A & P Study Guides Page


How to Survive in Anatomy & Physiology

Studentís who are successful in this class:

bulletTurn in all of their homework. Even small assignments add up quick. Not turning in homework is a sure way to fail.

bulletFollow all of the instructions on the assignments. They go back over the assignment to make sure they have covered all of the requirements.

bulletAttend all lectures and lab. Attendance is worth points so absences hurt your grade. Grades can also be lowered significantly because of absences. In addition, it is easy to get behind in A & P. The material is difficult and just copying the notes will not help you on the test. Make sure that you have a back-up babysitter if your kids are sick and backup transportation. Be prepared for any emergency.

bulletAsk questions. It is always okay to ask a question about what you do not understand.

bulletSpend extra time in the lab and computer room when the rooms are open. You need to spend extra time in both places. Put extra lab time in your weekly schedule. Lisa is a great resource ask her for help

bulletUse the web-site. There are study guides, notes, puzzles, etc. I have spent hundreds of hours assembling the website for a reason

bulletWork in groups. Talking problems out helps but be careful that you do not work on labs together.

bulletDo not give up. Do not take it for granted that you can pass. At the same time do not think that one or two low grades will result in your failing.

Here are some ideas that may help you study for this class.


A). Three-Ring Binder

This makes it easier for you to copy all of your notes. In addition, combined with a hole-punch it allows you to insert computer printouts with your notes. Organizing yourself is essential for you to understand your material. You must keep track of all your notes, handouts, papers, and labs. This can get overwhelming.

B). Calendar & A Daily Planner

You are responsible for turning material in on time. Everyday that an assignment is late the grade drops 5 points. That can be the difference between passing this course and having to repeat it.

C). A Good Medical Dictionary

The vocabulary is difficult being able to look up terms makes the difference between reading the material and understanding it.

D). Study Guides, Anatomy Coloring Book, & Any Other A & P Material That You Can Find.

I write lectures with 3 or 4 books open. Some sources of information are better than others. So surround yourself with material that you can quiz from or study from. We have extra textbooks and AP study material upstairs and webl inks on the web site. Look through them

E). Index Cards

Index cards are a great way to memorize material. Put a bunch on a key ring and take them wherever you go.

F). Colored Pencils

Colored drawings help you to see structures and relationships better. Take your time working on slides and try your hand at drawing structures. This is not an art class the final product does not always matter.


A). The outline of the lecture can be found on the website

Print out the notes from the website, that is what they are there for. Not all of the notes are posted but the outline contains graphics that may help you understand the material. Do not print out all of the notes in the beginning of the semester. Print them out a week at a time. It will help you to keep up particularly if you feel you are falling behind. It amazes me how many people do not bother with the web notes.

B). My lecture is in outline format

I try to keep the outline straight but sometimes I fail. If you are missing a letter or a number in a series tell me. One of us may have skipped something.

C). Every lecture starts with a small review

It allows me to connect the old and new material together, and I think it helps the students stay on track.

D). Lecture Presentation

I try to work with different learning styles.

bulletI cover what is on a slide before it is presented.
bulletI click the information on and I repeat it.
bulletAt which point you need to include it in your notes.
bulletAfter which I may include an analogy or sometime of comparison to help you remember
bulletDo not worry if you do not catch everything I say since I am repeating myself.

E). I cover a lot of material on the sides.

Most of the material on the slides can also be found in the book and the lecture stays close to the slides and the computer notes. However, the computer notes can be slightly out of order if I make a last minute change. DO NOT TRY TO COPY THE LECTURE NOTES WORD FOR WORD. I write slides in complete sentences because it helps me to remember what I want to say, and I think it keeps the lecture more organized. Summarize the slide or just copy the important points.

F). I always ask before I move a slide. Speak up if you need more time.

G). You can ask me to repeat anything that you did not hear

I talk fast and I cover a great deal of material, because there is a great deal of material that needs to be covered. I do not mind repeating something. If you cannot hear because someone is talking please tell me it is to loud where you sit. I will gladly ask the talkers to leave class. No one has the right to make this more difficult for you than what it already is.

H). Ask questions

If you do not understand something there is a good chance 95% of the class does not understand it either. You can ask me to explain specific material or you can ask me a direct question. I will respond in one of several ways:

bulletI will answer right away.
bulletI will ask you to wait a minute because I am going to cover that soon and I do not want to break the rhythm of the lecture.
bulletI will ask you a series of questions so that you can answer your own question.
bulletIn lab I may just tell you to look it up.
bulletI may just tell you I do not know the answer and I need to look it up myself

I will never refer to a question as being stupid.

III). TAKING NOTESóTaking notes is a skill that students need to practice and become good at.

A). Use the web site.

The web site has a basic outline of all of the notes and it contains a large number of graphics and puzzles. It does not always match up identically to the lecture but if you are a slow note taker use the website. Take advantage of this resource. Print out the notes before class and add to them. Also use the website from your book. You have paid for the technical material that goes with the book. Use it

B). Use key words.

You will miss a lot if you try to write every word that I say and that I put up on the screen. Just because I write out complete sentences does not mean that you need to.

C). Use short-hand & symbols

Arrows and & signs save you a lot of time. So do abbreviations like CV for cardiovascular. Just make sure that you write a key so that you do not forget what your symbols mean.

D). Draw pictures & make flow charts

I am not talking about artistic pictures but sometimes a drawing will help you understand and visualize material better

(potassium) K+ŗ in out <-Na+ (sodium)

You can also make a map or a flow chart: Glucose Insulin Š

Simple line drawings will make a major difference.

E). Label & date all notes

There is nothing more depressing that dropping a large number of notes and not knowing how to reorganize them. This is a great time saver.

F). Make a note if you are lost

If you do not understand something in your notes mark it with a question mark and than bring it to me and I will clarify it.

G). Adequately space your notes

Paper is cheap. Leave yourself space to insert material from other sources. It is very difficult to read pages that are crammed with notes.

H). Do not highlight your book the first time through it and do not take your notes exclusively in your textbook during lecture

This practice becomes chaotic during test time. You will tend to mark the unimportant stuff first. If it is important put it in your notes. In addition, people who highlight their books tend to just look over highlighted material and they tend not to connect the material together as well.

IV). Instructor Supported Study Assistance

A). Lecture review

I review the previous lecture material in the beginning of each class. It helps you to fit the new material in.

B). Review sheets & study guides

I give 2 types of review sheets. Study guides on the website function to summarize important material (ie. the anatomy of the muscular system). I also supply review sheets before tests which are also on the website. Many students assume that the questions on the review sheets are the exact questions that are on the tests. That would be silly. The review sheets are to give you a way to review the material. Each question on the review sheet requires a detailed answer if you are to apply that knowledge to the tests. The review sheet should not be your exclusive tool for studying. It should be a guide and nothing else.

C). Office hours

People claim I live in my office. Come and visit I get lonely.

D). Open lab and resource (computer) room

The lab is open on Fridayís come in and work with the models. If asked in advance Lisa or I can remove some of the models from the lab and put them in the computer room. In addition, there are a lot of AP books and videos that you can review. Plan to spend time in both rooms. Schedule it in every week. Lisa is a great resource-ask her for help.

E). The Web-Site www.octc.kctcs.edu/gcaplan

The website is huge and contains links to all kinds of cool things. Take some time and explore it. I actually get hits from all over the world.


Anatomy and Physiology requires 2 different types of learning. The anatomy can be memorized but the physiology flows like a road map and cannot be memorized it has to be understood. Keep this in mind while you study.

A).  Review something every night

I know you have a life and even though 16 weeks seems like forever it is not. If you stop reviewing you will get behind in just a couple of days. Reread your notes, look at the website, or look at the chapter summary. Just do something every night.

B). Find a study group

Most of the students are going into similar professions. Start a study group that may last through your future classes. Knowing that you are not the only one lost and confused is reassuring. Older students with kids can get together for weekends, and have one spouse or family member baby-sit the kids while the group works. In addition, swap phone numbers so that you can get notes or a ride if your car breaks

C). Rewrite your notes

This is not busy work. Rewriting your notes is probably the best thing that you can do. This forces you to go through the material again and reorganize it. You can also add additional book notes or diagrams to your notes. There is something about the physical processes of writing (as oppose to blankly staring at) your notes that helps it get in to your memory better. It also cleans up your notes so that they make more sense. You should rewrite your notes as soon after lecture as you can.

D). Do your reading

I will not assign specific pages, this up to you. You cannot read youíre A& P book like a novel, you will get lost right away. Instead break the chapters up into little subunits and try this approach.

bulletSkim the chapter by reading the headings, and the captions under the diagrams. (It is likely reading the end of the novel)
bulletRead the summary at the end of the chapter. This will help direct you.
bulletRead each section. Add notes from the book to your lecture notes before you highlight the material. Note taking keeps you focused and most people tend to skim over highlighted material.
bulletDo not read the entire chapter at once. You will daze out and forget what you are reading. Learn one section and then move on.
bulletAnswer the Objectives at the beginning of the chapter and the questions at the end of the chapters.

E). Use flash cards

The best way to memorize terms and anatomy is by using note cards. Put them on some type o f king ring so that they do not scatter and carry them with you. Anytime you have a few free minutes flip through them

F). Make flow charts

You cannot memorize all of the physiology. You need to visualize it and see it happening in your mind. You need to approach it differently. Flow charts are the best way. You can even put the factors on post-it-notes on the wall. This way you can move things around when you need to.

i.e.) low glucose --> releases glycogen --> raises glucose

insulin --->lowers glycogen ---> lowers glucose (which raises glycogen)

G). Reread your notes before each class

This will keep you up to date and keeps the material fresh.

H). Use the on-line material that goes with the book

The publisher has a great site designed for your book. It is part of the price you pay for the book. Use it. I have also moved some of their material to BlackBoard. Play with it.

I). Do not put off studying until the last minute

If you are cramming for the test the night before you will not be successful in this class. Do not attempt to take a test or a practical without studying. Many students tell me they studied for 5 hours the night before a test. That is not enough. You need to study some of the material every day

J). Find a quiet corner to do your studying

I know with kids, family, and significant others it seems impossible. Make arrangements with a friend or family member to watch your kids several times a week. You can also plan on spending sometime in the library before or after class. Try turning off the radio and t.v. that will help too.

K). Try to apply this material to your real life or future careers.

I give you both biological and non biological examples for a reason. There is a reason I tell you stories about my family. Apply your hobbies, art people should draw, mechanical people should make models, musical people should make songs and poems, etc.

L). Take pictures

Use a digital camera and the paint program that comes with windows and take pictures of the tissues and models and label them. Take pictures of friends and family and label the regions, bones muscles etc.

M). Ask your friends & family for help

This is anatomy and a living, breathing model works best. Use your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or kids as interactive models.

bulletUse a washable marker on kids to mark muscles, bones, and regions on their arms and legs. They may think this is great and they are helping.
bulletLet family members help you study note cards. You will be surprised at how much little kids pick up.
bulletTry giving little kids a back pack and a science book that they can highlight and they will help you study.

N). Buy sidewalk chalk

Draw cells, tissues, and trace bodies on the sidewalk (kids love this). Label the directions, regions, vessels etc on your body drawings. They do not have to be good but it is a great way to visualize things and it keeps the kids busy.

O). Do anything you can to visualize the processes.

If you cannot see the systems and concepts in your mindís eye you do not understand it. You have to be able to ask yourself "If this happens what happens next"

P). Use the Internet

There are a lot of great sites out there with a lot of information, quizzes, study guides, etc. I have a list on the website but there are more out there.

Q). Find anatomy apps for your smart phone

The iPhone has some great anatomy apps. Look them up and play with them.


I was a student once. I can help you. I gave you my number for a reason. The people that come in and talk to me tend to do much better. Do not wait until the week before finals before coming in for help. I cannot do anything for you at that point.

Finally, do not panic. This is a difficult class but it is also fascinating and beautiful. Do not worry if by the end of the semester you do not feel like you know everything. Most people that turn in all of their work and do not miss class do better than they think they will and understand much more than believe they do.