better understanding.

Tip 9: Compare and Contrast Table

A compare and contrast table is essential as it helps you to see a summary of the main points that will help you understand and answer questions easily.

Mastering biology using Compare and contrast tables

Compare and contrast table for biology

Mastering Biology Tip 10: Make use of Past Papers Effectively.

Past Papers are one of the best ways to revise for an exam. But they have to be used effectively.

Print out topic-specific past papers and attempt them after making notes for the specific topic.

mastering biology using topic specific past papers

mastering biology using topic-specific past papers

Alternatively, you can make notes on the whole unit then try do past papers for that unit.

Take it seriously the first time you do a past paper.

Do the past paper in a place with no distractions and time yourself.

It is important that you adhere to the appropriate writing conventions so that your content is understandable; hence your teacher does not have a hard time while marking your paper. 

Mark the first paper yourself so that you can see what your weaknesses are and the kind of answers that examiners are looking for.

If you notice that there is a particular topic you are struggling with, then try to work on it straight away. Don’t wait for the exam season before you understand the topic.

Make improvements the second time you do a past paper and give it to someone else, for example, your teacher, to mark and get constructive criticism.


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