Tips How To Be Successful in Biochemistry

Biochemistry is a very difficult class overall, but do not let a difficult class deter you from being successful.  After finishing 2 semesters of biochemistry, this is what I wish I knew before I took these classes. Lets break biochemistry down into a few steps:

  1. Know the Basics
    • Breaking down and understanding the basic concepts of biochemistry is going to help you succeed in biochemistry 2 later on.  Biochemistry 2 is all about pathways and knowing what they are and how they react with eachother.  I must say each school is different but knowing the basics helps out so much.
  2. Study Ahead of time
    • This is one of the classes if you have the time, take the time out and just study over break. You learn so much material over a short period of time this is why it was so hard to grasp. I must say this helped me out so much.
      • Biochemistry 1 things you should know:
        • Understanding the Roles and Properties of Water
        •  Knowing the difference between acids and bases
        • Having a full understanding of pH and Buffers (This is key for being a great biochemist, fully understanding  and knowing how to use pH and creating and using buffers)
          • Keep in mind about controlling pH with buffers
          • Know these formulas:
          • Find pH 
            • pH=-log [H+]
            • pH=-log (1.0X10^-7)=7.0
          • Calculating the pOH
            • [OH]=Kw/[H+]
            • 14.00=pKw=-logKw=-log1.0x10^-14 in aqueous solution
          • Review over the Lewis Bronsted Acid-Base Theory (This should be a review from general chemistry)
          • Formulas To Review:
            • Ka=[H+][CB]/[CA]
            • Kb=[OH][CA]/[CB]
            • pKa=-logKa
          • Look Over Buffers:
            • Formulas To Review:
              • pH=pKa+log [CB]/[CA]
              • pOH=pKb+log [CA]/[CB]
          • Reviewing Over Some Of Organic Chemistry
            • Reviewing over Reactions of Functional Groups and how Acid-Base Properties affect functional groups
              • Alcohols
              • Carboxylic Acids
              • Aldehydes and Ketones
              • ect
        • Know all of the 20 Essential amino acids:
          • Know what group they classify in such as positivity charged R groups, negativity charged R groups, nonpolar groups aromatic R groups, nonpolar aliphatic groups and polar uncharged R groups,
          • Know how to draw there structures
          • pH and Isoelectric points
          • If you are able to separate each group and memorize how to draw them you are in good shape.  There are multiple charts you can use to help you learn each one.  I picked 4 a day and reviewed everyday until I knew all 20.
        • Know how to classify the proteins 
          • The best way to do this is to know examples of each function of the protein. There are 2 types of categories proteins fall under, its either Fibrous protein or globular protein.  Then think about its structure and were it is found such as skin and bone are fibrous protein and they contain collagen.  There are many different types and separate by each category.
            • Knowing All structures of the protein from Primary structures to Quaternary structure is key.
          • Reviewing Over Enzyme Kinetics:
            • Enzymes kinetics is dealing with different types of  enzymes such as Oxidoreductases,Lyases and Isomerases and many more.  This deals with the classification of enzymes.
            • Look over:
              • Fischer’s lock and Key Model (this is a good model to start understanding enzymes with substrates but eventually you will realize this is not ideal)
              • Induced Fit Model (this model is more ideal)
                • Based off of my experiences I realized this is true.  
        • Review Over Basic Chemistry
          • Know and completely understand how to make a buffer and how they work
        • Review over:
          • Carbohydrates
          • Lipids
          • Nucleic acids
        • These are the basics of biochemistry 1 and I went through my notebook to pick out what I though was important.  Some material I left out because if you are proactive teaching your self to stay ahead there are some topics that I think you would need your professor to explain in more detail.  If you would like to know what I left out, follow the playlist with Kevin Ahern’s Biochemistry one.
        • Biochemistry 2
          • Biochemistry 2 deals with Biochemical Pathways
            • Each pathway know the enzymes and the products.  Also keep in mind what if it is an irreversible reaction and why is it?  This will be important later on.
              • Important pathways to Know:
                • Glycolysis
                • Gluconeogenesis (is somewhat the reverse of glycolysis but there are some different things that it is in glycolysis.  I do not want to say to much until, you understand these 2 pathways you will find out more. I do not want to confuse anyone)
                • Citric Acid Cycle
                • Synthesis of Acetyl-CoA
                • Fatty Acid synthesis
                • Urea Cycle
                • Electron Transport Chain
              • There are so many pathways, I feel that these are the most important.  Almost each class we had to recite one of these pathways.  If you know these basic pathways you will see how they all go back to one another.  This is the basics of learning pathways because the next step is to learn what to do if an enzyme was inhibited.
  3. Finding The Right Way To Study
    • I must say during the first parts of the biochemistry, I had a hard time studying for this class because the book was overwhelming .  I felt defeated .  I must say the instructor that I had who taught the class was very organized and just wanted us to know the basics.  He told us what we had to know.  That was the only thing I had going for me, was to find other resources that was not overwhelming for me. I used videos on youtube and their notes.  I also used the notes my professor provided and the book for practicing problems.  Here are some recommendations:
      • Kevin Ahern
        • I can not tell you enough how much this man has helped me through the semesters.  He has his lectures on youtube so you can follow through during your own pace.  He has his lecture materials such as outlines, diagrams and so much more on his website. If you have time to review over break this is the man to go to. If you are studying ahead, follow his syllabus that he has online so you can kind of get a feel what it is like when you start your classes.  I found out for my classes they followed really close with my classes.  There were a few things that we did not discuss that he talked about but it helped knowing.
        • I feel like Dr.Ahern is a great foundation for giving you a guide where to go next.  The next two individuals are great people to look at more in detail for a subject that you do not understand.
      • AK Lectures
        • This is a must, when you first start biochemistry to review over things.  He is such a good teacher. If you are unsure of anything and need it broken down to fully understand, this is the go to man.  He also helps review over the basic things so you have a full understanding of anything going on.
        • If you follow his playlist on youtube they go hand in hand with everything you need to know more ideal in each one.
      • Shomu Biology
        • This man is wonderful explaining things in great detail what ever AK lectures doesn’t cover.


  • I am not affiliated with any of the people I mentioned above.  They are my personal option of one of the best self help teachers to review and help have a better understanding of biochemistry


Most Importantly :

  1. Making Time to Study
    • The most important thing is making sure you have enough time to study overall. Making a time everyday to review over biochemistry.  I know it is hard to do with a full course load, but making sure you can grasp all concepts and having more time to study is beneficial.  This will help when it comes down to exam time, you just have to review over everything vs cramming everything overnight.
    • I found out some professors, do not want just the information but being to apply the key concepts to application. This is where my book may come in handy. If your professor provides practice problems for you. DO THEM!!  They can pull from practice problems  or use similar concepts and examples on the exam.
  2. Making Sure You Can Just Focus 
    • We all know life happens and we all have challenges that come our way.  The key of doing well is trying to stay away from working a lot so you can focus on school. 20 hours or less is what I recommend.  I worked during school but I cut back so I could focus. The end goal here is to work hard now, so you do not have to work hard later. You do not want to retake classes that you could have did well in because you had to work all the time.  I know we all have to work and having a little extra cash is nice but if you can try to cut back if your can.  We are not just taking Biochemistry most likely we are taking other classes as well.  This is why it is so important to try to study ahead if you can.

Overall, I really hope my words of wisdom can help you feel little at ease when taking biochemistry.  Trying to stay consistent studying and staying ahead is key.  Sometimes it is hard to stay focused but you got this.  Let me know what you think or if any of these resources has helped you in the comments below.

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Have Fun Studying




All options are my own.  I am just trying to give advice based on my experiences.  I am not a professor.

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