Strategies for biology labs relate to finishing labs in a timely manner, following the directions correctly, and preparing for lab exams.
Prepare for each lab by reading the procedure before class. Prepare an "abbreviated lab procedure." In other words, write out a shortened, step-by-step version of what you will be doing for the next lab, eliminating all extraneous words and explanations. Then just refer to the lab manual for clarification during lab.
For example, the abbreviated procedure might be:
Some students prefer to highlight the lab manual instead of writing an abbreviated procedure, but writing is preferred because entering information with more than one sense increases understanding and retention.
Slide Identification with Flash Cards
Some lab evaluations require identification of slides. The slides may be of cells, cell structures, species, or parts of the anatomy. Flash cards are a good way to approach this lab task.
First you must xerox the diagram or figure from your lab book or text book. You may have to reduce the figure so it will fit on an index card. Use white-out to cover over the terms that identify structures on the diagram or figure. Number the structures to be identified. Cut out and attach this altered form of the illustration to one side of the index card. Identify the numbered structures on the back side of the card.
Make use of the entire lab time. Resist the temptation to leave early. Be prepared with flash cards or other study aids to review if you have extra time. Many lab courses run only part of the semester; some only last one month. It may seem that you are working all the time, but remember that it will only last a few weeks! If you get behind it will be difficult to catch up.
Some students will not prepare for labs because they have a quiz at the beginning of every lab and the "don't want to confuse the old and new material." With this time management strategy, one can do both.
It often helps to put this schedule on a monthly planner, such as the one below.
Lab Schedule for Biology 111:
Keep a separate notebook for lab materials. A three-ring binder is recommended as handouts and study aids may be added easily. Use dividers to separate different labs or different types of material (e.g. notes, tests, handouts). Binders with pockets or dividers with pockets allow you to keep flash cards with the other lab material.
Lab Testing Formats
The lab testing format depends on the type of lab and instructor. The format of the lab test will influence how you should prepare for the test. Ask the instructor about the testing format you should expect. Although it is best to ask the instructor, you can also find other students who have taken the class and ask them about test formats.
For Muskingum College's instructors, the following formats may be expected unless told otherwise.