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Study Smart For The Chem Boards: Biochemistry Study Tips

Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Biochemistry Study Tips

Post Series: Study Tips for the Chemist Licensure Exam

Studying biochemistry is markedly different from studying the other branches of chemistry because of how heavily it relies on a huge amount of concepts and their relationships with each other. There is an important reason why this subject is taken during the last years of your college education. It involves all the other branches of chemistry working together to shed some light on the greatest phenomena of all – life.

While a number of students may find studying concepts easier compared to number-crunching, what makes biochemistry truly challenging is the sheer volume of terms, molecular structures, and processes one needs to know. This task is exponentially more challenging in the context of the board exam because you will need to retain all of these at once, and on top of the other branches to boot! Do not despair though! The SRC Team is here to share our proven techniques to make studying this wonderful subject less intimidating.

Draw Structures
Five nucleotides. Sixteen aldohexoses. Twenty amino acids. An assortment of lipids and other molecules. How can one retain knowledge of all of these structures? By finding patterns! Most of these biomolecules do follow a certain pattern regarding their structures. Keep those in mind while you repeatedly practice drawing their structures on paper.

Layer Metabolic Pathways
Start simple. Try looking at the general features first. Then add the intermediates. Then add the cofactors and ATP. Then add the enzymes. Then study the relevant mechanisms and points of regulation. It’s not recommended that you try learning about every single thing all at once. Study these in layers. Once you have a solid idea of the basics of each pathway, you can then add more and more details to it to suit you. You may also make your own posters for the most important pathways and place them somewhere convenient. In addition, there are some amazing videos for these pathways which you can find online. Biochemistry is a highly visual subject, so watching those videos will definitely give you a boost.

Integrate with Other Branches
There is an interdisciplinary nature to biochemistry and it will definitely help your overall preparation for the board exam if you highlight how some topics relate to other branches. For instance, you will be using analytical chemistry to study the isoelectric point of amino acids. You will be using thermodynamics and electrochemistry to study some of the pathways. You will be relying on your organic chemistry to understand the structure and reactions of biomolecules. Making yourself aware of how these different fields relate to biochemistry will be like hitting two birds with one stone.

Work on Questions
Biochemistry may be a concept-heavy field but this should not mean you should limit yourself to just reading about these concepts. You need to apply them to actual questions before you can truly say you are done with studying a chapter. Our SRC Library contains a selection of practice books including GRE and Schaum’s test booklets if you feel like you are ready to test your mettle. Our recommended references for biochemistry are the textbooks by Stryer and Lehninger. They tackle each topic in a manner suitable for the board exam.

Understand, Don’t Just Memorize
Plain memorization may sometimes be the quickest method at first but when you’re blindly memorizing a huge amount of terms and the strain starts to show, you will eventually find how ineffective this is in the long run. Spend some time to actually understand what these terms mean. This method may be slow-going at first, but just keep at it and you will find that they will last longer in your head.

Love the Subject
Biochemistry may look intimidating to some but do not forget how endlessly fascinating it really is. It is the gateway to a lot of other exciting topics such as genetic engineering, drug development, and cancer research among others. Your attitude towards the subject matters a lot too. When you study all of these biomolecules and pathways, keep in mind that you are also studying about your own cells. You are analyzing the details of how your own body works. You are studying the chemistry of what makes you alive and spending time learning about such things will never be a waste.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Hi I want to ask if am I still eligible to take the Licensure exam for chemist even if I am already nearly 40 years old. I’ve graduated wayback march 2002, so it’s been almost 20 years ago.. I am a license teacher major in physical science and I am teaching General chemistry 1 and 2 for senior high school.. I also teach Inorganic Chemistry, organic chem and Analytical chemistry for college (BSED Science major).. I am currently taking my MST Chemistry at CAgayan State University… My under graduate is BS Chemistry by the way and I really want to be a license Chemist too. Please enlighten me…Thanks for your future advises…God bless po..

    1. Hi Antonette!

      As far as we know, there is no age limit in the Chemist Licensure Exam application. If you are a BS Chemistry graduate and are able to submit the following requirements, you are eligible.

      -BS in Chemistry
      -NSO / PSA Birth Certificate
      -NSO / PSA Marriage Contract (for married female applicants)
      -Transcript of Records with scanned picture and Remarks “For Board Examination Purposes”
      -Valid NBI Clearance (First Timers & Repeaters)
      -Certificate of Good Moral Character from any of the following: barangay, church, school, employer
      -Title Page and Approval Sheet of Thesis (Thesis should be indicated in TOR)

      Happy to help!

      Best regards,
      The SRC Team

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