Kaplan Essential Review: High School Biology


A review for high school students of the core concepts of biology as well as test-taking strategies and practice tests.

A review for high school students of the core concepts of biology as well as test-taking strategies and practice tests.

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A review for high school students of the core concepts of biology as well as test-taking strategies and practice tests.

A review for high school students of the core concepts of biology as well as test-taking strategies and practice tests.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684868202
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 7.42 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Read an Excerpt

How to Use This Book This book is designed to supplement your textbook and your class notes. As a general outline to the material you are studying, it contains the most important facts you'll need to remember to do well on your class tests, midterms, and finals. It's a powerful tool, for the student who can use it correctly. Here's how to make your test scores higher:

Study Tips

The first chapter contains some general strategies for doing well on tests...strategies that you may not have learned in school. Read through it and remember the valuable advice it contains.

Diagnostic Test

The first practice test is a diagnostic test -- by taking it and checking your answers, you will be able to identify your weak points and begin your work of shoring them up. The answer to every question will point you to the chapter in the book where problems like the one tested in the question are further explained. Consult the relevant chapter in your texbook to further solidify your understanding of each concept.

Content Review

The chapters after the diagnostic test are a comprehensive review of the material you are learning in class. Read these in the order that will help you best. For example, if you're preparing for a final exam, you can hit the chapters you identified as weak points in the diagnostic test first, and then read all of the others later. Or, if you're studying for a weekly test, you can concentrate only on the topics that will be tested. Or, if you have some time on your hands, you can start at the beginning and read straight through to the end. There is no wrong way to read it...the most important thing is that you get the information you need to do well.

Practice Tests

This book contains five practice tests (the diagnostic test in the beginning of the book, and four others at the end). These are closer in difficulty to a final exam than they are to an ordinary test, but don't panic: You're the only one who will see your scores, and you have the benefit of filling the gaps in your knowledge before you're tested for real in school. If you can do well on these tests, you're well on the road to mastering this subjects!

Copyright © 1999 by Kaplan Educational Centers

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First Chapter

Chapter 1 Taking Tests: Some Basic Advice

In just about every subject, the key to doing well on tests involves good study habits, listening, and concentration. Still, there is certainly a lot to be said for developing good test-taking skills. The fact is, any exam is partially a test of your understanding of the subject, and partially a test of your ability to do well on that type of test. It's possible for one student to have studied and prepared less than another and still do better on a test merely because the first student is a more capable "tester."

Not fair, you say? You're probably right. Unfortunately, the only practical way educators have found so far of measuring students' abilities is through tests, all of which are standardized to some degree or another. You will have to face them throughout your academic life, and perhaps even in your career. The good news is, test-taking skills can be learned, just like any other set of skills. Here's a guide to tackling some common types of questions on high school tests.


Teachers like multiple-choice tests because they are very easy to grade. The cool thing about them from a student's perspective is that the answer is right there staring you in the face. All you have to do is figure out how to distinguish the right answer from all the wrong answers. If you know the answer, this is easy. It's when you are not sure -- or don't know at all -- that things get tricky. He are some tactics you can use.

Process of Elimination

When you go shopping for clothes, isn't it easier to spot what you don't like than something you like? The same can be true with multiple-choice questions. You may not be able to spot the correct answer right away, but there may be an answer or two that are so blatantly wrong that they leap off the paper. Likewise, there may be one or two other answers that you are fairly certain are wrong, too. Using the process of elimination, you could answer a question correctly by knowing the wrong answers. Don't eliminate an answer choice, though, until sure you are reasonably sure that it is wrong. You don't want to be too hasty and cut a correct answer just because it is unfamiliar to you or you don't know what it means.

Give It a Guess

Let's say that, when faced with four answer choices to a test question, you use the process of elimination to eliminate two answer choices -- but can't decide which of the remaining two choices is the correct answer. Now what do you do?

It depends. If there is no penalty for wrong answers -- that is, if you just get a zero for a wrong answer and your teacher doesn't actually deduct points from your score -- always, always guess. You have nothing to lose. If you leave it blank, you will get zero points, but if you guess, you just might guess right.

If your teacher counts off points for wrong answers (and many do this to discourage guessing on a multiple-choice test), you should guess only when the odds are in your favor -- that is, when you can eliminate at least one answer choice (out of four). Since there is some risk involved, you shouldn't guess on more than one third of the questions on your test.


There are a few common problems that can throw off the multiple-choice test taker:

Decoys. Stay on your toes. Your instructor may try to lure you in with an answer that looks like a "gimme."

Second guessing. Your first impulse, as long as it was based on some sort of reason, is usually correct. Don't go back and change your answers unless you know for sure you were wrong. When in doubt, stick with your original answer.

Overanalyzing. Sometimes, students see a trick in everything. They try to read between the lines of every question and wind up unable to pick an answer because they think they are falling for a trap. Don't make yourself crazy. Just read the question carefully and accept it at face value.

Misreading. If you skim or read carelessly, you may miss very important words in a question, like not or except. You may miss the instructions that tell you to "pick all that apply," and wind up only giving one answer when several are required. Stay sharp and pay attention.


The countdown has begun. Your test is looming on the horizon. Anxiety is on the rise. Your thinking is getting cloudy. Maybe you think you won't be ready. Maybe you already know your stuff, but you're going into panic mode anyway. Worst of all, you're not sure of what to do about it.

Don't worry! It is possible to tame that anxiety and stress -- before and during the SAT or any other test. You won't believe how quickly and easily you can deal with that killer anxiety. Here's how:

Making the Most of Your Prep Time

Lack of control is one of the prime causes of stress. A ton of research shows that if you don't have a sense of control over what's happening in your life you can easily end up feeling helpless and hopeless. So, just having concrete things to do and to think about -- taking control -- will help reduce your stress. This section shows you how to take control during the days leading up to the test.

Identify the Sources of Stress

In the space provided, jot down (in pencil) anything you identify as a source of your test-related stress. The idea is to pin down that free-floating anxiety so that you can take control of it. Here are some common examples to get you started.

  • I always freeze upon tests.
  • I'm nervous about a particular topic in this subject.
  • I need a good/great score to make the Principal's List.
  • My older brother-sister/best friend/girl- or boyfriend did really well. I must match their scores or do better.
  • My parents will be really disappointed if I don't test well.
  • I'm afraid of losing my focus and concentration.
  • I'm afraid I'm not spending enough time preparing.
  • I study like crazy but nothing seems to stick in my mind.
  • I always run out of time and get panicky.
  • Thinking starts to feel like wading through thick mud.

Sources of Stress

Take a few minutes to think about the things you've just written down. Then put them in some sort of order. List the statements you most associate with your stress and anxiety first, and put the least disturbing items last. Chances are, the top of the list is a fairly accurate description of exactly how you react to test anxiety, both physically and mentally. The later items usually describe your fears (disappointing mom and dad, looking bad, etc.). As you write the list, you're forming a hierarchy of items so you can deal first with the anxiety-provokers that bug you most. Very often, taking care of the major items from the top of the list goes a long way toward relieving overall testing anxiety. You probably won't have to bother with the stuff you placed last.

Study Tips

  • Don't study in a messy or cramped area. Before you sit down to study, clear yourself a nice, open space. And make sure you have books, paper, pencils -- whatever tools you will need -- within easy reach before you sit down to study.
  • Don't study on your bed, especially if you have problems with insomnia. Your mind may start to associate the bed with work, and make it even harder for you to fall asleep.
  • A lamp with a 75-watt bulb is optimal for studying. But don't keep it so close that you create a glare.
  • If you want to play music, keep it low and in the background. Music with a regular, mathematical rhythm -- reggae, for example -- aids the learning process. A recording of ocean waves is also soothing.

Handling Stress During the Test

The biggest stress monster will be test day itself. Fear not; there are methods of quelling your stress during the test.

  • Keep moving forward instead of getting bogged down in a difficult question. The best test-takers skip (temporarily) difficult material in search of the easier stuff. They mark the ones that require extra time and thought. This strategy buys time and builds confidence so you can handle the tough stuff later.
  • Don't be thrown if other test takers seem to be working more busily furiously than you are. Continue to spend your time patiently but doggedly thinking through your answers; it's going to lead to higher-quality test taking and better results. Don't mistake other people's sheer activity for progress and higher scores.
  • Keep breathing! Weak test takers tend to share one major trait: They forget to breathe properly as the test proceeds. They start holding their breath without realizing it, or they breathe erratically or arrhythmically. Improper breathing can hurt hurt your confidence and accuracy. Just as important, can interfere with clear thinking.
  • Some quick isometrics during the test -- especially if concentration is wandering or energy is waning -- can help. Try this: Put your palms together and press intensely for a few seconds. Concentrate on the tension you feel through your palms, wrists, forearms, and up into your biceps and shoulders. Then, quickly release the pressure. Feel the difference as you let go. Focus on the warm relaxation that floods through the muscles. Now you're ready to return to the task.
  • Here's another isometric exercise that wilt relieve tension in both your neck and eye muscles. Slowly rotate your head from side to side, turning your head and eyes to look as far back over each shoulder as you can. Feel the muscles stretch on one side of your neck as they contract on the other. Repeat this processive times in each direction.

Now that you've got the test mechanics and your stress level under control, read through the content review in the next chapters. This book and your studies will give you all of the information you need to do well on your tests.

Copyright © 1999 by Kaplan Educational Centers

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