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Genecks

How do I study for a practical final exam?

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How should I go about studying for a practical exam at the undergraduate level?

 

I've tried talking to my TAs, and they have not given me much information. I find that awfully surprising, really. As I'm not sure if I should be focusing on labbook problems or if I will actually be replicating experiments we've already done in lab. The TAs just won't tell me. I've even asked them if they had to take practical exams in the past, and they wouldn't give me much information even then. So, I'm thinking, "WTF, man?"

 

I have two practical exams:

1. Genetics practical exam

2. Microbiology practical exam

 

I have practical exams to take at the end of the semester. I'm not familiar with how to study for a practical exam. As far as I assume, I need to be able to replicate things in lab or identify them. I'm not sure if that's the ordeal. I do know that if someone asked me to make yeast plates, transform bacteria, etc... in one sitting, then I don't think I'd be able to get done right away... Not enough time in the class for one person to do that.

 

About the only practical exam I've ever taken in my life was an anatomy and physiology exam, during which I looked at cadavers, histological slides, and gave replies to lab book questions.

 

Ideas? Suggestions?

Edited by Genecks

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Shouldn't the exams connected to a given course?

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Shouldn't the exams connected to a given course?

 

I'm not sure what you're asking, but...

 

I'm guessing they are "connected," but I don't have the slightest clue what kind of things would be requested of me to do on practical exam day.

 

I am taking two different classes.

 

BIOS-220: Genetics lab

BIOS-351: Microbiology lab

 

I have a practical exam in each class at the end of this summer semester.

 

In both classes, I've asked about what practical exams are like at the university level. Furthermore, I asked for help in those different classes as to how a person should study for the practical exam. I didn't really get much information, and the TAs were hesitant to offer any help. They were even reluctant to discuss their past experiences. That's really annoying, as I don't see why they couldn't discuss their past experiences.

Edited by Genecks

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There are quite a number of possibilities, however the basic is that you should know what was discussed and taught in the respective courses and that you understood the principles. Most of the time it is revolving around a practical problem and you are supposed to solve it with the techniques learned during your course.

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Ok, thanks.

 

I'm a little worried that I'd have to remember the exact proportions of solutions in certain media and how to reconduct experiments upon command. I really can't recall the measurements off hand.

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In most cases one does not expect the precise amounts, unless for some reasons there was a big emphasis on it during the course. It is much more important to understand e.g. which components to use and why.

You should have a broad understanding of the conducted experiments and what they are used for.

Edited by CharonY

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Thanks, CharonY. What you said helped.

 

In the time that has passed, it would seem that this particular thread went from the first link on Google's search engine to about fifth. As such, I think I have a good idea how to study for a practical.

 

Some time has passed, and I got As in both of my lab classes.

 

The genetics lab wasn't so difficult until I forgot the phenotype ratio for a heterogenous dihybrid. Something like that.

 

I couldn't remember if it was 9:3:3:1 or 3:1. Meh, I seemed to have done quite well.

 

I think I put down 9:3:3:1. I believe that's wrong... I didn't have enough time to bust out a punnet square, so it was expected that I had something like that memorized. I did at one point, but that was during the class I took in the spring. I forgot that tidbit of info over the few months I was in summer.... It bothers me....

 

I think one of the most important things is to constantly review the experiments, the media used, what the media looks like, and any other equipment used in the experiment. Know their purpose in the experiment. On a deeper level, it may later become required to know the chemical processes that are undergone. So, study things from general to specific. It's as if you have to constantly know the details to the purpose of the experiment, methods and materials used, expected results, and the results obtained. Not simply in a theoretical, arabic word sense.. Know what things look like, what color they are, be able to identify them by color and color change (be able to identify and recall what the physical details look like). And that format of studying and reviewing somewhat relates to how a scientific paper is written.

 

However, in contrast, I remember looking at cards of squashed sordaria and determining the map units and number of varying offspring with types of crossovers. That too was a "type" of experiment, albeit a pathetic almost non-scientific experiment. It was more like some kind of baconian observation, but yet it used math. I don't quite know where the scientific method fit into that "experiment." Still, come the practical, I had to know how to do the math involved with looking at a similar sordaria image. That was easy.

 

I would definitely have to say that my microbiology exam differed from my genetics exam. The microbiology practical really focused on the media and some simple supplies. Being able to look at a certain media plates and describe what kind of media they were was important. For instance, there was one plate that was like a Shigella-Salmonella plate that looked like another plate we used throughout the semester. I had to know what plate was on the table in front of me, and to have been able to do that, I would have needed to memorize and recall what kind of plates we used throughout the semester, what kind of growth they enable, what the growths look like on the plates, and be able to discern the properties of one plate from others. The other stuff was silly, such as knowing which wipes were used for slides or the microscope. Other stuff, such as knowing which alcohols were used on slides. There was a "station" that asked me which tools (stabbing needle, loop, or stick) were used for which kind of media. I couldn't remember if KIA (.pdf) could have a loop used on it and/or a needle.

 

So, in general, the best thing to have done for that practical was constantly review all the experiments and documents that were not necessarily experiment related over-and-over until I had recorded and recoded the information and could recall it. But more importantly, I should have been doing that since the first experiment rather than maybe a few weeks before finals. So, I definitely have some bad review skills going on, despite me getting As. Being able to quickly recall that stuff is super-important when in a practical setting, because practical settings are intense. Perhaps closing one's eyes, attempting to recall the details of an experiment and things learned, doing it as quick as possible, opening the eyes, moving to another seat (like musical chairs without someone taking away a chair), and doing it all over again makes a good mock atmosphere. Or just imagine it and be lazy...

 

The genetics exam focused on me being able to know the details of the experiments we did through the semester. It also focused on tidbits of info that a person should have learned and memorized by doing the experiment, such as knowing the typical phenotypic and genotypic ratios of a cross between two heterozygous parents. So, there was detail involved. In general, constant review would have helped me save a lot of time.

 

As a final note, I would have to say that these kind of practical sharply differed from a simple anatomy exam. For instance, an anatomy exam is mostly pure memorization. That's actually simpler than memorizing the majority of details to an experiment in relation to purpose of the experiment, methods and materials, results, and expected results. I feel as though the anatomy exam I had was much simpler.

 

other additional notes:

1. by arabic words, I mean just looking at the textual side of things. Some religions don't believe in using imagery, so they rely on text in beautifully arranged forms in order to represent deeper meanings; still, the person is using text rather than explicit imagery.

 

2. also, i quickly learned that it helps to actually write the station's question on the form I have if I don't have enough time to evaluate what that station is asking of me. So, when I was determining the phenotype of a cross between to diploid parents with different adenine synthesis pathway genotypes and determining if the offspring would be red or white.. i didn't have time to actually think through it with the limited time... so I just wrote the parental genotypes and when i had some free time at another station, i did the cross and determined the offspring.

Edited by Genecks

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Agree with Neuroscience's prev response #2-writing it out will help you keep things straight as to what you are trying to get answer for. I also found whatever studying pattern you start with is usually gonna be your most successful key to passing this stuff. It's about developing a system/rhythm/pattern that works for you.

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