5 Helpful Note-Taking Tips for Biology Classes

Taking notes is an inevitable part of the studying process especially when it comes to your biology classes. Can you find the same information on Wikipedia? Absolutely. Can you interpret it in the same manner your professor did? Don’t think so. Taking science notes is a kind of art since you deal with both visual and audial information trying to transform it into text (and maybe even sketches). The key is not just being aware of the tips below, but also practice at least 2 of them regularly so that taking biology notes doesn’t make you tremor. 

Note-taking tips:

Prepare for combat!

There are so many note-taking tools – starting from your favorite notebook ending up with not less favorite Evernote. Imagine a brief check-list of items you should bring to your class – pen, pencil, highlighter, markers, or simply a charged laptop. Make sure you didn’t forget to bring review sheets or online notes prepared by your professor (if shared). 

Take care of pre-reading

You’re most likely to know the topic of your lecture – why not glance over the whole chapter in advance? In case you don’t have a textbook, look up essay websites – they have almost every topic you will cover during your course. If you have enough time, you are welcome to write down all the unknown terms, if not – just look at the pictures. Studying biology is all about the visual representation of the theoretical blocks.

Record the lecture

Before the lecture starts, ask permission to record it from your professor. The vast majority of college instructors have nothing against it since they realize the dramatic results of teaching biology in a superfast manner. By the way, there are some applications, which may automatically make a set of notes for you if having the proper format downloaded. Just like your website that writes essays for you, this app may save you lots of time and energy.  

Come up with the creative format 

Even though you may feel a bit skeptical about using colored pencils in your twenties, they may actually contribute a lot to your note-taking process. As you can read from Paperell, most of the students learn faster with the help of visuals. What does it mean? Creating diagrams, highlighting keywords, and drawing schemes may serve a great alternative to writing. Even when planning an essay or generating content for a website, you may come up with its visual version for saving your time and embracing a hidden creative potential. 

Write down the keywords 

Along with the professor speaking, you have to write down the keywords – mainly nouns and adjectives. What can be more obvious, you ask? Most of the students are not able to identify the main points when listening to the speech trying to note each word instead. Therefore, you have to concentrate on the information and analyze it on the spot. The more keywords you have, the easier you can use websites that write papers for you. 

Here is an example of the keywords taken during the “Cell theory” lecture:

  • Theodor Schwann & Matthias Jakob Schleiden – crystallization process (till 1850)
  • Original cell theory: 1. All living organisms… 2. Basic units… 3. Pre-existing cells
  • Remak – cell division – 1852 – binary fission
  • Modern theory: 1, 2, 3 + 4. activity… 5. metabolism & biochemistry… 6. DNA & RNA… 7. similar chemical composition
  • Prokaryotes (nucleus+mitochondria) & eukaryotes (nucleus+plasma membrane)

How to take notes from a textbook?

Some students consider a textbook to be a written analog of what your professor is talking about. In fact, if you’re lucky to use a textbook, you own another precious source of knowledge apart from your offline lectures. 

Textbooks are an amazing tool for learning due to visuals, pictures, and tables they have along with the textual content. You should learn how to interact with your book both during and after the lecture. It’s better to follow the speech and glance at the book from time to time. If you’re allowed to highlight important points right on the textbook pages, don’t miss this unique chance! If not – put the appropriate references to your notebook (e.g., see fig. 2.3, p.534). 

After your notes are ready…

When you’re finished with writing and drawing, you made one more step towards your academic excellence. However, your brain needs to see these notes at least 4 more times to remember at least 60% of this data. Therefore, you have to review everything you’ve been working on, look for possible mistakes, and maybe add something extra you remembered from your lecture. Don’t hesitate to also check some useful sources recommended by your instructor.

At first sight, making notes looks easy. Before we visit our first biology class, we might not even realize how much practice note-taking actually requires. All in all, biology classes wouldn’t be possible without taking notes. Just imagine writing all the tests and quizzes without having memorized the key points from your notebook! Start practicing today and become a note guru.

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Written by Austin Crane

Austin is the principle web director for Untamed Science and Stone Age Man. He is also the web-director of the series for the High School biology, Middle Grades Science and Elementary Science content. When Austin isn't making amazing content for the web, he's out on his mountain bike or in a canoe.

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