My results at school are worrying. I get very good grades in most subjects except for biology. In spite of all my efforts, and burning the midnight oil before exams, I just never manage to get good grades for it. I am so frustrated, especially when my parents pressure me by comparing me to my older sister, who excels in science subjects. Are there any effective ways for me to improve my grades, or at least to relieve some of my internal pressure about studies?
A lost biologist
Dear Lost biologist,
A specific study method works well for biology, which contains many difficult definitions and complicated processes.
First, build your foundation: tackle the subject every single day, in small chunks. Don't leave everything for a once-a-week study marathon.
Use pens, pencils and flash cards for writing down important definitions - don't just read the textbooks or notes, as your brain will get bored and tired.
Start with the first chapter: read through the textbook, then write down (in your own words, without peeking at the book) what you remember and understand. Next, read through your class notes, and repeat the process.
If your brain feels "fried", take a break. Go back to the most difficult bits later, and use the internet to do more research on it, rather than just staring at your class notes.
Make a list of definitions and new terms, such as "metamorphosis" or "photosynthesis" and put these on flash cards.
Create your own mini-exam from each page or chapter, making sure that you cover the main concepts, definitions and processes.
When you learn something new in class, go over it at home on the same day - and then read through the previous chapters just to "jog" your memory a bit.
Email your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org, and watch for Alex's answers. And don't worry, you can remain anonymous.