How do I Choose the Best Biochemistry Class?

Brad Cole
Brad Cole

Biochemistry can be one of the most important classes a chemistry student can take. Considered a high level chemistry course in most undergraduate programs, it shows that a student can both apply the rules learned in earlier chemistry classes and also expand their knowledge to reflect new information. Because of this, students should think carefully and choose the best possible biochemistry course that reflects their goals and abilities.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

First, a student should clearly understand the reason he wishes to take a biochemistry class. If the class is required for the degree they are seeking, then the basic parameters regarding which class they should take have already been established for them. If the class is not a degree requirement, then the student might choose to take an easier to pass but less in-depth version, such as a “topics in biochemistry” course rather than a full biochemistry course. If the class is just for fun, then he may want to simply try taking a free version of a biochemistry class, such as following a current class’s online syllabus and online video lectures.

If the student needs the biochemistry class for his degree, he should probably take the course at his current university. Taking the course from his home university will prevent most transfer problems, meaning the course will count towards the desired degree. The student should ask around and try to find which professor best fits his personal preferences: questions like what type of curve does the professor grade on and if the professor provides video lectures and notes online are all questions that should be asked. Websites that rate professors have even been established, and students should consider checking out their prospective teachers prior to enrolling in a class.

The student should also consider what options they wish to take with the class. In some programs, taking a biochemistry lab is optional. If the student does not particularly like biochemistry, then they probably should not take the additional coursework associated with the lab; if, however, they intend to pursue a master’s degree in biochemistry, taking the lab opens up additional options in the future. Sections that have weekly review sessions may also be an option, and should be pursued if group review has proven helpful to the student in the past.

Biochemistry classes can be standalone courses or part of a sequence. Some colleges have general biochemistry courses that offer a quarter- or semester-long overview of biochemistry. These classes are usually designed for chemistry majors that do not intend to pursue a biochemistry master’s degree in the future. Some colleges also have a year-long sequence of biochemistry courses for those that want to enter the field. A student should choose the biochemistry course that satisfies their degree requirement – if both do, the student should choose the course that would most benefit the student’s future career path.

A student may have to take a biochemistry class at a university besides the one he intends to graduate from. If this is the case, he should consult an academic advisor to find out which biochemistry course is most likely to transfer. The course to be taken should probably have the same or more credit hours. It is also usually a good idea to take the course from a college that has an American Chemical Society (ACS)-approved bachelor’s degree program.

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