Biology and History are totally unrelated, right? Wrong! Biology and History classes are actually more similar than you might think, and the similarities lie in how they are learned. Both subjects require you to not only memorize massive amounts of material, but also to comprehend the material and make important connections.

The following are some of our tried-and-true tips for succeeding in Biology and History classes.

1) Cramming won’t cut it

Cramming for tests isn’t effective and will not get you a good grade. Because these subjects require you to understand processes and sequences of events, in addition to memorizing many facts, it’s going to be nearly impossible to do it all in a single night or two. Spacing out your studying over a week or two is crucial to helping your mind process all the material.

2) The Cornell Note Taking Method

Note taking during class ensures you’re engaged in class and actively listening to your teacher. It also makes reviewing for tests and exams much easier. Specifically, the Cornell Note Taking Method can help you optimize your success in your biology and history classes.

Here’s how it works:

Start by splitting your paper up by drawing a vertical line about 1/3 away from the left side of your paper and a horizontal line about two inches from the bottom of your paper.

The right-hand column: This column is where you’ll take all your notes during class. It’s important to pay attention to what your teacher is saying and what topics or ideas they emphasize.

The left-hand column: This column is what we call the cue-or-clue section. After class, you write down anticipated test questions based off of your notes in this section. Questions should focus on big ideas and vocabulary. Once you have formulated questions, you can cover up the note taking section and try answering the questions aloud.

The bottom section: Once you feel like you can sufficiently answer the questions without looking at your notes, you can use the bottom section to write summaries of the main ideas and connect what you’ve learned to bigger themes of the chapter or class.

Once you’ve completed this process, you’ll have taken an enormous step towards better memorizing, understanding, and communication of the material.

3) Tutor or Academic Coach

If you continue to struggle with the material in these classes, it might be a good idea to get help from a tutor or academic coach. Experts in these subjects can help you figure out what is noteworthy in the first place and what you should focus your energy on learning. In addition, they may be able to communicate the knowledge in a way that is more comprehensible than a textbook or your teacher. Check out this blog, which explains the benefits of working with a tutor, especially in honors or advanced classes.