Preparing for an exam is not an easy task for most of the students, especially when we are talking about scientific subjects, such as Biochemistry. On the contrary, the preparation process is usually quite stressful and exhausting. The main reason for this is that students do not really know how to prepare for an upcoming test. The confusion affects their mood and willingness to study since they just do not know where and how to start.
Although teachers, tutors, and lecturers have a significant influence on how their students perform on exams, test results heavily depend on how well students prepare for the test. Even if the material is thoroughly explained during the lectures, the students should review and master the concepts to get higher exam scores.
Preparing for a particular group of subjects might be a relatively straightforward process due to the fact that some of them are quite easy to understand and they do not require extensive practice. For instance, if you are preparing for the exam in History, you have to read and memorize some facts, names, and dates. Then you review the material several times, and you are ready to go!
Notwithstanding, preparing for an exam in any scientific subject, including Biochemistry, requires a complete understanding of concepts and ideas. Therefore, reading the chapters from the book is not enough. Since most of the students do not know how to study for a Biochemistry test, their performance on the exams is relatively poor.
Besides, implementing proper study techniques will help you manage and reduce stress levels and dramatically improve your performance on the exam. To help you with that, we decided to provide 5 quick tips for successful Biochemistry exam preparation:
- Organize your study area
- Never memorize chapters
- Do not study the night before an exam
- Follow the study guide or specifications
- Practice and review the material with friends
If you are among the students who need some assistance with preparation for a Biochemistry test and the tips listed above seem interesting, keep reading!
#1. Organize your study area
There are several proven ways to organize your study space in a way that increases the chances of your academic success. Some of the options are the following:
- Remove extra items
The first thing every student should do before studying or reading a chapter is to organize the study area. For instance, you should get rid of any extra stuff within your study space. Only leave the items that you need for studying a particular subject. This will help you focus on the material and maximize your performance by minimizing the distraction.
- Make sure you feel comfy while studying
You should also make sure that you feel comfortable while sitting in your chair at the desk. Another essential aspect to consider is lighting. Having enough light focusing on a specific area makes it easier for you to concentrate and complete various tasks, including but not limited to reading and writing. By proper lighting, you can prevent or reduce eyestrain and easily overcome mental exhaustion.
- Create an environment that best suits you
You should always think about what works best specifically for you while creating the study environment. For instance, some might prefer complete silence, while others favor some chilling music playing in the background. Various studies have proven that music can help students by minimizing stress and anxiety while studying. Along with that, a properly selected playlist can also aid students in relaxing their minds, strengthening attention, and improving concentration.
- Create a study schedule and keep it nearby
Besides distraction-fighting techniques provided above, there are several ways for organizing your study space that will definitely support you in focusing on the material. For instance, one of the common ways is to attach a study schedule to the wall. If you do not want to hang extra papers on the wall, you can simply create a study plan and have it around you while studying.
By creating a robust study schedule, you can make sure that you study and review every chapter and concept that will be included in a particular test. You can identify short- and long-term goals, list the things you need to do for each chapter or assignment, prioritize the tasks, and take into account your availability as well.
#2. Never memorize chapters
One of the most common mistakes that Biochemistry students make is the memorization of chapters and concepts. If this study technique works for some subjects, such as History or Geography, there is no way one can perform well on the exam by memorizing the terms and chapter summaries. Obviously, you can memorize some of the terms (e.g., names and abbreviations of various biological molecules), but it is crucial to fully understand the concept.
For instance, you might memorize the names of the essential amino acids. Still, you should be able to draw the structure by analyzing the name and identifying the functional groups that are present in a particular compound. Along with that, the understanding of how everything works is also of huge importance for solving problems, such as genetics probabilities.
You should start learning and understanding the concepts from the beginning since they are all connected. The topics get more and more challenging as you proceed through the book. Even though, you can quickly absorb new chapters if you have enough knowledge and understanding of previous ones.
Some of the tips on how to stop memorizing chapters are as follows:
- Be involved in the classroom and participate in discussions
One of the best ways to stop memorizing biochemical concepts is to follow your tutor during the lecture and ask as many questions as you need to understand the topic. Some of the students are afraid of asking questions in the classroom, which makes it harder for them to get the point. Asking some relevant questions will increase in-class engagement and also help tutors improve their lectures by knowing which topics seem relatively challenging and complicated to the students. Therefore, participation in in-class discussions is an essential means of exchanging information between the students and teachers as well as among students themselves.
- Read chapters and make some notes
Dozens of students perceive that reading the chapter just once is enough to study the material. This might be true if you want to memorize some concepts, but there is no way one can fully understand the idea of a particular topic with just one glance at the book.
On the contrary, students should thoroughly read the chapter and make notes, which can be very helpful for reviewing the material. Along with that, you can just continue studying the chapter using your short notes rather than reading the entire section from the book.
- Solve problems related to the chapter
Almost every Biochemistry textbook provides relevant problem sets at the end of each chapter. Solving the problems associated with a particular topic that you have already studied will improve your knowledge and understanding. Typically, practice and repetition increase the chances that you will remember the information for a longer period of time.
#3. Do not study the night before an exam
Studying the night before an actual exam is yet another common mistake that Biochemistry students make. At first glance, some of the chapters might seem quite straightforward and easy to understand, but as soon as you are asked to solve a problem or answer a question, you might still get confused. This happens because you think you know the material that you do not really understand.
Biochemistry requires a comprehensive knowledge of a wide array of principles from several disciplines, including Chemistry and Biochemistry. Therefore, preparing for a Biochemistry exam the day (or even a couple of days) ahead will most probably not help you at all.
Starting to prepare for your Biochemistry exam early will make you confident of performing well, no matter what comes up on the test. The following tricks will for sure help you to do so:
- Read chapters way ahead of the actual exam
Since reading the chapters is not a quick task, it is essential to start reading the book way ahead of the exam date. In this way, you have the time to read, analyze the material, and read it once again if there is still something you do not understand.
Along with that, you should also pay great attention to the images, graphs, or charts provided within the chapter. If you have decided to study the chapter in just one day, you will not have enough time to review any supplementary material, which will significantly impact your final score. Moreover, tests usually cover several chapters, which makes it even more unrealistic to properly read every chapter.
- Take notes after reading the chapter and during the lectures
Taking notes after reading each chapter as well as during the lectures is very important. Teachers usually emphasize the concepts that they are going to put on the test. Therefore, you should always be attentive during the lectures and the notes will help you to review what the teacher discussed in class.
Creating some notes requires time and you just cannot do it in one day. You need enough time to read, listen, and then take relevant notes, which will guarantee that you reap the benefit at exam time.
- Ask questions if the material that you read was not clear enough for you to understand
Asking questions about the content that you do not understand is essential. Therefore, you need to start preparing for a test earlier to have time to analyze the chapters and then ask the tutor if anything is still unclear.
#4. Follow the study guide and specifications
Teachers and professors at different educational facilities usually provide a study guide for each exam. The guide comprises a list of topics that students should expect to see on a test. Following the study guide will help you to make sure that you are prepared for every chapter and topic that you might be required to explain on an exam.
But still, some tutors do not provide their students with a guide. In such cases, they might just verbally discuss the topics of an upcoming exam during the lecture. So, you have to be very attentive and involved in the classroom.
If your teacher did not send out any type of study guide, try to ask him/her to do so. This will significantly improve your understanding of Biochemistry as well as the performance at the exam.
Another type of study guide is “specifications,” which is the list of exam topics provided by various examination boards. The specifications are typically available on official websites of specific examination facilities. Even if your scores in Biochemistry are high at school or university, different examination boards might require topics that are not the same as you have already studied. Therefore, you should download the document and study accordingly.
#5. Practice and review the material with friends
Some students believe that studying with friends will not help them understand the exam material since they will do things that are a waste of time. This might be true for the students who prefer to have fun rather than properly prepare for an upcoming test.
But, if you are willing to study and do well on an exam, practicing and reviewing material with friends is a great way to learn more. In the case of Biochemistry, there might be some topics that are not provided in a textbook or covered during the lectures. Scientific subjects can be perceived in many different ways and the same concept can be explained in various manners.
For example, you might not understand a particular issue that is explained in the textbook. On the other hand, your classmate might know how to interpret the same exact concept in another way. Along with that, it has been proven that teaching can also improve your knowledge.
Some other aspects that make studying with friends so beneficial is the fact that it increases students’ motivation. Besides, study groups enable students to review the material in a playful manner and share some views and insights with each other.