Jan 24, 2011

Dissecting the Frog

As members of the class Amphibia, frogs may live some of their adult lives on land, but they must return to water to reproduce. Eggs are laid and fertilised in water. On the outside of the frog’s head are two external nares, or nostrils; two tympani, or eardrums; and two eyes, each of which has three lids. The third lid, called the nictitating membrane, is transparent. Inside the mouth are two internal nares, or openings into the nostrils; two vomerine teeth in the middle of the roof of the mouth; and two maxillary teeth at the sides of the mouth. Also inside the mouth behind the tongue is the pharynx, or throat.

In the pharynx, there are several openings: one into the oesophagus, the tube into which food is swallowed; one into the glottis, through which air enters the larynx, or voice box; and two into the Eustachian tubes, which connect the pharynx to the ear. The digestive system consists of the organs of the digestive tract, or food tube, and the digestive glands. From the oesophagus, swallowed food moves into the stomach and then into the small intestine. Bile is a digestive juice made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile flows into a tube called the common bile duct, into which pancreatic juice, a digestive juice from the pancreas, also flows. The contents of the common bile duct flow into the small intestine, where most of the digestion and absorption of food into the bloodstream takes place.

Indigestible materials pass through the large intestine and then into the cloaca, the common exit chamber of the digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems. The respiratory system consists of the nostrils and the larynx, which opens into two lungs, hollow sacs with thin walls. The walls of the lungs are filled with capillaries, which are microscopic blood vessels through which materials pass into and out of the blood. The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels, and blood. The heart has two receiving chambers, or atria, and one sending chamber, or ventricle. Blood is carried to the heart in vessels called veins. Veins from different parts of the body enter the right and left atria. Blood from both atria goes into the ventricle and then is pumped into the arteries, which are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.

The urinary system consists of the frog’s kidneys, ureters, bladder, and cloaca. The kidneys are organs that excrete urine. Connected to each kidney is a ureter, a tube through which urine passes into the urinary bladder, a sac that stores urine until it passes out of the body through the cloaca. The organs of the male reproductive system are the testes, sperm ducts, and cloaca. Those of the female system are the ovaries, oviducts, uteri, and cloaca. The testes produce sperm, or male sex cells, which move through sperm ducts, tubes that carry sperm into the cloaca, from which the sperm move outside the body. The ovaries produce eggs, or female sex cells, which move through oviducts into the uteri, then through the cloaca outside the body.

The central nervous system of the frog consists of the brain, which is enclosed in the skull, and the spinal cord, which is enclosed in the backbone. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord. The frog’s skeletal and muscular systems consist of its framework of bones and joints, to which nearly all the voluntary muscles of the body are attached. Voluntary muscles, which are those over which the frog has control, occur in pairs of flexors and extensors. When a flexor of a leg or other body part contracts, that part is bent. When the extensor of that body part contracts, the part straightens.

• Describe the appearance of various organs found in the frog.
• Name the organs that make up various systems of the frog.

You will dissect a frog in order to observe the external and internal structures of frog anatomy.

• safety goggles, gloves, and a lab apron
• forceps
• preserved frog
• dissecting pins (6–10)
• dissecting tray and paper towels
• plastic storage bag and twist tie
• scissors
• marking pen
• dissecting needle

1. Put on safety goggles, gloves, and a lab apron.

2. Place a frog on a dissection tray. To determine the frog’s sex, look at the hand digits, or fingers, on its forelegs. A male frog usually has thick pads on its "thumbs," which is one external difference between the sexes, as shown in the diagram below. Male frogs are also usually smaller than female frogs. Observe several frogs to see the difference between males and females.

3. Use the diagram below to locate and identify the external features of the head. Find the mouth, external nares, tympani, eyes, and nictitating membranes.

4. Turn the frog on its back and pin down the legs. Cut the hinges of the mouth and open it wide. Use the diagram below to locate and identify the structures inside the mouth. Use a probe to help find each part: the vomerine teeth, the maxillary teeth, the internal nares, the tongue, the openings to the Eustachian tubes, the oesophagus, the pharynx, and the slit-like glottis.

5. Look for the opening to the frog’s cloaca, located between the hind legs. Use forceps to lift the skin and use scissors to cut along the center of the body from the cloaca to the lip. Turn back the skin, cut toward the side at each leg, and pin the skin flat. The diagram above shows how to make these cuts.

6. Lift and cut through the muscles and breast bone to open up the body cavity. If your frog is a female, the abdominal cavity may be filled with dark-colored eggs. If so, remove the eggs on one side so you can see the organs underlying them.

7. Use the diagram below to locate and identify the organs of the digestive system: esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, cloaca, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

8. Again refer to the diagram below to identify the parts of the circulatory and respiratory systems that are in the chest cavity. Find the left atrium, right atrium, and ventricle of the heart. Find an artery attached to the heart and another artery near the backbone. Find a vein near one of the shoulders. Find the two lungs.

9. Use a probe and scissors to lift and remove the intestines and liver. Use the diagram on the next page to identify the parts of the urinary and reproductive systems. Remove the peritoneal membrane, which is connective tissue that lies on top of the red kidneys. Observe the yellow fat bodies that are attached to the kidneys. Find the ureters; the urinary bladder; the testes and sperm ducts in the male; and the ovaries, oviducts, and uteri in the female.

10. Remove the kidneys and look for threadlike spinal nerves that extend from the spinal cord. Dissect a thigh, and trace one nerve into a leg muscle. Note the size and texture of the leg muscles.

11. Dispose of your materials according to the directions from your teacher.

12. Clean up your work area and wash your hands before leaving the lab.

Jan 22, 2011

Plant Tissues

A mature vascular plant, e.g., a tobacco plant, contains several differentiated cell types. These are grouped together in tissues. Some tissues contain only one type of cell. Some consist of several.

The main function of meristematic tissue is mitosis. The cells are small, thin-walled, with no central vacuole and no specialised features.

Meristematic tissue is located in
-the apical meristems at the growing points of roots and stems.
-the secondary meristems (lateral buds) at the nodes of stems (where branching occurs), and in some plants,
-a ring of meristematic tissue, called the cambium, that is found within the mature stem.
The cells produced in the meristems soon become differentiated into one or another of several types.

Protective tissue covers the surface of leaves and the living cells of roots and stems. Its cells are flattened with their top and bottom surfaces parallel. The upper and lower epidermis of the leaf are examples of protective tissue.

The cells of parenchyma are large, thin-walled, and usually have a large central vacuole. They are often partially separated from each other. They are usually stuffed with plastids.
In areas not exposed to light, colorless plastids predominate and food storage is the main function. The cells of the white potato are parenchyma cells.
Where light is present, e.g., in leaves, chloroplasts predominate and photosynthesis is the main function.

The walls of these cells are very thick and built up in a uniform layer around the entire margin of the cell. Often, the protoplasts die after the cell wall is fully formed. Sclerenchyma cells are usually found associated with other cells types and give them mechanical support.

Sclerenchyma is found in stems and also in leaf veins. Sclerenchyma also makes up the hard outer covering of seeds and nuts.

Collenchyma cells have thick walls that are especially thick at their corners. These cells provide mechanical support for the plant. They are most often found in areas that are growing rapidly and need to be strengthened. The petiole ("stalk") of leaves is usually reinforced with collenchyma.

Vascular Tissues
Xylem conducts water and dissolved minerals from the roots to all the other parts of the plant.

In angiosperms, most of the water travels in the xylem vessels. These are thick-walled tubes that can extend vertically through several feet of xylem tissue. Their diameter may be as large as 0.7 mm. Their walls are thickened with secondary deposits of cellulose and are usually further strengthened by impregnation with lignin. The secondary walls of the xylem vessels are deposited in spirals and rings and are usually perforated by pits.

Xylem vessels arise from individual cylindrical cells oriented end to end. At maturity the end walls of these cells dissolve away and the cytoplasmic contents die. The result is the xylem vessel, a continuous non-living duct. The vessels carry water and some dissolved solutes, such as inorganic ions, up the plant.

Xylem also contains tracheids. These are individual cells tapered at each end so the tapered end of one cell overlaps that of the adjacent cell. Like xylem vessels, they have thick, lignified walls and, at maturity, no cytoplasm. Their walls are perforated so that water can flow from one tracheid to the next. The xylem of ferns and conifers contains only tracheids.

In woody plants, the older xylem ceases to participate in water transport and simply serves to give strength to the trunk. Wood is xylem. When counting the annual rings of a tree, one is counting rings of xylem.

The main components of phloem are
-sieve elements and
-companion cells.

Sieve elements are so-named because their end walls are perforated. This allows cytoplasmic connections between vertically-stacked cells. The result is a sieve tube that conducts the products of photosynthesis - sugars and amino acids - from the place where they are manufactured (a "source"), e.g., leaves, to the places ("sinks") where they are consumed or stored; such as
-growing tips of stems and leaves
-fruits, tubers, corms, etc.

Sieve elements have no nucleus and only a sparse collection of other organelles. They depend on the adjacent companion cells for many functions.

Companion cells move sugars and amino acids into and out of the sieve elements. In "source" tissue, such as a leaf, the companion cells use transmembrane proteins to take up - by active transport - sugars and amino acids from the cells manufacturing them. Water follows by osmosis. These materials then move into adjacent sieve elements by diffusion through plasmodesmata. The pressure created by osmosis drives the flow of materials through the sieve tubes.

In "sink" tissue, the sugars and amino acids leave the sieve tubes by diffusion through plasmodesmata connecting the sieve elements to the cells of their destination. Again, water follows by osmosis where it may
-leave the plant by transpiration or
-increase the volume of the cells or
-move into the xylem for recycling through the plant.

Animal and Plant Cells

Jan 16, 2011

Fluid Exchange

Capillaries are composed of a single layer of squamos epithelium surrounded by a thin basement membrane. Most capillaries (except those servicing the nervous system) have pores (spaces) between the individual cells that make up the capillary wall. Plasma fluid and small nutrient molecules leave the capillary and enter the interstitial fluid through these pores, in a process called bulk flow. Bulk flow facilitates the efficient transfer of nutrient out of the blood and into the tissues. However, blood cells and plasma proteins, which are too large to fit through the pores, do not filter out of the capillaries by bulk flow.

Together, blood plasma and interstitial fluid make up the extracellular fluid (ECF). Plasma constitutes 20%, while interstitial fluid constitutes 80% of the ECF. The distribution of extracellular fluid between these two compartments is determined by the balance between two opposing forces: hydrostatic pressure and osmotic pressure.

The beating of the heart generates hydrostatic pressure, which, in turn, causes bulk flow of fluid from plasma to interstitial fluid through walls of the capillaries. In other words, the pressure in the system forces plasma to filter out into the interstitial compartment. The composition of the interstitial fluid and the plasma is essentially the same except that plasma also contains plasma proteins not found in the interstitial fluid. Because of the presence of plasma proteins, the plasma has a higher solute concentration than does the interstitial fluid. Consequently, osmotic pressure causes interstitial fluid to be absorbed into the plasma compartment. In other words, the plasma proteins drive the reabsorption of water back into the capillaries via osmosis.
The magnitudes of filtration and absorption are not equal. The net filtration of fluid out of the capillaries into the interstitial compartment is greater than the net absorption of fluid back into the capillaries. The excess filtered fluid is returned to the blood stream via the lymphatic system. In addition to its roles in digestion and immunity, the lymphatic system functions to return filtered plasma back to the circulatory system. The smallest vessels of the lymphatic system are the lymphatic capillaries (shown in yellow). These porous, blind-ended ducts form a large network of vessels that infiltrate the capillary beds of most organs. Excess interstitial fluid enters the lymphatic capillaries to become lymph fluid.

Lymphatic capillaries converge to form lymph vessels that ultimately return lymph fluid back to the circulatory system via the subclavian vein. The presence of one-way valves in the lymph vessels ensures unidirectional flow of lymph fluid toward the subclavian vein.

If excess fluid cannot be returned to the blood stream then interstitial fluid builds up, leading to swelling of the tissues with fluid, this is called oedema.

Causes of Oedema
1. Reduced concentration of plasma proteins. When the concentration of plasma proteins drops, the osmotic potential of plasma drops, thus less interstitial fluid is absorbed into the capillaries. The rate of filtration, however, remain unchanged. Therefore, the ratio of filtration to absorption increases, leading to a build up of interstitial fluid. Any condition that would lead to a reduction in plasma proteins could potentially cause edema. Examples of conditions that reduce plasma proteins include:

a) Kidney disease can result in the loss of plasma proteins in the urine.
b) Liver disease can decrease the synthesis of plasma proteins.
c) A protein-deficient diet will decrease plasma proteins.
d) Severe burns result in a loss of plasma proteins (albumin) at the burn site

2. Increased capillary permeability. During an inflammatory response, tissue damage leads to the release of histamine from immune cells. Histamine causes an increase in the size of capillary pores. As capillaries become more permeable, the rate of filtration increases.

3. Increase in venous pressure. If venous pressure is increased then blood dams up in the upstream capillary bed, resulting in excess filtration. Examples of this condition include:

a) Left heart failure. The left half of the heart drains blood from the lungs. When the left ventricle fails to adequately pump blood, venous pressure in the lungs increases. This increases in hydrostatic pressure causes an increase in the rate of filtration of fluid out of the capillaries and into the interstitial compartment. As a result, the lungs fill with fluid, a condition called, pulmonary oedema.

b) Standing still. If one stands still for long period of time, then blood will pool in the veins of the legs. This will increase venous pressure and lead to weeping of fluid into the tissues. You can actually feel your feet swell if you stand motionless for a long time.

4. Blocked Lymphatic Vessels. If lymph vessels become blocked, then lymph fluid will not be drained from the affected area and the area will swell. Any condition that causes blockage or removal of lymph vessels can lead to oedema. Examples of this condition include:

a) Filaria round worms are transmitted to humans by some species of mosquitoes. The worms migrate to the lymph vessels and block them. This causes dramatic swelling of the affected area, a condition called elephantiasis.

b) Treatment for breast cancer may include removal of lymph vessels from breast and arms. This is done to limit the metastasis (spread) of cancerous cells to other parts of the body through the lymph. Removal of lymph vessels results in swelling of the affected area.

Heart Attack

Heart With Muscle Damage and a Blocked Artery

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked. If the flow of blood isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.
Fortunately, today there are excellent treatments for heart attack that can save lives and prevent disabilities. Treatment is most effective when started within 1 hour of the beginning of symptoms.

Heart attacks occur most often as a result of a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD). In CAD, a fatty material called plaque builds up over many years on the inside walls of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to your heart). Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the part of the heart muscle fed by the artery.

Figure A is an overview of a heart and coronary artery showing damage (dead heart muscle) caused by a heart attack. Figure B is a cross-section of the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.

During a heart attack, if the blockage in the coronary artery isn’t treated quickly, the heart muscle will begin to die and be replaced by scar tissue. This heart damage may not be obvious, or it may cause severe or long-lasting problems.

Severe problems linked to heart attack can include heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood throughout the body. Ventricular fibrillation is a serious arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated quickly.

Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save your life and limit damage to your heart. Treatment is most effective when started within 1 hour of the beginning of symptoms.

The most common heart attack signs and symptoms are:
  • Chest discomfort or pain—uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong. This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
  • Other signs include nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Jan 6, 2011

Susah ka nak score Bio nie??

1. Slow down !!
The flow of a biology book is not like the flow of a novel. A novel can be read effortlessly, smoothly and rapidly, but biology books cannot. If you are reading a novel and are somewhat distracted, you can still get the idea of what it is about. When you are not concentrating on biology you will get very little out of it, and it will seem more difficult than it really is.

2. Every word counts.
Biology books are usually not repetitive, so there is little chance of picking something up from reading on. Writers of biology texts believe that extra words and repeats get in the way of clarity.

3. It is best to tackle each chapter at least three times.
The first time you should skim the chapter, noting topic sentences, words in bold print, all tables, diagrams and summary charts. This is best read before the class. The second reading should be in more detail, studying each area and not proceeding until each section is understood. Reread each section as many times as necessary until you understand its meaning. Mastery can take minutes or hours or days. The last major reading is for writing down terms and definitions and important concepts (see #5 below).

4. Talk to yourself as you read.
Explain what you have read aloud and make up your own examples to better understand what you have read. Rereading the material aloud, especially in your own words helps clarify the information. Hearing yourself makes a lot of difference.

 5. Words and symbols of biology have specific meanings.
Each time you come to a new term or concept, cover up the text and see if you can express the idea aloud in your own words. Write down all the words you do not know. Emphasise words in bold type. Whenever possible write out the definitions in your own words. Strive for understanding the definitions so that you can easily state them in your own words; you are more likely to remember them that way. By saying it out loud and writing it, you are more like to recall it later, when needed.

6. Study all diagrams and charts.
They condense a lot of valuable information. Cover up and see if you can visualise them.

7. Write as you read.
  • During your first reading write nothing in the text.
  • Do not highlight ¬ it slows down reading and it is often used as an excuse for not concentrating.
  • In a later reading, call attention to important words or phrases by underlining them (do not overdo this).
  • Complete sentences or paragraphs should be bracketed and not underlined.
  • Write summarising statements to yourself in the margin.
  • Make notes to yourself right in the text.
  • Note questions that you need to have clarified.
 8. Record all key points on a separate sheet.

9. If there are study questions at the end of the chapters, be sure you can answer them. They are good practice for the exam.

10. Make flash cards with terminology and concepts.

11. Keep testing yourself on a separate sheet of paper.

12. Without looking back, write out and say aloud the important points.

13. Create tasks for yourself as you read the text.

14. After reading an example and working it out for yourself, try to think of other examples that would fit the idea being discussed.

15. Use more than one book on the topic you are studying whenever possible.

16. Pick books that appeal to you.
If you are very verbal, a book with long explanations is likely to be most helpful. If you are more visual, you might choose a book that has more illustrations.
17. Read the chapter before, and again after, class.
You will get the most out of class if you have read the material before the teacher presents it. Even if you feel that you understood the material in class, read it over again in the text. The more you review it the more likely you are to recall it.

 18. If possible, have a friend or family member quiz you on your notes and text information.
Done regularly, this commits more information to long-term memory.

Good luck guys...


In insects, other arthropods, and most molluscs, blood bathes the organs directly in an open circulatory system. There is no distinction between blood and interstitial fluid, and this general body fluid is more correctly termed haemolymph. One or more hearts pump the haemolymph into an interconnected system of sinuses, which are spaces surrounding the organs. Here, chemical exchange occurs between the haemolymph and body cells. In insects and other arthropods, the heart is an elongated tube located dorsally. When the heart contracts, it pumps haemolymph through vessels out into sinuses. When the heart relaxes, it draws haemolymph into the circulatory system through pores called ostia. Body movements that squeeze the sinuses help circulate the haemolymph.

The mammalian cardiovascular system : Note that the dual circuits operate simultaneously, not in the serial fashion that the numbering in the diagram suggests. The two ventricles pump almost in unison; while some blood is traveling in the pulmonary circuit, the rest of the blood is flowing in the systemic circuit.

Located beneath the breastbone (sternum), the human heart is about the size of a clenched fist and consists mostly of cardiac muscle. The two atria have relatively thin walls and serve as collection chambers for blood returning to the heart, most of which flows into the ventricles as they relax. Contraction of the atria completes filling of the ventricles. The ventricles have thicker walls and contract much more strongly than the atria—especially the left ventricle, which must pump blood to all body organs through the systemic circuit.

The cardiac cycle. For an adult human at rest with a pulse of about 75 beats per minute, one complete cardiac cycle takes about 0.8 second.
1 During a relaxation phase (atria and ventricles in diastole), blood returning from the large veins flows into the atria and ventricles.
2 A brief period of atrial systole then forces all remaining blood out of the atria into the ventricles.
3 During the remainder of the cycle, ventricular systole pumps blood into the large arteries.
Note that seven–eighths of the time—all but 0.1 second of the cardiac cycle—the atria are relaxed and are filling with blood returning via the veins.

A region of the heart called the sinoatrial (SA) node, or pacemaker, sets the rate and timing at which all cardiac muscle cells contract. Composed of specialised muscle tissue, the SA node is located in the wall of the right atrium, near the point where the superior vena cava enters the heart. Because the pacemaker of the human heart (and of other vertebrates) is made up of specialised muscle tissues and located within the heart itself, the vertebrate heart is referred to as a myogenic heart.

The SA node generates electrical impulses much like those produced by nerve cells. Because cardiac muscle cells are electrically coupled (by the intercalated disks between adjacent cells), impulses from the SA node spread rapidly through the walls of the atria, causing both atria to contract in unison.

The impulses also pass to another region of specialised cardiac muscle tissue, a relay point called the atrioventricular (AV) node, located in the wall between the right atrium and right ventricle. Here the impulses are delayed for about 0.1 second before spreading to the walls of the ventricles. The delay ensures that the atria empty completely before the ventricles contract. Specialised muscle fibres called bundle branches/his and Purkinje fibres then conduct the signals to the apex of the heart and throughout the ventricular walls.
The impulses that travel through cardiac muscle during the heart cycle produce electrical currents that are conducted through body fluids to the skin, where the currents can be detected by electrodes and recorded as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).

TSA/V Ratio

Geometric relationships between surface area and volume. In this diagram, cells are represented as boxes. Using arbitrary units of length, we can calculate the cell’s surface area (in square units), volume (in cubic units), and ratio of surface area to volume. The smaller the cell, the higher the surface–to–volume ratio. A high surface–to–volume ratio facilitates the exchange of materials between a cell and its environment.

Jan 4, 2011

Tips on note taking

Note Taking

There are basically two types of note taking that a student will be faced with:
1. Making notes in class
2. Making notes as a result of private study and reading

There are many ways of writing notes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is best to try them all to see which method works for you. Certain subjects or topics may lend themselves to one particular method. The most important point is that they are useful later when you wish to re-use them.

Why make notes?
Notes make you concentrate on what you are learning
Notes make you put ideas into your own words and so aid understanding
Notes help you remember things better
Notes are excellent for revision
Taking notes in class - how to improve your technique

Thankfully, fewer and fewer educators dictate notes these days, realising that dictation goes from ears to hand without stopping in the brain in between! However, many adopt a lecture style where students are required to take notes. In such a situation the following may be helpful:

Don't try to write down everything the educator says
Concentrate on picking out the relevant points only
Write notes in point form with separate sub headings
Develop your own shorthand (see examples below)
Leave plenty of space between your notes for later additions
Jot down any references given in class to read later
Number any handouts issued with a corresponding number in the relevant place in your notes
Underline key phrases in red, or with a highlighter pen
It is always advisable to date and number each sheet of A4 as you use it
Before your next lesson expand on your class notes from text books, etc. using the tips given below
Finally, always ask the teacher for a further explanation if there is something you do not understand - you can be sure there is someone else in the class who has difficulties too!

Taking notes from written sources - how to improve your technique

Using the SQ3R technique outlined in the Reading section you will have read and absorbed information. The next stage is to make a written record in note form using the appropriate method for you. Below are 5 possible methods you may wish to try:

Making notes on books or handouts
Key phrases can be underlined
Comments can be added in the margin

Can only be used if you own the book!
You haven't summarised points in your own words to reinforce understanding
It is very difficult to revise from these notes later; you will probably have to re-read the whole book/article
In summary, quick in the short term only.

Making summary notes or a precis
This involves reading all the information, working on each paragraph in turn, re-writing in your own words. A brief introductory and concluding paragraph is advisable.

Detailed notes obtained
Helps to develop your written style

Time consuming
Continuous prose is difficult to revise from
The salient points do not stand out easily

In summary, a useful exercise but not 'user friendly' in the future.

This involves quickly jotting down all your ideas on a subject and linking them up.

Very quick
Good practice for essay plans in the examination
Makes you think analytically

May not be suitable for more complex notes
Could be difficult to revise from later

In summary, very useful in organising thought processes, especially in the exam room but has limitations for general use.

Example: A spray about the effects of a strong £

Practice this technique by making a spray about regional unemployment problems
Visual and pattern notes
This method involves using flow diagrams or 'concept trees' (another name for pattern notes) to record information.

Can sum up many pages of written notes
You concentrate on the fundamentals
Very active form of learning
Visual images are a great aid to recall
Add a 'fun' element to note taking

Could be too absorbing!
May be difficult to express more complex ideas clearly

In summary, a valuable supplement to 'linear notes'.

Linear Notes
This method involves reorganising information in a written format using your own shorthand and personal style.

Makes you think analytically
Aids your understanding
Simple to revise from and use later

Initially quite time consuming
Doesn't aid visual memory like pattern notes

In summary, initially takes some thought and time but probably most useful method for expressing complex ideas clearly.

Some tips!
Use titles, subtitles and bullet points
Avoid lengthy prose
Underline key points in red or with a highlighter
Produce a summary list/table at the end of a section
Don't be afraid to produce tables e.g. Advantages & Disadvantages of...
Include topical examples and case study references in your notes as you go along but remember you would only have time to write a paragraph in an examination answer so this is how long it should be!
Write memory jogs to yourself in the margin e.g. 'Good diagram p 146 in Book X'
Develop your own shorthand

Jan 2, 2011

Wanna be a good student?

Have you ever wondered why some students get all the A's? It's not luck. Good students have consistent, productive behaviours that work. If you would like to know what they are, read on.

Come to class on time. Students who walk in late are not only disrupting the teacher, they may be missing valuable information or the best seat in the classroom. Arriving a few minutes early is a lot different than arriving a few minutes late.

Sit in the front row. Not only will you be able to see and hear the teacher better, you will also be far away from mooching students who tend to sit in the back.

Be sure that you know the syllabus and then study it carefully. If your teacher goes through it during class, be sure to write down any additional information he or she may provide. Put your syllabus in a safe place and DO NOT LOSE IT.

Learn your teacher's name and what he or she likes to be called. "Mr." "Ms." "Puan" "Cikgu" may be appropriate. Unless your teacher requests otherwise, use his or her last name to convey the proper respect.

Come to class ready to learn. Be sure that you have gone to the bathroom, got something to eat, and have all your necessary books, pens, and paper. You should not be getting up and leaving in the middle of class on a regular basis. Save those types of behaviours for an emergency.

Be prepared by taking good notes. What if you never taken notes before and you're not sure how? The only answer is to practice. Some guidance classes will teach you how to write notes if you need help, but mostly, learning how to listen for and write down important information comes from the experience of actually doing it. You should be taking notes every time your teacher teaches and then storing them in a safe place. Refer to your notes just after leaving class; this way your mind will still be fresh.

Get the phone numbers of at least two other class members. That way, if you miss a class, you can call to find out what you missed. Remember, it is your responsibility to know the information that your teacher presents and that is covered in the book. Don't expect a teacher to regive a lecture that they already gave in class. If you haven't spoken to anyone in the class, simply approach them and ask, "Would you like to exchange phone numbers? I always like to have someone's number in case I miss anything." Most students are happy to have a buddy they can rely on. Its a win-win situation.

Start working on an assignment as soon as possible. Time goes by faster than you expect it to, and we can't always foresee incidents that will get in the way of our homework. Also, if you plan to get an A on your assignment, you will probably need to spend hours working on it. A lot of people aren't willing to do the work required to get an A. Others are. If you have any questions about how to do the assignment or when to turn it in, consult your syllabus and then your teacher.

Turn in all assignments/homework! (extra credit is only optional if you are earning a good grade.) This would seem like a no-brainer, but many students fail to do this. Also, be very familiar with assignment make-up policies. If you have a special situation, talk to your teacher.

If you are assigned to do group work, whether its discussion or turning in a presentation, be a good group member. That means that in a group, you are working just as hard as if you were on your own. Bring your ideas and your feedback to the table. Be serious about the assignment. Taking the attitude of, "I'm so bad at this stuff; you guys can handle it. Your ideas are way better than mine," is not being modest; it's being lazy. In the case of discussion, you are depriving your classmates of the feedback they should have received from you. And in the case of an assignment, you are making your group members do all the work! Don't cop out. In contrast, dominating a group and not allowing everyone to contribute ideas is just as bad. Even if you don't like someone else's ideas, you may need to compromise and go along with it, because group work is supposed to be a group effort.

Learn from your mistakes. That means if your teacher writes, "Use better grammar" than you should study grammar. If your teacher says, "Excellent! But I feel your conclusion is a little weak" than study how to write a conclusion. If you completely bomb a test, that should be a wake-up call to you. If you procrastinate so long that you are not ready with your project, and it turns into a humiliating experience, you need to ask yourself, "What went wrong? Why did I fail, and how could I do it better next time?" Go to your teacher and ask for feedback if you need more clarification.

Have a good attitude. People who show up to a class and complain all the time, writing sms behind the teacher's back, are really only displaying their immaturity. Leave your personal problems at home, show up with a smile, and try to imagine why you might need to know this information, if it doesn't seem obvious.

  • When studying, think about your personal learning style and what helps you to remember things. Is it writing notes? Drawing a picture? Teaching it to someone else?
  • Remember, you are not given a grade, you earn it! Instead of arguing with your teacher about why you should have got an A, ask how you could have done better.