What Every Biology Student Should Know

These are concepts and areas of knowledge that the high school student should be reasonably familiar with before going on to the college level biology course.  Look for patterns in biology.  The needs for all life forms on Earth are constant; the methods of meeting those needs are different. The student should be familiar with both the needs and the methods.  Plan on spending about one-fifth of your class time on lab work.  Remember, this is only an outline.

  1. Know the areas of study in biology and their names.
  2. Know the classification system with emphasis on its structure, criteria for classification of the organisms, and be familiar with groupings and examples down to class and order.
  3. Know the names and be able to recognize the common species of your area.  Understand their roles in the area.  Example:  Rice:  economic importance as food source.  Fields provide habitats for nutria, fish, amphibians.  Grown where ground may be too wet for other grains.
  4. Know the cycles of life and how they vary from phylum to phylum – class to class.
  5. Understand the fundamental premise that every organism must perform functions to survive and that these are similar in all life forms.  The things that make each life form unique are the methods by which these functions are carried out.  It is the combination of the structural differences which make the types of life interesting as well as variant.
  6. Know the systems that function within organisms, and how they work together.
  7. Be able to relate the needs of all organisms to specific organisms and explain how their special form meets the need.  Example:  oxygen is needed by all the cells in any organism.  Gaseous exchange is a function whereby this need is met.  Some organisms perform gas exchange with lungs, some with gills, some use blood to circulate the oxygen, some have closed circulatory systems, some open, some do gas exchange through the skin.  You get the idea, I hope, that each species meets the same need in a different way.
  8. Be able to recognize various major organs of different life forms from dissection experience or from drawings.
  9. Understand the cell theory and the basic structure of the living cell.
  10. Know the process whereby life characteristics are transferred to future generations.  Mitosis and meiosis, reproductive systems.
  11. Know the various types of reproduction used as well as examples of each.  Example: vegetative propagation.
  12. Know the cell types and how they work together in tissues.  Know the different types of tissues and be able to explain how their structure is related to what work they do.
  13. Understand basic types of inheritance and how they impact humans and domesticated life forms.
  14. Know the processes of photosynthesis and respiration and their relationships to living things.
  15. Osmosis, diffusion, and active transport:  distinguish and explain with examples.
  16. Know the uses of enzymes in the bodies of life forms.
  17. Know the uses of hormones and their effect on the body.
  18. Be able to explain and construct an energy pyramid.
  19. Know some effects of environmental change on organisms and interrelationships between them.
  20. Know some population studies including these factors:  over-population, density-induced stress, density-induced diseases (both physical and psychological).  Know the effects on populations of predation, density, food supply, and waste removal.
  21. Know human health, anatomy and the methods of maintaining well-being.
  22. Know some of the vectors of diseases and how to prevent the diseases.
  23. Know human development from embryology to adulthood.  Also be able to name the causes and general treatment of some of the more common disorders.  Example: diabetes.
  24. Be able to read and construct line charts and graphs from data sets.
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  1. Teaching Biology at Home | Homeschool Science Press - March 11, 2011

    […] or butchering venison. An outline of what a biology course usually contains is in the post: “What every biology student should know“.  Take the list you have made, combine it with the fundamentals list and then divide the […]

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