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How to Survive Esteves' Honors Biology

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

As you approach the end of eighth grade, and start to consider challenging yourself in areas you are successful in, it may be time to start thinking about approaching honors classes for the first year of high school. Before you know it, it's the first week of October, and you're studying biochemistry with an exam coming up that you have no idea how to prepare for. Honors biology is a very rigorous course, and as a high school student taking an honors course for the first time, it can be quite difficult and frustrating, but there are many strategies to prepare for this class and to excel in this class. The following 10 tips will be sure to help you to succeed!

  1. Be prepared - This can be as small as bringing a charged iPad to class or going as far as reviewing the slides and reading the agendas before class even begins. Former students of this class found coming to class with questions and slides pre-read really helpful.

  2. Be interested in biology - Biology is a subject that you should be interested in pursuing as an honors student. In order to have a good experience in this class, your hard work in this course should benefit you in some way. For example, you might be taking this course because you enjoy learning about biology or want to work in the medical area in the future.

  3. Complete your homework - Even though it may not count as much as an exam or quiz. Mr. Esteves will not assign you homework that he does not believe would benefit you. Any homework assigned before a test or quiz serves as a preview of what will be on your exam, therefore it is a good idea to complete it.

  4. After school help - If you have a question, ask it since you never know if someone else has the same question. Asking questions shows you're eager to learn. Clarifying hard-to-grasp concepts before test day is especially important! Going to after-school help will provide you one-on-one time with your teacher, the person who actually makes your test! If you ask questions, going to after-school can be really helpful. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:20-3:50, freshman biology enrichment is held in room F317. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at roughly 4:00 p.m., late buses are provided. On the Falcon Flight Plan Schoology group, you'll find more information on late buses and freshman enrichment!

  5. Keynotes - Keynotes are more than just quiz grades; they are also excellent study resources. You are actively learning when you explain all of the things you studied in each class. Looking back at slides and notes to write descriptions is active studying. You need to grasp each lesson in order to write even one sentence about it. They're quite beneficial when preparing to write open-ended questions on your tests!

  6. Projects - Having projects that weigh as much as tests is a great way to increase your score, but it can also substantially damage your grade. Asking Mr. Esteves to review your group's projects a few days before the deadline will give you lots of personalized advice and increase your chances of improving your grades. You are honors students, therefore your rubric is the bare minimum of what you can accomplish to receive a decent score; think outside the box and be innovative. There is nothing wrong with going above and beyond as part of being an honors student is going above and beyond. Refer to the rubric for requirements, but be creative too!

  7. Create your own exams - Making your own practice tests and open-ended questions is an excellent method to study. Go through class slides and jot down any questions you think might mimic questions on the exam. When Mr. Esteves presents an example of a question that could be on your test, write it down since you will most likely get a similar question on your exam.

  8. Find study habits that work for you - Pretending to be a teacher is a great method to study. Review your notes or slides as if you were teaching a class on each topic. Explaining the subjects aloud demonstrates that you have comprehended the lecture. Learn the way which fits your style best whether this includes visuals or online videos.

  9. Find a study group - If you can find a group of people in your class that have a similar motivation level as you. It can be quite beneficial to test each other and create study guides together. Another strategy is to find someone who is struggling and might need help understanding the material. You can explain the topics to this person, which will help you learn the lesson better and you will be helping your classmate as well.

  10. Have fun - Honors biology is such a fun course, and you should enjoy it, especially since you have Mr. Esteves. Your understanding of these topics are as important as your grades, one letter on your report card does not define your worth!

Here are some more tips from former students:

Audrey Lynch - Freshman at Northeastern University

  • Read ahead!! Once Mr. E posts the powerpoint you guys will cover, read the textbook and try to fill in the slides as you go! Don’t worry about understanding a lot your first read through just becoming familiar with the terminology of the chapter will make the lecture in class seem less scary!!

  • Become SUPER comfortable knowing that you are in class to learn- and therefore that IT’S OKAY to not know/ understand something!! You HAVE to speak up and ask questions or else you will leave yourself confused.

  • Attend after school bio help!! As stated above, you MUST become comfortable asking questions. Attend after school bio help if you have even quick questions, and especially if you would like to walk through a larger concept more slowly. Make sure you know exactly what you are confused on/exactly what your questions are- don’t come into the session and ask the teacher to explain half of a unit to you.

  • LEARN HOW YOU STUDY. I personally found making outlines of the chapters extremely helpful. To make an outline, I would have the textbook and lined paper open side by side. As I read through the textbook, I would write down its information in words I could understand. I would highlight important vocabulary and include lots of diagrams in my outlines!!

    • DO NOT leave a whole chapter to outline the day before the test. Creating a really good outline takes HOURS. Outline a few sections of the chapter each week as you go over them in class.

    • If outlines don’t work for you, find what does! No matter how you study, you should be going through ALL the content THOROUGHLY

  • Start studying EARLY. You can not cram a whole chapter’s worth of information into your brain in one night. A few days before a test, make sure your outline is completed. -Start reviewing it and connecting concepts between sections. As you internalize the information in your outline, go through your class notes to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

  • While reviewing your outline and class notes, recognize concepts that you could be asked to explain in an open ended question. Try to predict the chapter’s open ended questions a few days before the test comes around!! Remember that the open ended questions will assess your knowledge on BIG UNIFYING concepts of a chapter. If you pay attention in class you should be able to recognize what concepts Mr. E spends the most time on. -These concepts will most likely be tested in open ended questions- an open ended won’t ask about the minor details you spent 30 seconds going over in class.

  • After predicting what the open ended questions are, write responses to them! Ask Mr. E for feedback a few days before the test (I did this a lot and he is happy to look over your answers). Once you finalize them, practice writing them! Time yourself writing them a few times so that by the time the test comes, even if the open ended questions aren’t exactly what you guessed, you will be comfortable explaining concepts quickly in writing.

  • If you end up hating bio by the end of the year, that’s okay! I really think that this class teaches you so much more than biology if you let it. Allow the class to teach you how to study, how to manage stress, and other important life skills!

Sahil Gandhi - Sophomore at MTHS:

  • When asking questions, ask the teacher if your own explanation is right (it helps because you know where you can improve and it demonstrates higher level thinking)

  • Make outlines and constantly update them with new info

  • Go to extra help

  • Preview the day’s content before class as in the day before (it’s annoying at first but sooo sooo sooo beneficial because you already have a foundation on the topics and can clarify confusion)

  • Never be scared to speak up and tell your teacher about any trouble or concerns you may have, a teacher’s job is to help students improve and feel good every day

  • Make study groups or friends in the class who you can share study resources with

Anna Yannacci Sophomore at MTHS:

  • Make outlines even if they aren't being graded

  • Teach yourself the material before it's taught in-class

  • Stare at diagrams and try to pretend you understand them. You can trick yourself into actually understanding them this way. Try to explain them to yourself as though you already get the concept... It's weird but it worked for me.

  • Go to extra help

  • Be actually interested in the topic you're learning about, and try thinking about it in your everyday life... like "wow an electron in this plant leaf is going through Photosystem II wow!!!"

Parthivi Chauhan - Sophomore at MTHS:

  • Don’t procrastinate obviously!

  • Attend the biology extra help even if Esteves isn’t the one teaching it that day; it may be beneficial to hear another teacher explain the concepts since their method may make more sense to you

  • The outlines are amazing study resources, and i suggest making them even when they’re not required; treat them as a living document that you’re repeatedly adding new information to

  • This course is not just about memorizing facts and regurgitating them on ur assessments, you need to be able to apply them to scientific situations

  • Teaching a fellow student is a great way to study, it really helps solidify your own understanding of the material and you’re also helping a friend study as well!

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