Nontrad Dad

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After years of sitting on my hands too fearful to start down a path I didn't think I could finish, I'm finally taking the first of my pre-med requirements next semester - Bio 1!

I'm extremely rusty and anxious to begin, so any recommendations on prepping for it? I'm thinking about getting a head start by watching those online lectures by Khan Academy and Academic Earth.. Good idea or waste of time?

Thanks in advance!
 
Jan 18, 2011
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Congratulations! Remember it's a marathon, not a race. Take time to do well!
I've found for myself things make more sense when I have something to read to go along with a video series. Pick up a AP biology review book from amazon (cheap), or even a old biology textbook. Then you can follow along in the book with the topics online. Haven't done biology in a while, but when (if?) you get to chemistry, be sure you've brushed up on your college algebra skills as well.
Do your best!
 
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Funke

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Watching stuff like Khan Academy really can't hurt. Typically Bio 1 will start with a little bit of chemistry, and pretty much stay on track with cellular biology and genetics for the whole semester. You can get a book and skim if you're a reader, or just watch Khan and youtube to get familiar with the broad concepts of Bio 1. I just finished Bio 1 and Chem 1, and what helped me the most was reading the textbook part before class, then if I still didn't understand it very well after class, watching Khan or searching the topic on Youtube (although I did that a lot more for chemistry than biology). And if you like notecards, Anki is a computer and phone based app that has made studying 1000x easier for me.
 
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silleme

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I think the hardest part for me going back to school was remembering how to study for retention. I can pass quizzes and write papers, but comprehensive mid-terms and finals always were too hard to study for. I can't recall where I read it, but there was a study on memory retention where you went through a stack of notecards, either bunched into groups of 5 to review 5 times each then the next, or the whole stack. They said reviewing the whole group everyday would work better than the small stacks as it helps commit it better to long-term memory.

Now I'm not great with notecards, but I do take a lot of notes and find it's much easier to remember something if I wrote and re-wrote it than just studying from the book. Everyone's retention methods are different, but find something that works for you while doing the Khan Academy or other videos, and you'll have an edge when school starts and your classes pick up in difficulty.
 
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Nontrad Dad

Nontrad Dad

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Thanks all for the tips! I have just under 2 months to get as much prep in before the spring semester starts.. One concern I have is investing too much brain real estate in the concepts I learn through Khan and other sources, and then having to relearn them in a slightly different way/order when class begins. Doesn't hurt to familiarize myself with the material though!

I think the hardest part for me going back to school was remembering how to study for retention. I can pass quizzes and write papers, but comprehensive mid-terms and finals always were too hard to study for.
That's exactly my fear going into this! I'll be trying various notecard strategies to see what sticks.

Best of luck to everyone else just beginning this journey!
 
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Congrats on getting started. I found Bozeman Biology youtube videos helpful for understanding concepts that I wasn't 100% on. Just don't get behind and don't be afraid to try new ways to study.
 
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jayoh

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After years of sitting on my hands too fearful to start down a path I didn't think I could finish, I'm finally taking the first of my pre-med requirements next semester - Bio 1!

I'm extremely rusty and anxious to begin, so any recommendations on prepping for it? I'm thinking about getting a head start by watching those online lectures by Khan Academy and Academic Earth.. Good idea or waste of time?

Thanks in advance!
Awesome! Congrats on taking the first step. The journey of a million miles...

I remember feeling like it was a long and intimidating path to getting accepted. I don't think I fully believed myself that I was going to go to med school until I was done with the prereqs.

Khan academy is awesome. He is a crazy good teacher. You can also find a lot of free lectures on iTunes U.

Good luck!
 
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Nov 6, 2013
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Thanks all for the tips! I have just under 2 months to get as much prep in before the spring semester starts.. One concern I have is investing too much brain real estate in the concepts I learn through Khan and other sources, and then having to relearn them in a slightly different way/order when class begins. Doesn't hurt to familiarize myself with the material though!



That's exactly my fear going into this! I'll be trying various notecard strategies to see what sticks.

Best of luck to everyone else just beginning this journey!
The way I have had success is to try and make as many connections between what you know and what you are learning as possible. There is nothing wrong with learning the same concepts in a different way because it just makes your mind more flexible. Youtube videos of biological processes are really, really good reinforcers of information.

I'm not a big flashcard person cuz i don't like the mess. I find the best way to retain information is to read slowly. I also write down all vocab words and concepts with tables in ms word and just cover the answers with my calculator. Also, practice the questions in the book.
 
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Something I found really helpful is to look at each new vocab word and try to find the roots and what the different prefixes and suffixes mean. If you take the time to learn this skill now while you're first starting out, you eventually pick up the language and it carries throughout so many of the science classes.
 
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Nontrad Dad

Nontrad Dad

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Something I found really helpful is to look at each new vocab word and try to find the roots and what the different prefixes and suffixes mean.
I've heard this once before - a long time ago - and remember thinking how it was such a great way to approach text. Thanks for the reminder!
 

FromTheGroundUp

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I actually did this last winter before i started post-bacc. I looked up open online chem 1 courses (the free ones- MOOCs), and just followed the lectures as if I was in class. This helped me sooooo much once I actually started school in the spring. I was able to follow what the instructor was teaching and was able to connect my class, the "prep class", and my actual textbook! I ended up with a B in the class :)soexcited:) because Lab was something I was beyond UNFAMILIAR with (didnt know how to keep a lab notebook and just in general didnt know how to work in a lab).

None the less, I encourage prep work! go for it!
 
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I've heard this once before - a long time ago - and remember thinking how it was such a great way to approach text. Thanks for the reminder!
no problem. as for common bio 1 topics, i'd just google a bit about:

Earth's biomes
Mendel's pea plants
Mitosis/Meiosis
Anatomy of the cell/what each organelle does
Transcription/Translation

.....and don't try to memorize anything. Since you aren't under the pressure of a looming test now, you have the time to just read for understanding. When they start talking about it in the classroom, having at least seen the topics beforehand can be really helpful. Even if you don't know everything about the topic already, you'll probably be less anxious because you won't feel like you're going in blind. And honestly, I think the anxiety is worse than the material in most cases.

Congrats on taking the plunge! You'll do great! :)
 
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Nontrad Dad

Nontrad Dad

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And honestly, I think the anxiety is worse than the material in most cases.
Totally agree. And not knowing the material adds to the anxiety. ;)
 

Chip N Sawbones

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As one more way to prepare for returning to college, if you can't type fast already, this would be a good time to learn. I'm having trouble taking notes in class because I can't type fast enough to keep up with lecturers, and if I try to write notes by hand I either have to write slowly or I can't read my own doctor-style handwriting. In med school it isn't so bad because I can watch recorded lectures and pause any time I need to take notes, but I basically got through my postbac without ever taking notes during class.
 

mk04447

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Big concepts to consider... Don't get hung up on a plan and get discouraged when something gets in the way. I thought I could hunker down and wipe the prerequisites out in three semesters, rail the MCAT, and soar into a school. It won't work this way or any other way your planning things. Now in my fourth year back to school on my second application cycle I can promise work will interfere with course selection, colleges aren't structured to offer multiple lab sciences simultaneously with much easy (lecture, lab, and sometimes recitation will overlap negatively), and if you have a family, sports, dates, etc. will further complicate things. I don't remember reading your age (many 25 year olds think their non-traditional students and won't have some of these concerns) but, if you do just accept that the path is harder for us and isn't travelled often for this reason. Keep your chin up and make whatever the best decisions are at each turn and if you're anything like me the more time and energy you expel on the journey will further ignite your passion to reach the finish.

As for a specific response to your question, I think Khan Academy is great. Wen you're learning concepts continually ask yourself why? Never memorize, in biology especially, everything is repeated elsewhere (I speak of enzymes and transporters that are used over and over accomplishing the same tasks for different reasons) and understanding why things are happening will take a little extra time but, it will give you droves of critical thinking ability to deduce future concepts on your own. Science is gloriously complex and graceful at the same time, appreciate it and the study habits will appear to you in ways you never imagined... Good luck.
 

Beandog

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Congratulations! Remember it's a marathon, not a race. Take time to do well!

when (if?) you get to chemistry, be sure you've brushed up on your college algebra skills as well.
Do your best!
This and This.
College level Algebra ability will make your life so much easier in physics and inorganic chem.
Take your time and study your pre-reqs very well, which will prep you for the MCAT as well.
Khan Academy is nice and your basic AP Bio/Chem/Physics books lay a great foundation, which is all MCAT prep also. I would graze, not dig to start out, as the amount of material is overwhelming and will take 2+ years , assuming you are starting from a HS knowledge of science.
 
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edgerock24

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no problem. as for common bio 1 topics, i'd just google a bit about:

Earth's biomes
Mendel's pea plants
Mitosis/Meiosis
Anatomy of the cell/what each organelle does
Transcription/Translation


.....and don't try to memorize anything. Since you aren't under the pressure of a looming test now, you have the time to just read for understanding. When they start talking about it in the classroom, having at least seen the topics beforehand can be really helpful. Even if you don't know everything about the topic already, you'll probably be less anxious because you won't feel like you're going in blind. And honestly, I think the anxiety is worse than the material in most cases.

Congrats on taking the plunge! You'll do great! :)
This is great advice and pretty much what is covered during Bio 1. Add a little bit of genetics in there (my bio 1 ended w. some basic genetics) and you should be well ahead of your peers in regard to preparation.

Best of luck!!!
 
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