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Tips for High School Biology Classes

When writing lab reports, be sure to describe all steps, including arranging your supplies and taking safety precautions, so another person could replicate it exactly. Make conclusions based on what you already know; don’t make things up. If the experiment did not go as expected, think about reasons why the results were not the expected ones and how the experiment could be improved. Think up realistic improvements--ask, “How could I do this using more effective lab supplies or methods?”

Correlation does not equal causation: just because two things are happening at the same time does not mean that one is causing the other.

Results of a study or experiment do not “prove,” anything, they merely “suggest” something.

If you choose to listen to music to block out distractions, choose an instrumental track or classical music so the music itself is not particularly distracting.

Use any study resources that your teacher gives you for standardized tests or other finals.

When performing labs, be sure to follow all safety instructions. Safety is no joke, particularly in advanced high school classes (AP/IB) in which toxic chemicals are commonly used.

Always use pencil and graph paper when drawing graphs. Using a ruler does not hurt either!

Science is a topic that often takes a few exposures to one topic to understand. If your teacher provides any supplemental resources, such as articles or videos, be sure to look at them even if they are not part of a graded assignment.

In middle school, you will not generally be required to dissect animals or take care of many live ones; however, you may be required to take care of an aquarium or the like. Treat all animals with respect and take responsibility for their care according to your teacher's instructions.

You may be required to make observations of an outdoor environment. Make sure to connect your observations to what you have discussed in class in order to best demonstrate your understanding of the subject.

You will not need to draw very much in biology, but you may need to draw diagrams for lab reports. Be sure to focus on the most important parts of the picture that relate to your results and draw as accurately as possible.

In many freshman-year biology courses, you will be required to perform a dissection of a frog or similar animal. If dissection goes against your religious or personal beliefs, ask your teacher if you can do an alternate assignment that covers the same material.