3 Tips to Help You Succeed In General Biology at Rutgers

Last Updated on September 29, 2023

Students who take Biology at Rutgers will find that while the course takes you on an incredible journey through the origin of life, it does not fail to overwhelm you with a ludicrous amount of information along the way. I personally found the course to be made unnecessarily difficult because the Biology department liked to make the exams “at least 50% upper-level questions!” Oh and don’t forget that each of the exams is cumulative so you have to remember all of the material from every lecture!

Due to the nature of the course, you really have to hit the ground running. To help you prepare for the class, I’ve put together a list of 3 tips to help you succeed in General Biology.

1. Be Prepared for Weird Words

Seriously though, the terminology in Gen Bio is very strange. After completing both Bio 1 and Bio 2 at Rutgers, I am now familiar with so many words I never even knew existed… Words like sarcomere, kwashiorkor, stramenopile, and rhizarian (just to name a few). These words are all considered to be basic terminology that you will be expected to fully understand.

Do your best to accept the words for what they are and move on. I came up with simple strategies like, “if it sounds like the name of an alien, it’s probably a protist.” Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar vocabulary you will be introduced to.

This is not just a fly… this is *Drosophila melanogaster!*

2. Make Tables & Organizers

The biology textbook is your friend. Use the material within the textbook to construct your own tables and organizers. This is something that will be emphasized in your bio workshop. While it might be tempting to dismiss the constant suggestion to “make this a table!” and “make that a flowchart!” I’m writing this now to tell you that building them honestly and truly does help.

I’ve posted a few examples here to show you how I organized some of the material.

While I’m on the topic of tables and organizers, please make sure you READ. THE. BOOK. The diagrams in there will make everything make so much more sense. Coming out of high school, it might seem unnatural for you to actually have to “read” a textbook but for college-level biology, you really should!

3. Summarize Your Notes

I would leave every biology lecture with anywhere from 15-20 pages of notes. While the lecture notes were great for biology workshop, they were a little overwhelming to study from. To simplify the material further, I’d summarize and take notes on my notes. This helped me chunk material and sort it into more manageable pieces.

Good luck in Biology

Some self-motivation for the final

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section below! I hope this helps.


  1. Meredith

    Hi…I recieved AP credit for Biology and I’m not sure I want to used the credit or not because the second semester syllabus looks like information we didn’t really cover in my high school course and I’m a biotech major. Is the class a lot of work? And would it be ridiculous to take the class if I got AP credit?

    1. Yes, it is a lot of work. I would say don’t do it to yourself. However, if you don’t really feel like you learned the content, it could be worth taking it again in college just to build your foundation. I’m leaning more towards advising you to just move on.

    1. Hi Riley! Are you taking Biology at Rutgers right now? Have no fear, if you just try your best to draw, it should hopefully have a similar effect as long as you try to retain the visual memory of it. Alternatively, you can simply print the graphics and drag a pen over them while you study (to make studying more interactive) than it would be if you were simply reading black and white text.

        1. The notes look acceptable but different from the ones I took when I took the course almost 2 years ago. I would recommend attending Dr. Keating’s lectures and taking down her notes. They are organized and well thought out. Very easy to follow and study from.

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