Study tips for exams

Suggestions by students who made the highest grades about how to study for the virology exams.

  1. Know and understand all information on the outline for the chapter.
  2. Know "study guide" information. Supplement with related chapter information.
  3. Take detailed notes and study notes.
  4. Review notes in advance of exam to allow time to ask any questions you may have.


  1. The most effective way that I have found to study is to write index cards on the lectures.
  2. I also make up questions from the lecture notes.
  3. I try to start studying early to insure enough time to thoroughly cover the lectures.
  4. I try to read the book after studying the lectures.
  5. I make sure that I am always in lecture.

  1. Attend every class.
  2. Start studying at least 5 days before by reading through the material several times (I did this mostly in spare time, for instance during breaks on campus)
  3. About 3 days before the exams I would start to study by topic (the individual viruses or diagnostics, biotechnology, etc.). I would start to memorize the material by covering up all the information but the slide title and then I would try to recite the information back to myself. I wouldn't move to the next topic until I felt comfortable with the current one. Once I got through all the exam material, I would start over again and if I got to a topic that I was having problems remembering I would go give it more studying time.
  4. About 1 - 2 days before the exam I would start to go over the practice questions and team based learning. If I was scoring 70s and 80s I obviously knew that I needed to go over the material again. By the time I would get 90s and 100s, I would know that I knew the material enough for the exam.
  5. I think that's about all. It doesn't seem like too much, but I guess I managed to make it work. Also, like I was telling you in your office, if students start complaining about having molecular genetic exams and your virology exams on the same day, I feel that they just need to know how to allocate their time better. I hope this helps some of your future students. And again, thanks for an enjoyable, informative class!


  1. In my opinion, the best method of studying for the virology course is to start by attending all the lectures and taking good notes.
  2. I follow up the class lectures by watching the video lectures in Canvas.
  3. Around a week before the exam, I begin to go over my notes and re-write them into my own words.
  4. When this process is complete, I read through my written notes while looking at all diagrams from the powerpoints that I could not reproduce in my written notes.
  5. I attempt to go over the notes at least four times, and I write down on a "review sheet" in order to solidify the ideas I found most difficult.
  6. Finally, I take the practice questions in order to test my knowledge of the subject.

    ***KEY POINT: While re-writing the notes make sure to not leave anything out, because EVERY DETAIL is applicable material for a test question.


  1. The information is presented and given to all of us in the same way (lectures and Canvas information).
  2. It’s up to each of us to take notes that add to that information. So the first tip would be to take notes that would help you remember the information better. I take notes on the stories you tell us, so that later when I am studying I can remember the story and thus the information so I learn more effectively.
  3. If I connect the information with something like a story in my mind, I remember it better.
  4. Another tip would be to learn the information, not just memorize it. Because it has happened to me that I look over and over the same thing until I memorize it, but when that thing is taken in a different context, I forget it. So a way to prevent this is to learn the information in different ways.For example, look over the lectures and notes and then compile that in your own words. Then make note cards. Then make questions that might be asked on the test. Then test a friend. And so on... These are all ways to repeat the information to be learned in new ways so you have to think about it, not memorize it in a certain context. Because I think this is what makes the actual test questions so tricky sometimes, the fact that they resemble that context. This makes a perfect trap for students who memorized the information in that same context (like the story you told me about the student pointing at the answer with RNA saying it was DNA). - The way I study is to first understand the major ideas like what are the major differences between toga and flaviviruses, and then, once I have that "down", go over the details.
  5. I do this because sometimes I find myself lost in the many details given without really seeing the big picture, and without it, you can’t really understand what's going on. Again, relating back to learning rather than just memorizing.
  6. One last tip would be to take the practice questions, and make sure you go over them and understand why you did how you did.


  1. For virology test 2: Went to class and took notes.
  2. Listened to the online lectures while taking notes.
  3. Listened to the online lectures once again, focusing on listening and understanding since I had already taken notes.
  4. I went over the notes enough that I could talk about each virus. I brought up fun facts on each virus to everyone I knew, and showed them pictures (my friends are pre-med too so they let me tell them about the viruses).
  5. I did the quizzes online and wrote down each question and the right answer.
  6. I reviewed these sheets until I knew the answers and why the other answers were wrong. Number one trick is to be able to know all the virus differences and similarities. Whenever I had a free moment I'd write down things about each virus to help me with that. I spent about a week preparing only for this exam (I had other exams the week before).
  7. The last 2 or 3 days before the exam I put in long days (8-10 hours or more) studying, which was feasible since it was the weekend.


  1. I came to class everyday and listened to your lectures
  2. I made sure to pay attention to the topics you emphasized. For example, you really stressed the vaccinia and baculovirus expression vectors.
  3. I also figured that since your research is on baculovirus expression vectors and insect virology, you would stress the lectures on insect viruses. Another topic you emphasized in class was the Adenovirus/Papillomavirus cell cycle regulation through E1A/E1B and E6/E7 respectively.
  4. Also, I made a note of whenever you mentioned "all of the following except..." and reviewed my notes from watching the video about Papillomaviruses. These in class techniques really helped me on a few exam questions that required some thinking
  5. Out of class, I studied for the rest of the exam questions by reviewing the slides presented with audio. I listened to the audio for each slide 2-3 times and made sure I knew what was going on for every slide. There was a lot of detail but I tried not to get buried in it by making a list of similarities and differences for Parvoviruses, Papillomaviruses, Adenovirus, Herpesviruses, Poxviruses, and Insect viruses. For example, I noted which virus had similar and different virus structures, genomes, replication strategies, diagnosis, symptoms, etc. This way, during the exam, I was quickly able to refer back to my organized mental schematic of the different viruses families and answer questions regarding any of these topics. The slides with audio ultimately helped me answer a majority of exam questions and I felt like it was a great resource to have.


  1. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I didn't do anything all that special to prepare for the first exam. I purchased the study guide, read through it, and listened to your voice-overs of the slides. You were very specific in the voice-overs as to the information we needed to know for the exam.
  2. After listening to a few sections I did the corresponding practice questions provided in the software. I found that there were many similar questions on the exam.
  3. I also wrote down several times the different virus families and their nucleic acid type, location of replication, etc. I didn't spend an excessive amount of time studying, as the material came pretty easily to me (I took Bacterial and Viral Pathogens last semester). I usually don't feel the need to study as much for multiple choice exams, as all you really need to do is become familiar enough with the material to recognize key terms and be able to associate them with information that is right there in front of you. I also find that some questions give hints to the answers of other questions. Other than that, I guess I was just lucky that you asked questions that I knew the answer to, or could at least narrow down the answer to two choices.