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How hard is a biology major?

premed4premed4 Posts: 944Registered User Member
edited December 2010 in Science Majors
I want to be a biology major for pre med because I love and am good at science and math. I have been hearing though that this is not suggested because it is really hard to get a good gpa if you are a science major. I am already really good at them and I was wondering if people say that being a science major is hard because they are not good at it or if it is hard for everyone? So are there some people that being a science major is easy for?
Post edited by premed4 on

Replies to: How hard is a biology major?

  • jwxiejwxie Posts: 1,479Registered User Senior Member
    It is hard to get good GPA regardless of which major you are in. You might be getting difficult professors, or you might be getting all easy A professors. The liberal art courses are there to help bolster your GPA.

    Let's be fair - if you put in enough time on school works, you should be fine. A 4.0 is great, a 3.7 is great also. So work hard and try your best to get the most out of it.
  • premed4premed4 Posts: 944Registered User Member
    ok thanks, but for example in high school there are some classes were you are just good at and you don't have to try very hard to get good grades in those classes, does the same apply to college?
  • DMOCDMOC Posts: 1,442Registered User Senior Member
    I'm going to echo jwxie's sentiments. Every major has its challenges. None are unsurmountable, of course.
  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    you will die in biology if you cannot memorize for 5 hours straight. there are very few calculations and nothing needs understanding, instead you just have to memorize many pointless details. Wnt-induced cell responses, list 3. Role of Wnt in polarity formation of the embryo? Sonic hedgehog functions, list 4. Number of water molecules produced in glycolysis? EGF receptor interacts with tyrosine kinases, True/False? No understanding required, just memorize.
  • Lemaitre1Lemaitre1 Posts: 1,736Registered User Senior Member
    I was accepted at only one of the twenty medical schools I applied to and one of the schools that rejected me actually told me they would have accepted me if my GPA was a little better. Fortunately, you only need one acceptance to become a doctor. My undergraduate major was Astronomy and I had to take a lot of advanced math and physics courses as well as astronomy courses. These courses are inherently very difficult and getting a B in Quantum Physics, Relativity or Celestial Mechanics is quite an intellectual achievement. When the admissions officer from the school that rejected me told me that while my MCAT scores were higher than their average accepted student but me GPA was lower I replied "look at the courses I took, they are much harder than the courses most medical school applicants take". However, he said that was not something they considered, they just focused on the GPA and considered all college courses as basically equivalent in difficulty.

    So at least in my case, I think being an undergraduate science major might have made me a less competitive applicant. I really love Astronomy though and I still do not regret my choice to major in it.
  • ModadunnModadunn Posts: 6,251Registered User Senior Member
    Lemaitre1 - I'd be interested to know if you went to a large public or small private for your undergrad degree.
  • jwxiejwxie Posts: 1,479Registered User Senior Member
    I don't know much about biology's math. I know their calculus sequence is lighter than other sciences and engineering.

    But plain memorization doesn't help. You really need to ask yourself why things work that way, or at least get a good handful of understanding of the context before memorization. I, however, have to agree that a lot of the stuff biology class speaks of don't require contemplation at all.

    @Lemaitre1:
    Well, the story is true in that sense since medical school only cares about the QUALITY of the student :(
  • hudsonvalley51hudsonvalley51 Posts: 2,396Registered User Senior Member
    Biology to can be a difficult major or less difficult depending upon which degree you are pursuing (BA or BS) and which college you are attending. The BS at some schools, for example, will require 2 semesters of organic chemistry, 2 semesters of calculus and 1 of statistics, 2 semesters of physics, 2 semesters of gen chem and 2 semesters of gen bio plus XX number of upper level bio courses. At another school you might be able to earn the BS without the second semester of claculus or only one semester of organic chem. If you are in the BA program your math load may be lighter still and you might not have to take orgo or physics.

    Whatever course of study you take remember to include the rereq courses for med school even if they aren't required to earn a degree in your major.
  • Lemaitre1Lemaitre1 Posts: 1,736Registered User Senior Member
    @Modadun

    University of Maryland College Park
  • 1 Sky Pilot1 Sky Pilot Posts: 558Registered User Member
    Biology is not all memorizing, but I would agree with others here that have said it is a lot of memorizing. The math involved in biology compared to say, chemistry, is an absolute joke where I go lol. As long as you can plug numbers in to formulas and figure out serial dilutions you're good to go...
  • kryptonsa36kryptonsa36 Posts: 1,735Registered User Senior Member
    you will die in biology if you cannot memorize for 5 hours straight. there are very few calculations and nothing needs understanding, instead you just have to memorize many pointless details. No understanding required, just memorize.
    Way to generalize.
  • theuniversetheuniverse Posts: 42Registered User Junior Member
    TheLastThreeYears, that is absurd. Everything in biology requires understanding, how are you supposed to be able to answer new and unique questions without understanding the process? Knowing the number of water molecules produced in glycolysis does you no good if you don't understand why that's important.
  • sschoe2sschoe2 Posts: 675Registered User Member
    There is a lot of memorization in biology. I think the most is in biochemistry II where all the enzyme names and substrates and reactions have to be memorized for glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, fatty acid catabolism etc and of course forgotten about 10 minutes after the exam. Math I don't recall much math beyond basic algebra and some logarithms. It depends what type of physics you take calc or not calc based.

    Chemistry the math isn't too bad either until you deal with PChem which involves multivariable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra to understand quantum. There is also a fair amount of memorization in chem as well. Organic there are a lot of reactions to memorize. There are also a few mechanism with pushing electron with arrows as well.

    In both their are also many concepts that need to be understood and applied.

    I remember when I took Biochem II I had a 5 subject notebook filled with me drawing the citric acid cycle over and over again.
  • flemmydflemmyd Posts: 525Registered User Member
    don't confuse the field of biology (being a researcher, etc) and the major of biology (being a student, just taking classes, seeing the textbook more than your professor).

    plenty of people will talk about biology being all memorization. i feel like they are referring to the latter.

    EDIT: and yes, there is memorization in chemistry. but being taught to memorize something (ie the professors just telling you and no explaination) and learning something by just memorizing something (you not seeing a pattern and just memorizing) aren't the same.

    IE. in organic chem, we all learn about SN 1, SN 2, E 1 and E2 reactions. (there are plenty more names for other reactions). a lot of the bio students i saw just memorized what was what, but the professor tried to emphasize that, generally speaking, they ALL OCCUR. some were MORE PROBABLE than others to occur because of orbital overlap, carbocation stability, etc.
    if you really wanted a deep understanding, you wouldn't ever need a name. just draw arrows on what is either a. possible or b. desired. synthetic chemists used the names to make it easier to communicate though as certain reactions became much more probable/common. (this last paragraph may not make much sense...)
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