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The moans and groans are audible! "Why do I have to do homework??" Let me tell you why I assign additional work outside of a tutoring session ... It is my job to be sure that you are able to apply and integrate the materials we cover in addition to being able to absorb facts and information. Sometimes what I call 'homework' is nothing more than finding an article about the topic we are covering at the time and being ready to discuss it with me using the terms and concepts we have been going over. Sometimes it may be a question I want you to be thinking about over the next few days or week, and be able to give me an answer or argument (either for or against) a particular issue when we next meet. These assignments are not unreasonable in length or duration, and will provide both of us an indicator of how well you have absorbed the subject material.

Hello Everybody, I have been tutoring a student in a General Biology course over the last few days and I've been thinking about how our Biology Lab tests are set up. I think that very few people would argue that no test is perfect and making a test that can actually measure how much you've learned is incredibly hard; but there are a few things that I think need to change. First and foremost is that memorizing the names of individual species seems like a waste of time. I know there are a lot of professors that would disagree, but we have to remember; in "General Biology," we are teaching to "Non-Majors." Forcing them to memorize a species name will do them no good, they will only forget it a day after the test. Instead, we should use individual species that display the common characteristics of the group to which they belong. This way you can use the specimens you have, and the student may actually remember something about a general group of organisms. This... read more

Whatever subject you are studying, a good approach is to come home at the end of the day and review your notes. Anything you don't understand, formulate into a written question so you can check on it yourself or ask your teacher or tutor for help understanding. Waiting till the night before an exam will likely make you nervous. It will be hard to have enough time to prepare. Study a little each day, then, cramming can be helpful. Be sure, however, that you eat and rest well. Especially the night before a test, go to bed early. Eat a good breakfast before an exam, too. Review a bit every day, then, the night before, quickly review what you've worked on, then, get a good rest. Maybe, you will have a miracle because you have prepared yourself a little bit every day. (c) 2012 Dr JSS

Have you ever really thought what kind of visual tools you need to see an animal? God created some organisms to be super tiny. Some of these organisms we call animals because they are unicellular. Many unicellular organisms, including those in the animal kingdom, survive by utilizing nutrition from their environment around them. These animals may be small, but you do not want to get into a fight with them. Many of them cause great detriment to the human. These animals are so amazing that they can wipe out whole organisms. The great thing about studying zoology is that you get to study large organisms as well. The massive size of whales, some birds, etc. astounds me. I cannot even begin to imagine what creatures we have not even begun to discover such as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, and perhaps even Dinosaurs still alive today. I am baffled, yet excited at the prospect that there are creatures out there that we have yet to discover. What kind of impact, good or bad, do these... read more

Many students enter college with the intention of gaining acceptance to medical school. Many, however, lack adequate knowledge of the admissions process, which hampers their odds of success. In the 2007-2008 application season, for example, 42,231 individuals applied to one or more of 126 allopathic programs. Ultimately, only 18,036 of these applicants had matriculated into a medical school. That is a success rate of only 42.7%! Given the competitive nature of the application process, you'll need every advantage possible in order to maximize your own odds of acceptance. I've been through this difficult process myself, and having gained admission to UF College of Medicine, I'd like to offer my advice to future applicants. In this series of blog posts, I will explain the basics of the process and point out where individuals are most likely to fail. The medical school application process is very competitive compared to what it once was and has changed from even a decade ago. You'll... read more

Back in the last century when the molecular revolution took off, a lot of researchers decided to use banana fruit flies to study the genetics and “how-to” of development. Most people were obviously more interested in how that process is brought about in humans, but scientists had to start somewhere. Flies are easier for both ethical and practical reasons — flies are cheap to rear, have short life cycles (3 weeks or so), the eggs don’t scream because they have no nervous system (yet), and the adults are assiduous egg layers. One can get lots of eggs in a half hour timespan. Development from embryo to larva begins when an egg is sub-divided into a bunch of cells. For a fly, the first obvious signs of an embryonic form is a one cell layer lining the inner eggshell and yolk in the center. Once there are many cells, they move among each other, change shape, divide, or adhere to other cells or “decide” to stay away from others. In short, the cells talk, form allegiances, negotiate back... read more

I had the opportunity and pleasure to recently tutor a student in zoology. Not the most popular of subjects but she was at her wits end trying to find someone. The student was not doing well in the class and was desperately seeking help to do well on her final exam. That's where I stepped in. We spent a total of 8 hours over the span of a weekend reviewing zoology. We started from the very basic concepts of biology and worked our way through all of the invertebrate phyla and then to the vertebrates. It was long and exhausting for both of us. Two days later I got an email from my student telling me that she had gotten a B in the class because she aced the final. I couldn't have been more happy for her. :)

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