chem and micro are demanding courses in their own right, and both together are definitely so. but that does not mean you cannot ace them. be diligent about studying and your time management needs to be exact. these are two classes that you don't want to fall behind on.
a couple of tips, you might want to print these out :d :
(1) as stated by mzchas, do not attend lecture without having first read the chapter being discussed!
seriously, just read the chapter like you're reading a book. you obviously will not understand everything you will read (i did not and most people won't) but this helps you get some familiarity in your head about what the prof will discuss. after lecture when you're reviewing, you will only then need to skim for the important info that was highlighted in class (at which time you can also use a highlighter to mark whats important for a test. if you don't read beforehand, you are more likely to zone out during lecture when something unfamiliar is being covered, or you will spend time trying to think about something during lecture that you don't understand and miss the stuff that the prof has moved on to talk about.
(2) sit in the first row, right in front of the professor.
this is the only way to assure that your focus is on the prof and only the prof. sitting anywhere else in class will only give you more periphery of what's going on in class. your eyes will start to wander and you start watching other students chat, pass notes, text, fool around, and that will distract you. don't sit with your friends, because lecture time is not the time to chat or whatever. insist on sitting in the front with those blinders on. i had friends in my classes but when lecture was on, i was in front. there was plenty of time for play after. if you have friends as diligent as you, then it is ok to sit together as long as there is an agreement not to distract each other once lecture begins. in labs, i think it is ok to be with friends as lab partners as long as you follow the same rules. when working together on experiments (particularly on the unknown bacteria ones when you will have to deal with all those biochemical tests - you will see what i mean later in the fall), it will add an element of fun too.
(3) if you're sure you're not going to keep your textbooks, consider renting your textbooks instead of buying them
and then selling them back for $2 lol ... i have rented my textbooks from www.chegg.com
and have always been pleased. i often use www.campusbooks.com
first to see who offers the best deal. they pay return shipping when books are due back, the process is very easy. last summer, i rented my a&p book for the entire summer for 1 & 2 (which was the equivalent of a semester length) and i rented it for @ $50 - the book was $225 in the bookstore
... nice save! oh, if you choose to extend rental or even buy your book at the end, you can do that easily on the website, and cheaper than from a bookstore usually.
(4) for micro, i found the barron's book microbiology the easy way
a big help to me, it was written in plain language and complemented my lectures nicely. almost seemed like a cliff notes, at least written that way.
(5) for micro also, i found using youtube is an invaluable source
! i used it to review concepts that were a bit confusing and watch videos with animations that would help me visualize what was going on. there are tons of them. works for chemistry too. if you're confused about say, dna transcripton and translation, search that and you will see many that will explain it. watch a few and it will make sense! cellular respiration is covered in depth in micro and i can't recommend enough the 7 or 8 videos that professor fink has posted on youtube, i was an expert after i watched them (i recommend watching them after your own professor's lecture). here is the first one:
(6) as a general rule, start off strong!!
ace the first couple of tests and assignments because they tend to be the easiest ones! using this strategy, you can then relax a bit for tests later on that will challenge you and fall back on the higher grades you got on easier tests to even things out. cellular metabolism, genetics and immunity were probably the toughest topics covered in micro, so be ready for those. don't be scared, just be armed with the knowledge to be ready! when i did well at the beginning in one course (actually it was a&p), at the end i calculated that i only needed to get a 50 on the final and i could still get an a (which i did, got a 90).
(7) as for study groups
, i hate them, i really do. i am willing however to meet with people who request me to join them for one however, but i am very observant at the first meeting. if we don't get anywhere and i notice that there is too much fooling around and attempts to redirect to studying are futile, i stop. and unfortunately this has been my experience 90% of the time. in the long run, my grade is based on my work alone so i'm the only one i can depend on. if you find a group that hits the ground running and accomplishes tons (with an appropriate amount of breaks of course, it can't be all work), embrace it! i may have only had one of those, that was lucky for me though. and just because i hate study groups generally, it's not like i don't help my classmates out. if someone is having trouble understanding something, i don't mind helping them out. i am not competing with anyone to be top of the class, i just want an a even if that means barely getting the 90 --- we are all trying to do well together.
(8) i took chem before micro, so i had an advantage. but in your case, note that there is a chapter in micro that covers chem basics, it usually follows the intro micro chapter. i would recommend reviewing those chem basics now before the semester starts
so you're not too bogged down with this. it's not that bad. if i recall, the barron's book has a chapter with this review (topics like what is an atom, atoms make up molecules, 2 hydrogen and one oxygen atoms make up water, water is a dipole molecule, covalent bonds, mutual bonds [ok, i made that last one up lol, laugh darnit ... :d ... etc etc). go to barnes & noble and pick up a review book that covers the chem basics in a chapter and read it right there at the shelf!
(9) take advantage of all extra credit available,
no matter what. you never know when you will need it, even if you're safely holding on to an a. my true story: i got stuck in traffic once going to one of my evening lectures (which is why i now love online classes, but i digress) and i got to class 30 minutes late for a psych test (there were 5 of them for the semester). because i lost so much time and the stress of getting there was still with me, i ended up not doing as well on my test as i could have if i got there timely. i guessed on about 15 questions due to time and i got a 71. but, i had 20 extra credit points banked in from a prior assignment i did, so add that and voila, 91! plus with all my other tests which were over 90, i got my a!
(10) finally, get your sleep!
seriously, if it's midnight and you're nodding off in front of your computer or your textbook and notes, you have to just say f**k it and get to bed! you're not helping yourself by fighting it. i don't drink caffeine and refuse to (also because my body is very sensitive to it, but i will drink decaf for the taste of coffee) so i don't force my body to stay awake. if i am tired, i am tired ... nighty night! :d ... besides, studying is like exercising. when you're resting, your mind is processing everything that you've been putting in. that's the valuable time! this is why cramming does not work, you will not retain and have time to mull everything over. in the shower, i end up reciting things to myself that i read the night before. this is how i know i am learning
i got a's in both chemistry and micro, and the above is pretty much my routine for most classes. mind you, i work full-time too so i don't have all the time in the world to study either. the more time you spend actively learning in lecture and lab, the less time you need to study on average. seriously, make these classes your priority and you will succeed as we all have. as you know, nursing school is competitive, and applicants are presenting higher and higher grades. be one of them!!
sorry so long a post, but wanted to arm you with what works for me, time and time again ... good luck!