Studying for the Sciences

Students looking through a microscope

General chemistry, biology, and other sciences are subjects that many students struggle with and the FYE office would like to offer some tips that past students have used to do well in this difficult course. 

Here are some helpful tips and resources:

  1. Talk to your professor: Your professor is one of the best resources and is required to have 10 office hours dedicated to assisting students with understanding the material and answering your questions. Check the syllabus to find out when and where your professor’s office hours are held.
  2. Utilize PAL Hours: Peer Assisted Learners (PALs) are students who have successfully completed the PAL course and hold office hours to assist current students with homework, answering questions, and holding review sessions. For example: General chemistry PALs can be found in 301 Ottensman Hall every Sunday–Thursday from 6–10 p.m. and during other times as well. For a full schedule of when all PAL hours are held, visit the PAL web page at
  3. Get a personal tutor: You can sign up for one-on-one tutoring at a low cost of $1.50/hour through University Tutoring Services located on the third floor of Brigham Hall. Tutors have completed the course of interest and received either an A or B in the class.
  4. Form a study group with other classmates: Organize a study session between several classmates where you can work on homework, discuss troublesome concepts, and quiz each other on information that will be covered on the exam.
  5. Do practice problems from the back of your textbook: Your textbook is an excellent resource that contains numerous practice problems located at the end of each chapter to test your knowledge on that information. By doing these problems, you will identify the areas in which you excel and those areas that will require further studying and practice. 
  6. Watch a YouTube clip on the concept: Contrary to popular belief, YouTube isn’t just the source of music videos and hilarious cat videos. It is also an excellent study resource. There are hundreds of videos that contain helpful hints and tricks to remember and understand specific concepts and problems. Just type in the concept or type of problem you are having trouble with and take a look at the videos that come up in the search. Warning: Although YouTube can be a helpful resource, but it can also be a major distraction. Make sure you are using it solely for studying and avoid the temptation to procrastinate. Your grades will thank you!
  7. Find a study location away from distractions: Find a quiet place where you can focus on studying without any distractions. Residence Halls tend to be bad locations to study due to the excessive noise and ease in which students can get distracted. Try studying in the library or in an academic building where you can concentrate on the information. Also, turn off all cell phones and electronics while you study. These are the biggest distractions that students run into!
  8. Actively read the textbook: Engage your mind while reading your textbook by relating new concepts with ones that you have previously learned about. This will reinforce your understanding of past material and assist with understanding the new information by making these connections. Also, periodically quiz yourself while reading. This way you stay focused and will be more likely to retain the knowledge for the exam.
  9. Use flash cards: Flash cards are an invaluable study tool that you can use to memorize information. Make flashcards for key concepts, math problems, and equations and review them several times a day. These are handy tools because you can use them while walking between classes or when you have a couple of minutes to spare.
  10. Attend every lecture: It is important to attend every single lecture because your professor will explain concepts from the textbook and go over practice problems in class. By attending class, you will have the opportunity to ask the professor questions and receive clarity on information on difficult concepts.
  11. Memorize required information: Make a list of all the information that you will be required to memorize for the exam and work on memorizing it early on. This way you will feel more prepared for the exam and will spend less time cramming the night before. This is a great way to utilize those flash cards!
  12. Review notes before and after lecture: By consistently reviewing your notes, you will be more likely to retain that information when the exam rolls around. Also, you will identify concepts that are troublesome and require you to seek clarification from another source, such as another classmate, tutor, or your professor.

Taking advantage of these resources will help you do well in the sciences. 

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