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Tips to Survive Grade 11 Bio!

By Sean D'Mello

Photo from www.instagram.com/kookstudy

Grade 11 is a stressful year, and some students find it difficult to acclimatize to the expectations of a university level pathway. The Grade 11 Biology course is no exception to this. This course is heavy, and likely one of the hardest courses you will take in high school. But don’t fret, because with this specific guide, you can get an A in biology and lay the foundation for a great mark in Grade 12 bio.


Firstly, understand the nature of the course—memorization. Memorization is key, and not an option. Unlike courses like math or chemistry, where understanding a concept can pose as the largest hurdle to success, the content in biology is not so abstract and demanding to get your head around. Unfortunately, it makes up for this through the abundance of knowledge thrown at the student every lesson. As the student, coming to terms with this course’s memorization-heavy curriculum will find you the most success.

Secondly, ensure a thorough understanding of every lesson before learning the next. In biology, lessons go from general to specific, FAST. Every lesson is built off of the fundamentals taught in the last. The worst thing you can do is sit through a lesson without understanding the content, wasting the opportunity to learn more efficiently in the classroom setting. If you don’t fully understand what your teacher has taught you, ask them about it after school, and if you can’t do that, watch some YouTube videos about the topic (I recommend Crash Course-Biology).

Thirdly, start using flash cards. Biology, like no subject before it, has a huge abundance of terminology. Some say a beginning course in biology presents more new terms than the first-year of studying a foreign language! Although, some are dissuaded from using flash cards, preferring to write study notes and quizzing themselves off that, the abundance of terminology in biology capitalizes from short and fast active recall offered by flash cards.

Fourthly, having a general understanding of root words will help you in biology. Keep a handout, like this one, in your binder and read over it every so often. Having a grasp of the words’ etymology will 100% ensure a deeper understanding of new and old terms.

Fifth, use diagrams! Illustrations allow for a deeper understanding of a concept. For example, you could write out the definition of ‘osmosis’-

Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a selectively permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.

Or you could just draw out this diagram.

Save yourself time and draw an illustration when needed. Bring coloured pencils to class to give more depth to your drawings, and make it more fun. Some teachers, routinely use illustrations to explain a topic, so make sure you copy those diagrams, too, for future referral.

Finally, during a lesson, do not assume you will remember small tidbits of information because you won’t. Biology is the type of course where you can remember the definition of a new term one day, but after learning the new load of information from the next lesson, completely forget it. While you don’t want to overload your notes, if there is a new concept, just write it down, at least in the margins. Often times, teachers will indirectly mention the Application and Thinking questions that will be on the test through these small tidbits and expect for the quick concepts mentioned in class to be extended upon on these tests. Just write it down!

Use these tips to guide your learning in biology. They will allow you to relieve the initial stress of the course, and hopefully let you see the interest that can come from the classroom.

Perhaps, through this alleviation, you will find enjoyment or even a passion in the academics of the course, and choose to specialize in the field as early as Grade 11. In the end, however, the most important tip will always be memorization, and if you do that along with the other tips, you will find success. :)

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