How To Write The Ideal VCE Biology Notes

Note writing is a hard thing to get right for VCE biology. It’s a content heavy subject, and it’s tempting to spend the entire year writing the ‘perfect’ notes. Students often spend way too long making their notes pretty, and normally include WAY too much information.

Here are MemBrain’s top tips for the ideal VCE 3/4 Biology notes, that will help you get a 40+ study score. 

Don't aim for perfection

When it comes to writing notes, many students believe that in order for them to score highly in VCE Biology, they must have perfectly written notes, with awesome diagrams and every piece of information the teacher mentions. 

As a tutor, I’ve seen students make biology notes that are so amazing they could be considered a work of art. However, this is in no way correlated to the final study score they receive. Infact, students who spend the least amount of time writing neat notes tend to get higher study scores, as they spend more time doing what’s important: actually understanding the content and completing practice questions. 

Therefore, when writing notes, focus on making them clear to understand, concise, and well organised. Don’t worry if you’ve made some typos, or if you can’t fit everything on the one page. 

VCE notes

These are beautiful, but do not lead to high marks. Credit: STUDYQUILL

VCE biology notes

These notes are just as effective

Tip: If you sign up for MemBrain, we provide you with all the notes you need for the entire VCE 3/4 Biology syllabus. They’re very visually appealing (if we do say so ourselves) and include dozens of diagrams to help you understand the content. 
We do this because we believe your time is better spent doing the study that matters; building a true understanding of the topics, and memorising those pesky processes and definitions. 

Use the VCE Biology study design to organise your notes

Make sure you’ve read through the study design carefully, and annotated it with relevant topics from your notes.

Once you’ve done this, you can structure your notes around the study design. This ensures you’re focusing on the necessary topics, and spending time on areas that are more likely to be on your exam. 

VCE study design

Tip: If you sign up to MemBrain, you will receive a copy of our annotated study design, as well as a note-organising document based off the VCAA study design. 

Keep to the VCE level of detail

When looking at YouTube videos and even your textbook, there’s often way too much detail given.

For example, when learning about cellular respiration, some videos and textbooks teach you the mechanisms of each individual step.
For VCE 3/4 Biology, all you need to know is the inputs, outputs and locations of each stage.

If you’re unsure what level of detail is required, ask your teacher. 
If you don’t need to know it – don’t include it in your notes. It will just make your life harder.

Use dot points

Try to avoid using full sentences in your notes: they have a lot of unnecessary filler words that shifts your attention. Full sentences also make it much harder to find what you need in your notes. 

Stick to the important steps and concepts by writing everything as concise dot points. 

Use visuals

Diagrams and illustrations are really useful for VCE 3/4 Biology. They help you visualise what is happening within the cell, and help you recall detail when in a SAC or exam. 

Here are some ideas based on MemBrain’s study notes:

  • Labelled diagrams of molecules like nucleotides, the plasma membrane, the chloroplast, antibodies, etc.
  • Tables for inputs and outputs of photosynthesis and cellular respiration.
  • Images to accompany your step-by-step processes for transcription, translation and natural selection. 

But remember, they don’t have to be works of art. As long as they’re easy to understand, then they’ll be beneficial. 
Don’t spend hours trying to make them look amazing. 

enzymes

Example of MemBrain’s diagrams

VCE biology notes diagrams

Example of MemBrain’s diagrams

Summarise!

This step is so important for VCE biology. There is so much information that your teachers will cover, yet it’s the same few points of each module that are on most exams. 

Make cheat sheets by summarising everything from that module on to an A4 piece of paper. Make a photocopy, so you can stick one on your bedroom wall, and place the other in your VCE Biology binder. 

Here is one of MemBrain’s 15+ cheat sheets for some inspo. 

VCE Biology cheat sheet

Happy studying! Send us pictures of your study notes via our Instagram page. We would love to see them! 

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