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Study Tips with the Raj



Hello and welcome to my column! For those who are new to the column (everyone in this case), allow me to explain how Study Tips with The Raj works. Every week, I feature 3 different classes (e.g. English 10, AP Bio, Sports Medicine) and an upcoming assignment that is due in each class, and give tips as to how to complete the assignment, as well as general tips on how to succeed in the class. However, this time, I’ll be taking a deep dive into two classes, AP Biology and ERCW 12 (Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum).

AP Biology

AP Biology is a senior-level class usually taken after a year of regular biology classes. This class, taught by Mr. Castaneda, explores concepts behind our inner workings, from our cells and DNA all the way up to our major organ systems, as well as interactions between different organisms on a large scale in the environment, such as food chains.

Assignment Name: Unit 2 Concept Checks/AP Classroom Videos Date Assigned: September 18, 2023 Due Date: October 10, 2023

  • Take notes while watching the AP Classroom Videos: When you’re watching the AP Classroom videos, you learn key concepts about the course, which are vital to understanding the course as a whole. While you might be tempted to play the video on double speed and mute the tab, instead you should pay close attention, taking notes, preferably by hand, to increase memory retention. When the teacher in the video pauses for a moment to let you work out a question, take the time to do so, as these questions are often just like the ones that you find on unit tests, as well as the AP exam itself.

(Example of the type of AP Classroom video one would watch)

  • Do the post-video quick quizzes: Coupled with every AP Classroom video is a short quiz that is usually only a few questions long. In spite of their size, these quizzes turn out to be extremely helpful in checking to see if you understood the material, as they focus on only the video you just watched. Another pro tip is that the questions from these quick quizzes, just like the questions in the videos themselves, are nearly identical (at least in format) to those found in unit tests and even the AP exam.

  • Make Flashcards: While it may painfully obvious to do so, don’t think you’re above making flashcards, especially for a course as vocab-heavy as AP Bio. While writing flashcards by hand allows you to better remember what you’re writing, you can also utilize websites like Quizlet to create flashcards and quiz yourself in various ways online. These flashcards can act as a quick study tool whenever you need to brush up on a specific unit or concept.

(Quizlet can be used as a helpful tool for creating flashcards and quizzing yourself)

  • Attend pre-test review sessions: The afternoon before every unit test, Mr. Castaneda holds a review session in which he goes over all of the topics from that unit and answers any questions that students may have. You should take this time to clarify any misconceptions or weak points that you have, as you don’t want to go into the test uncertain about a topic that could have been cleared up during the review session the day before.

General Tips for AP Bio:

For many students, regular biology is taken during their freshman year, while AP Bio is taken during either their junior or senior year. Given this multi-year gap in studying biology, one might lose a lot of knowledge about the subject and need refreshers. In addition to the space between regular and AP biology, AP Bio goes much deeper into the subject, oftentimes requiring lots of studying in order to fully grasp concepts. Finding a study and memorization method that suits you is the key to success in AP Bio.


ERWC 12, also known as Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum, is a college prep English class that has an emphasis on critical thinking during both reading and writing, allowing students to have a deep understanding of a text to the point that they are able to expand on the topics read. In addition to writing the essays that are core to the curriculum, some ERWC 12 teachers also set some time out of the year to assign students to write their Personal Insight Questions, which are the written portions of the University of California, or UC, applications.

Assignment Name: UC Application Personal Insight Questions Date Assigned: October 9, 2023 Due Date: October 13, 2023

  • Remember that some questions won’t speak to you as much: While there are 8 PIQs to choose from, only 4 of them are the ones you will submit with your applications. The UC system knows this, and so they gave a wide range of questions, some of which will allow you to represent yourself best, while some won’t.

(Directions for the UC Application PIQs from the UC website)

  • Try to be concise: The idea behind the limited 350-word count of the PIQs is that admissions officers want to get the best picture of you in a reasonable amount of time. Thus, don’t add a ton of irrelevant fluff to your essays just for the heck of it, and use the space that you have to let the admissions officers know who you are.

  • Be descriptive: Knowing that you have a word count limit, use your essay space to relay information about yourself in a detailed manner, not just through undescriptive statements of fact. Try to make your essays sound more than a profile and demonstrate how certain aspects of your character affect your actions and impact on others.

(Planning ahead is useful when writing college essays)

  • Plan out what you’re going to write: It’s beneficial for you to format what topics you’re going to write about in advance, giving you ample time to think about these topics and maximizing how descriptive your answers will be. Having a plan ahead of time also gives you time to edit and proofread your essay after writing a rough draft, which is important in making sure you’re only submitting your best work.

General Tips for ERWC 12:

ERWC 12 serves as the last English class that many seniors take. Thus, ERWC 12 teachers know that there are various responsibilities specific to seniors, such as college applications, and are able to tweak the curriculum to help seniors, as seen by giving UC application essays as assignments. Knowing this, don’t be afraid to ask your teachers, even ones that don’t teach ERWC, to help during the college application process and ask them to read over your college essays to make sure they sound like you.


So that concludes the third edition of Study Tips with The Raj. I hope that students who are both in AP Bio or ERWC 12, as well as any seniors writing their college essays this year, can find some valuable knowledge from this edition. Next week I’ll be back with a trio of featured classes where I’ll explain how to get their assignments done. If you have any comments or want to suggest a class to be featured, you can message me on my Instagram “the_raj_man”. But with that, thank you for reading, and this is the Raj signing off.

1 comment

1 Comment

Raja this article is actually quite helpful! I am in AP Biology and can attest that following these tips will only lead to success in the class. It is definitely an in-depth course that requires understanding of many concepts and processes. Because of that, and how time consuming the reading guide can be, I would recommend to skip the flash cards and when vocab words are written in notebooks, it would be of benefit in the long run to just simplify the definitions for better understanding!

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