Best way to learn biology?

Axiomatician

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    This is my first post. Let me introduce myself. I am a Biochemistry major that aspires to be a dentist. I am trying my best to study hard and do well so that I can secure a spot in dental school, just like so many others on this forum. My test date is scheduled for July 29th.

    I am in my 10th day of the 2nd week of study in Ari's (from DAT Bootcamp) study guide. So far, I have covered the first four chapters of Cliffs 3rd Ed. I am starting the 5th today, and at this pace, going through 3 chapters per week.

    I am having trouble going over this amount of material... I am naturally a very slow reader, and just reading through Cliff's along with reading through Feralis notes takes usually about 3 hours. I do this usually twice, answering the end of the chapter questions on cliffs.

    I have started to make flash cards, but have only done so for maybe 70% of chapter 3. It takes a very long time just to make them, let alone study them.

    If you have any tips on how to best learn biology, please share them. I have taken some bootcamp random subject-specific exams, and I think biology will be the subject I have to worry most about.
     

    russelldw

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      I have started to make flash cards, but have only done so for maybe 70% of chapter 3. It takes a very long time just to make them, let alone study them.
      My advice is to not make flash cards. It is way too time consuming if you are on a time constraint. It is more important that you spend time reading and taking notes of things you'll want to go over again. If you absolutely need flashcards, then after you finish reading Cliffs/taking notes, you can use these flash cards which are pulled from the Feralis Notes. You just have to DL the anki software (they also have a mobile app). I don't think they will be super useful unless you first study the book though.
       
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      FutureDent20

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        I am using Anki. I have the Feralis flash cards, as well, which are linked from DATBootcamp. Thanks for the replies. Any other suggestions?

        Do you have the DAT destroyer? If you don't I suggest you get it. I was in your shoes last month until I started the DAT destroyer bio section. You go through almost 600 questions. Best part is, the questions are the type that you really have to think. Trust me, It is working for me because not only I am learning, but also it covers stuff that you won't learn just reading your notes (at least for me). But before going through destroyer, just brush up by reading cliff and Feralis notes. Once your done go through destroyer.
        Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!
         

        Roy Williams

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          This is my first post. Let me introduce myself. I am a Biochemistry major that aspires to be a dentist. I am trying my best to study hard and do well so that I can secure a spot in dental school, just like so many others on this forum. My test date is scheduled for July 29th.

          I am in my 10th day of the 2nd week of study in Ari's (from DAT Bootcamp) study guide. So far, I have covered the first four chapters of Cliffs 3rd Ed. I am starting the 5th today, and at this pace, going through 3 chapters per week.

          I am having trouble going over this amount of material... I am naturally a very slow reader, and just reading through Cliff's along with reading through Feralis notes takes usually about 3 hours. I do this usually twice, answering the end of the chapter questions on cliffs.

          I have started to make flash cards, but have only done so for maybe 70% of chapter 3. It takes a very long time just to make them, let alone study them.

          If you have any tips on how to best learn biology, please share them. I have taken some bootcamp random subject-specific exams, and I think biology will be the subject I have to worry most about.
          I went through cliffs and feralis notes, but ended up thinking they were a waste of my time because it's just so much info. This is what I did to get a 26 on bio. Take it with a grain of salt since different things work for different people, and this may not be beneficial to you:

          Easily my worst section going into studying. I felt like a knew so little compared to everything that was covered. Especially plants. I knew nothing about plants. The only bio classes I've taken are bio 101 and anatomy, and my bio 101 professor skipped the question on plants. I also took biochem, but that was under the chem department, so not sure if that counts. So what I'm getting at is I did not have a very strong bio background.

          I read a ton of people's breakdowns trying to figure out how they prepared for the bio section and the majority of them said that all the info from Cliff's AP Bio (3rd Edition) and Feralis notes were the key to success. So first I just read through all of Cliff's and then I read through all of Feralis notes while highlighting and stuff. Then I went through Feralis notes and tried to memorize stuff as I read. After having gone through all of Cliff's once and Feralis twice, you'd expect to have a decent grasp already. This was not the case for me. I still felt like I knew absolutely nothing.Absolutely nothing was clicking for me. At this point I was getting pretty frustrated as well as nervous since I felt like I was pretty much doomed for this section.

          I decided to go a different route that nobody else had ever mentioned before. I went straight to youtube. I knew that having a general background and understanding of the basic concepts was most important before starting to memorize stuff, so that's what my goal was. I didn't take any notes or anything; I just tried to watch and absorb the content so I had a general understanding. I watched videos in order of the way Feralis notes were laid out (usually there was a video for each bold heading, with a video for every sub heading in the anatomy section). I mainly watched Bozeman science videos (very good) and Crash course bio videos (also very good info, while the guy seems kind of immature and too try hard, it has good info). So from those two channels, I was able to get a very good general understanding of it all. For what those two did not cover, I went to Khan Academy (especially for the excretory system and kidneys and all that jazz). I would use Khan academy to supplement what you don't understand or want more detail about from the bozeman and crash course videos.

          After watching these, I started to feel a little better. So I took a practice test on bootcamp and did terribly. Everything about the bio section in the destroyer book scared me to death. There were sooo many questions. I had originally planned on just going through Feralis notes again, but had a phone call with Nancy one night (helped write Destroyer), and she basically told me that if I wanted to do well on bio then I needed to master the bio section of the destroyer. There was no other way to do it in her mind (and now I agree). So in the span of I think 6 days, I went through all of the bio destroyer for the first time. I did 100 questions a day. I would do each question and then on notebook paper write out literally all the info from that question (and the solution to that question from the back) in note form. Every. Single. Question. In. The. Entire. Book. I probably have over 40 pages of handwritten notes So that took five days and then I thought I felt so much better about the bio section again. So I took another practice test and did terribly. I knew I was getting better though. I just felt like I was getting the stuff. The next time I went through destroyer, I would do 20 questions at a time and then score myself. Out of all 500+ questions, I think my best score was 19/20 and my worst was 11/20. After each set of 20, I would go through the questions and make a notecard for every little piece of information I didn't know. Seriously. It takes a long time but it definitely paid off. Make a notecard for it all. I probably had 3-400 bio notecards (I included more than one piece of info on notecards sometimes and some of the questions in destroyer are repetitive).

          Then dedicate your time to going through the notecards. The first time I went through, I separated them into three piles: a pile of cards I knew extremely well and had no questions on, a pile I kinda knew or had an idea about but was not confident, and a pile for things I'd literally never heard of. The pile for things I knew really well had about 14 cards in it. Go through the cards every single day and eventually when you separate into three piles again, you'll feel so much moreconfident when you see how many are in your pile of cards you know. Then once you start to know these, take another bootcamp test; you'll see how much your hard work is paying off. I believe that if you know all of your notecards as well as all the explanations for information that shows up on the bootcamp bio problems that weren't covered in destroyer, you will be well prepared to score successfully on the DAT bio section. Seriously, make sure you know all the info in all the bootcamp bio explanations. It's just as important as the Destroyer info. If you need to make more notecards for those, do so.

          Obviously each person's study habits are different and not everything works for each person. This just so happened to work for me. Hopefully you can pick and choose a few tactics that I used in order make something work for yourself. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

          TL;DR: once you are confident in the overall themes and tour background, just memorize destroyer and then assess with bootcamp.
           
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          Bersabeh

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            does anyone recommend qvalut or chad videos? what is the best way to build your foundation and get the timing down? I mean other than BC and destroyer.
            where do I get more questions to practice with???? some version of d DAT are not quite as how most Sdner's describe, preety long and time consuming and deep in higher bio stuffs
            please recommend me which combination to use. tnx
             
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            JLT223

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              does anyone recommend qvalut or chad videos? what is the best way to build your foundation and get the timing down? I mean other than BC and destroyer.
              where do I get more questions to practice with???? some version of d DAT are not quite as how most Sdner's describe, preety long and time consuming and deep in higher bio stuffs
              please recommend me which combination to use. tnx
              Qvault is excellent.
               

              Axiomatician

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                I got DAT Destroyer in the mail today, along with Math Destroyer. I am on Chapter 7 of Cliffs, and so far I feel like I've retained 50% of the information I have went through so far. I will continue to grind out biology and do my best. Ari's study guide calls to use DAT Destroyer starting week 5. I am on week 3, but I am tempted to go ahead and work 10-20 problems in both Gen Chem and Biology every day. Does anyone have an objection to this, or does anyone think it could be beneficial to go ahead and start assessing where I am with Destroyer? Thanks for all the great replies to this, lots of good info...
                 

                JLT223

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                  The best way to learn bio is to do Destroyer and make your own notes on anything and everything you don't understand. If you still don't understand it, look it up elsewhere. That book was my saving grace. It took me WEEKS to go through the whole thing just once. Take your time and read every explanation as there are like 6 facts in 1 question.
                   
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                  Bersabeh

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                    The best way to learn bio is to do Destroyer and make your own notes on anything and everything you don't understand. If you still don't understand it, look it up elsewhere. That book was my saving grace. It took me WEEKS to go through the whole thing just once. Take your time and read every explanation as there are like 6 facts in 1 question.
                    did u ever use qvault for bio? is it of any use? some recommend it, some say nothing.
                     

                    orgoman22

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                      I got DAT Destroyer in the mail today, along with Math Destroyer. I am on Chapter 7 of Cliffs, and so far I feel like I've retained 50% of the information I have went through so far. I will continue to grind out biology and do my best. Ari's study guide calls to use DAT Destroyer starting week 5. I am on week 3, but I am tempted to go ahead and work 10-20 problems in both Gen Chem and Biology every day. Does anyone have an objection to this, or does anyone think it could be beneficial to go ahead and start assessing where I am with Destroyer? Thanks for all the great replies to this, lots of good info...
                      Hi, I am not certain why students are advised to delay using the Destroyer until week 5, you are correct in your thinking, you should start assessing where you are with the Destroyer immediately. It is not a book to be feared, it is a book that can be used to turn a weakness into a strength. A common mistake that students make is waiting too long to start the Destroyer and not finishing the work. The Destroyer is VERY challenging but so is the DAT.

                      Just my 2 cents..

                      Wishing you the best and feel free to pm me if you have anymore questions on the Destroyer.

                      Nancy
                       
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                      Axiomatician

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                        Hi, I am not certain why students are advised to delay using the Destroyer until week 5, you are correct in your thinking, you should start assessing where you are with the Destroyer immediately. It is not a book to be feared, it is a book that can be used to turn a weakness into a strength. A common mistake that students make is waiting too long to start the Destroyer and not finishing the work. The Destroyer is VERY challenging but so is the DAT.

                        Just my 2 cents..

                        Wishing you the best and feel free to pm me if you have anymore questions on the Destroyer.

                        Nancy

                        THANKS SO MUCH! For you to say that really says something!

                        Ari's Study Schedule does in fact hold off until Week 5, once Chad's videos are done.

                        I will start using DAT Destroyer soon, working between 20-30 Biology, Gen Chem, and QR, subsequently reviewing and taking in depth notes/flash cards after I finish each section for that day.
                         
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                        orgoman22

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                          THANKS SO MUCH! For you to say that really says something!

                          Ari's Study Schedule does in fact hold off until Week 5, once Chad's videos are done.

                          I will start using DAT Destroyer soon, working between 10-20 Biology, Gen Chem, and QR, subsequently reviewing and taking in depth notes/flash cards after I finish each section for that day.
                          Sounds like an excellent plan, study guides are just guides you can make your own plan and adjust for what works best for you.
                           
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                          pinkrosie88

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                            I know the biology section is very dense, obviously. What helped me was to read cliffs at least two times, do destroyer at least 2 times, and then do bootcamp and qvault 2 times. I know it sounds like a lot, but better be safe than sorry right?
                            Anything that you don't understand, buy bright sticky notes and write the concept,picture, or formula down. Stick it on your wall where you usually study, so you come across it every day. You get used to seeing it so much that it just automatically sits in your brain. This helped for me :)

                            Good luck!
                             
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