The 3 Keys to Acing Biology: Tips from an Experienced Teacher

The thought of ‘studying biology’ often conjures up images of books as thick as bricks, stacks of notes that can act as doorstoppers, and late nights memorising keywords with a headache. Is biology really just a ‘hardcore memorisation’ subject? Does it have to be this hard?

Beyond just a subject in school, biology is highly relevant to our daily lives and our future. In Singapore especially, biomedical engineering contributed a whopping 65% to the growth of the manufacturing sector in 2014. It will remain a central focus for years to come, and is something that we should prepare our children to be future-ready for.

Here are 3 Keys to help your child succeed in their biology examinations!

1. Link the topics – and spot the patterns!

Some biology topics like Biomolecules occur over and over again within other topics e.g. Enzymes, and it would be a good idea to keep this in mind when your child is revising for the examinations. Topics should not be studied in isolation but should be linked together. After all, the body’s systems are interconnected!

Another key trick: some question patterns repeat exam after exam. For example, ‘structure and function’ is a very common question across the years. Spot the patterns and half your work is done!

The best part is, knowing one topic well will help with the learning of other topics. For example, knowing that cell memberanes are impermeable to charged ions helps one understand that it can form cellular compartments to build up a reservoir of H+ ions during photosynthesis and respiration

2. Root words – break them down to build them up! 

Root words are like incantations for magic spells – they hold the secret to using the phrase properly!

Example 1:

Take this example: ‘homologous chromosomes’.
‘Homo’ means ‘same’.
It helps you remember that ‘homologous chromosomes’ are chromosomes which are similar in size, shape, centromere position and staining pattern – and are the same type of chromosome.

These root words can even be applied to different terms across the diverse Biology syllabus!
For example, an individual is ‘homozygous’ for a certain trait if it has two of the same alleles.

Example 2:

‘Hydrolysis’, ‘glycolysis’, ‘photolysis’. What do these have in common?

‘Lysis’ means ‘break down’.
‘Hydrolysis’ is the breaking of a chemical bond through reacting with water.
‘Glycolysis’ is the break down of glucose.
‘Photolysis’ is the break down of a molecule induced by light. 

As you can see, root words help you better understand and retain biological concepts!

3. Bite-sized content – to better digest!

Biology may seem to be an intimidating subject, but it is not that daunting if you break the syllabus into small parts – such as by using flashcards or drawing your own annotated diagrams! Making your own notes helps you learn in your own style to maximize memory retention and understanding.

Doing a small amount of revision each week rather than cramming all the information a few days before the examination also works much better and eases examination panic as well.

In conclusion, biology is a subject that one can conquer and eventually appreciate and we hope that these Keys will help your child take the first steps towards succeeding at their biology examinations!

About our teacher

Victor Wu has more than 10 years of experience in Biology for MOE syllabus in both public and private education. He has also trained and prepared students for the Biology Olympiads. Victor has an Honours degree in Microbiology from the National University of Singapore and a post-graduate Diploma in Education with Merit from the National Institute of Education.

The Keys Academy has highly effective classes conducted by experienced teachers. Find out more about how we can help or sign up for a trial class HERE.

Contact us at +65 6734 8559 or contact@thekeys.global. Visit our website at http://www.thekeys.academy/ to find out more!

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