Current Student Available For Questions About Freshman Bio Major/Pre-Med Courses
So with this trend of threads I figured that I would start one due to the large amount of people who take intro bio and intro chem for the bio major or the pre-med requirements for freshman year.
I am a sophomore student who is leaning towards pre-med. I am most likely going to be a biology major with a concentration in neurobiology and behavior. The biology major courses that I have taken are:
BioG 105 - Autotutorial Biology
Chem 207 and 208 - Gen Chem
BioEE 278 - Evolutionary Biology
(also took 2 semesters of a language so far and 2 writing seminars)
Unfortunately I WILL NOT be able to answer any questions about BioG 101, 102, 103, or 104 (or 106 since i AP'ed out into 278). Please do not ask - I have not taken the courses and there are other people who can answer them better. Don't ask about anything other than freshman courses either - I'm busy asking other people here about them myself!
I strongly encourage questions particularly on Bio 105 - so many people are not even aware of the course coming in, and I feel that it is an outstanding, although difficult and often very time consuming course (i am sure many would disagree on it being outstanding - the course is NOT for everyone). I strongly recommend the course, especially to pre-meds.
So I dunno how many questions I will get, but oh well, I know that if I knew things about these courses earlier, I would've been less stressed out in the beginning, so ask away!
What is Autotutorial 105
I will be a bio major-interest in genetics and I am hoping I got a 5 on the AP bio exam. What is so good about it?
at admitted students week they said not to skip freshmen bio--what do you think having skipped AP bio?
My Kaplan MCAT instructor always said that he regrets not using his AP credit. He said Bio 101-102 was the most miserable class he ever took at Cornell. Many advisors recommend using your AP credit to place out of intro Bio...only the Bio department doesn't :-)
Autotutorial Bio 105 is simply Autotutorial Intro Biology. What does this mean? It is best compared to the lecture.
From what I know of the lecture - you basically attend lecture 3 days a week, there's clicker questions, online quizzes, prelims (tests), lab, etc.
In Autotutorial Biology, you don't really have scheduled class (aside from organizational and info lectures once a week, as well as optional study sessions with a ta). You buy the bio textbook and a Bio 105 "Survival Guide" which gives you ALL of the course information, including organization, grading, unit objectives, and labs.
The basic format of the class is that you have 10 units to "master" worth 45 percent of your grade, 1 intro lab, 2 lab write ups, and 1 lab practical worth 35 percent of your grade, and the final worth 20 percent of your grade.
Each unit will have a theme (eg, chemistry of biology, nervous system). For each unit, on your own time, you will self study the unit from the survival guide and recommended textbook chapters, do objectives in your survival guide, and and study them. Objectives gear you towards what your unit written and oral tests will be like in terms of content. Objectives range from asking you to understanding simple concepts, to making charts of things such as cell organelles, to memorizing slides of what different types of plant tissue looks like. Each unit has 15 to 25 objectives on average (with sub parts a-f, etc.). When you are confident on your objectives, you go to the study center to take your test.
First you will take a written quiz and then an oral test. The written quiz is pretty standard, but the oral test is a pass fail exam administered by a TA, and they will basically interview you on all the material for the unit, and you will have to answer the questions right. It is pretty comprehensive and you can't really bs them, or you'll fail. If you know your stuff, then you pass and go onto the next unit. If you fail, then you can come back and take it the next day (btw this is all in the study center in stimson). Just keep trying until you pass - you must understand that failing a test isn't the end - the key thing about the course is mastery of each unit, so you take the test as many times as you need to until you pass.
There is a catch - deadlines in the course are HUGE! Depending on who your study TA is, you will have a certain date that you need to pass the test by. For example I believe that class for me started on August 22nd - my first deadline was the 29th - YOU CANNOT PROCRASTINATE. Deadlines do not mean that you take the test that day, if you take the test the day of the deadline and fail, then you miss your deadline. Plan on taking the test a few days ahead of time. You are also given 10 extension days - you cannot use them for the 1st 3 units though. Plan on devoting tons of time to this material - this isn't like a lecture class where you can just bs and not have to completely understand every objective - you must completely understand each objective to do well. This class is a very accurate correlation of how well you know the material to what your grade will be, so it is very rewarding to do well after completely mastering the units. Those who fall behind and do not master objectives will end up failing oral tests, getting far behind - if you do not have extension days left then you lose 1.5 percentage points for each test you miss the deadline for.
Oral tests are great for showing all that you know. If you ever have had a test where you did bad but wish you could've subjectively answered more on a subject to do better - now is your chance. Say as much as you want about a topic the TA asks you about. They will even use interactive visual aids such as slides and dissections to ask questions about - the tests are very practical, and they even help with interviewing skills in a way.
as for labs - lab reports are graded very harshly - this is a lab report style that you would find in a journal (not like the easy chem lab reports) - a lot of time and effort goes into them, so make them good - the means are lower than you'd think. Lab practical is one of the best parts of the course - very good for pre-med people, as it is really good for anatomy and physiology (don't really wanna give more away on its content, not sure if i can - i will say that the practical was both the most difficult but fairly rewarding test I've ever had - more than any other test I've taken, the amount of time spent studying correlates to how well you do, another great thing about the course). The 2nd half of the course is basically devoted to anatomy and physiology where you use dissections as a guide also, as well as slides. One thing that AP Bio courses seem to really lack is preparation on anatomy and physiology (though you'd be in better shape if you had such a course in high school). People have actually complained about this, kvetching about how stupid it is to need to know the different arteries. I won't forget when one was complaining about failing because they got one artery confused with one above it - "it's the same general area" they cried - I'd hate to be the patient of that future surgeon - I just think from this, the course can be very good for pre-meds and to get a feel for if you'd be cut out for it, or complain about "little things" like that and be a grade grubber.
I knew ahead of time that if I sat through a bio lecture, having already slept through AP bio, I would just sleep again. Why go to lecture if you're only gonna sleep and not pay attention? I personally hate lectures - I'd rather just teach myself on my own time - if you're like this then take 105. DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE IF YOUR PROCRASTINATE. I cannot stress this enough - if you even think you may procrastinate, you WILL do terribly - trust me, I've seen it happen. This course works perfectly for and gives highest grades to those who work hard and who do not procrastinate and who can self-study but know when to ask questions and go to a TA for help.
For just organization - the TA's are very helpful (I myself want to apply to be one in the future) and the study center has great hours (on average open i think over 40 hours a week) - if you need help, you can easily get a TA to tutor you. You really become self-sufficient with the course - just do not procrastinate. The course is designed to make you work hard and to THINK! I am very happy that instead of taking the same prelim most people had for bio lecture (which they complained about questions being designed to weed out since they are irreverant - and i agreed when hearing the questions), I got to take a course where each question was valuable and made you think, and you were mostly graded on how much you could prove you know, rather than by the constraints of a few objective tests.
As far AP'ing out - yeah, don't do it the first semester. You may think that you are adequately prepared just from AP, but AP is really a complete joke compared to Cornell bio. If you get at least an A- in intro bio, then AP out for the second semester like I did. Also if you AP out, realize that it is harder than you think to find lab courses without prereqs that you can take, especially if you are not a bio major. If you take 105 YOU WILL get a lot out of it, regardless of how much you think you know. I actually regret AP'ing out of 106 - I missed the class and could've gotten so much more out of it than that crappy 278 (only take it if you are a bio major, and if you AP out of spring gen bio, you do it as a bio major to get 278 over with).
interesting, I read all of that. thanks for the perspective.
I'm going to be a bio major, with 5 on the AP from junior year. not pre-med. and I have no clue what I'm going to do yet! but I have absorbed your above posts in to my mind. thanks.
The bio labs that are associated with the freshman bio lecture series, how are the labs? How is it graded? Does it have quizzes, tests, lab reports, etc? How frequently do these things occur and/or need to be done by?
faustarp: no problem - feel free to ask anything else. i still dunno what i completely wanna do yet - most likely neurobio and behavior (very popular), and i might wanna do a concentration in cognitive sciences (specifically cognitive neuroscience). i'm doing clinical research this summer in composing a neuropsyometric battery of tests for stroke patients with a neurologist, so hopefully this'll give me a good idea of what I want to do. one thing that you can do if you're not sure of anything yet is to go onto the bio website and look at concentrations and professor research interests (don't apply for research yet, just get an idea and find out what interests you). there is sooooo much cool research out there. however, this can also be what general bio is there for - to introduce you to the main areas of bio and maybe give you an idea of what you wanna do. i know that there are also 1 credit bio seminars on random topics, so look into that also!
blazinyan300: i'm not the person to ask about this since i took 105. also just course wise, bio 105 is a 4 credit course, while bio 101 (lecture) and bio 102 (lab) are separate 2 credit courses. i can say that lab reports for 105 though are very challenging, probably the most difficult part of the course for me (i did well, but i put a lot of time into it). however, the labs for 105 are great practice for scientific writing and BEING CONCISE, something which everyone should learn how to do (the limit is 6 pages i think, they will not read more - someone handed in a 20 page report with many colored pictures - poor guy).