One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Bootcamp is how to better prepare for the Biology Section. One of the hardest things about the bio section is that it covers a mountain of material. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your study.
How long should I spend each day studying for the biology section? If you are following the 10-week schedule, the materials for each day can take between 4 and 7 hours to complete. You should aim to spend at least one hour per day on biology-related topics (though some days will be more and some days will be less).
Be consistent with your study! It is very easy to postpone studying biology, or to fall out of habit if you skip a day, but consistent study paired with review is the best way to retain the information you are going to need.
Can I just use the condensed 120-page bio notes? The 120-page condensed notes are a great resource for quicker review; they are made to be extremely high-yield. They cover most of the same material as Bio Academy, but the 120 page bio notes are a lot more succinct. Whenever you’re weaker in a subject, use Bio Academy to learn all the details. If you’re more comfortable and you’re more pressed for time, use the 120 page bio notes. Note: No matter how much you study the biology material, it is impossible to predict what questions you will be asked on your OAT. Be prepared for a couple of curve-ball questions about topics that you did not study for. Make an educated decision to choose the best answer, move on, and don’t let it get you down!
Be smart with your bio study. Spend more time reviewing material on topics you have not seen in a while or are less familiar with. If you just took a university course on a certain biology subject and you’re strong in it, don’t spend as much time reviewing that subject. Instead, focus more of your efforts on the material from that biology course you took three years ago and promptly forgot.
Evaluate your progress. As you are studying, perform periodic self evaluations of where you are at with the material.
- Skim through the condensed bio notes for about 10 minutes and write a list of those areas that you feel weak in. This will help ensure you don’t only study what you’re comfortable with, or spend too much focused time on niche subjects that are lower yield.
- Make a list of common topics that you have personally seen come up on practice exams and in practice questions. Compare with the list above and prioritize your time studying those topics that overlap.
- Keep a separate list of topics you want to spend more time reviewing. Note down the page and the subject – this will make it easier to flip back to topics you want to review when you have the time.
Use the question banks and practice tests. Do not overlook these as a study tool! Each explanation goes into a concept-specific review of what is covered in the question. After you take practice tests, take time to go through each explanation. Take note of the kinds of questions you tend to miss; this can help you pinpoint areas where you are weak and give you a good idea of where you need to focus your study.
Mix it up! Bottom line, if you feel like you aren’t being effective with your bio study, you probably aren’t. If you feel like you aren’t learning, switch things up! Try flashcards, our YouTube playlist, or break up your study into small sessions so that you aren’t reading bio material in huge blocks. There are plenty of resources available to help you learn, so experiment and see what works best for you!
Use the Bio Resources. Pre-dents have used these resources with a ton of success, be sure to check them out:
- The condensed bio notes – This is a condensed, high-yield version of the Bio Academy that covers the most frequently OAT-tested items.
- The Biology Academy – Our OAT specific online biology textbook. If you have lots of time to study, work as much as you can out of Biology Academy; it goes into more depth and covers more topics than the condensed bio notes.
- Quizlet flashcards – Our Quizlet flashcard decks have hundreds of flashcards per chapter and are pulled from the topics in Bio Academy. These are accessible from the Biology Classroom homepage.
- YouTube videos – our Biology video playlist covers many relevant topics, and other topics are a quick search away.
- Question banks and practice tests – use these frequently to help you review and gauge your understanding.
- The Expert Educators – we have lots of experience helping people prepare for the OAT. If you need some help, ask us!