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How To Pass Anatomy and Physiology? A Study Guide

Dec 27, 2021

If you are here, you are probably wondering how to pass anatomy and physiology with flying colors. In case that is true, you are in luck for today.

Our today’s post focused on how you can get through the anatomy and physiology course as a college student. Along with finding details about “what is anatomy and physiology,” and the “what is the difference between the two,” the post also has information about what it looks like in college. Also, the important component of today’s post is our top-rated study tips on how to succeed in anatomy and physiology class in college.
Let the scrolling begin!


What are Anatomy and Physiology?

Before moving on to the tips and tricks to ace Anatomy in College, let us first begin with telling you all what these actually are. We will first define anatomy and physiology. For those who are not aware, the former is the science of the structure of the body. This definition of anatomy is as per Ronan O’Rahilly, M.D., and his colleagues from Dartmouth Medical School.

You can find this definition in their publication that is called Basic Human Anatomy. In the same, they also quote Jean Fernel who is a famous French physician. As per him, you can relate anatomy to physiology as you do geography to history. In fact, many believe that it was actually Jean Fernel who came up with the term, Physiology, as well.


According to him, if you set the five parts of a complete Medicine in proper order, physiology will always come first. This was his definition for the term. He also said that physiology is concerned with the nature of a whole healthy human with all the functions and powers. For instance, if you look at the human digestive system, let us tell you how you can define the two terms.

In this case, anatomy here is the different parts of the digestive system like the stomach. Physiology, on the other hand, is how this entire system works. After knowing what Anatomy and Physiology are, let us move on to the next thing that many students wonder about – what is the difference between anatomy and physiology? Read ahead to find out!


Difference Between Anatomy and Physiology

For mastering anatomy and physiology, it is important that you know the basic things about the terms first. These two are actually biology disciplines that are related to each other. Due to this, numerous schools and colleges teach them together, and not separately. Due to this, it sometimes becomes challenging to differentiate between the two for some students.

In simple words, you can define anatomy as a study of body parts, and their structure and identity. Physiology, on the other hand, can be known as the study of how these body parts work and are related to each other. Further, when it comes to Anatomy, this branch of science is related to the field of morphology.


The latter covers the appearance of an organism – both internal and external. For example, their shape, size, pattern, etc. Also, it includes topics like the form and location of external and internal structures which is Anatomy. Some examples of these are bones and organs in the body of an organism. Anatomy can further be macroscopic and microscopic.

The former is also called gross anatomy and it is the study of the body as a whole. In simple words, it covers the identification and description of those body parts that you can see with the naked eye. For the parts that can only be observed under a microscope (like cellular structures), the study is microscopic anatomy.


Now, when it comes to Physiology, one thing you need to know is that in order to understand it, you need to be acquainted with anatomy. It is because the location of cells, tissues, and organs of the body, have a role in the functions of these. Therefore, while Anatomy and Physiology are different in definition, they need to be studied together.

In fact, if you wish to know how to pass anatomy and physiology in college, the key is to cover the anatomy section first in order to understand the latter better. Another difference that you can notice while studying Anatomy and Physiology is the labs you work in. For the former, living specimens and tissues are used.


Also, you may have to perform experiments to determine the reaction of cells or various systems (excretory, reproductive, digestive, etc.) to any change. On the other hand, for anatomy, the lab class is mainly concerned with dissection. Now, after all these details about anatomy and physiology, let us find out how studying it in college is going to be for you.

Studying Anatomy and Physiology Course in College

Be it college biology, bio for pre-med, or for pre-vet students, there is often an Anatomy and Physiology course for all of them. For the anatomy portion of the course, students generally have to examine homologous and analogous structures. They need to do so for a variety of living organisms that can range from fish and sharks to frogs and rats.


While earlier, dissections were a great part of the course, they are recently being reduced. Instead, they are replaced by interactive computer programs. So, instead of performing dissections, most students now see virtual dissections. When it comes to the Physiology part of the course, it may be either human physiology or comparative physiology. The former is usually true for med school.

Typically, an Anatomy and Physiology course may have the following course content:
● General Biology
● Honors General Biology
● Concepts of Biology
● Ecology and Environmental Conservation
● Microbiology for the Health Sciences
● Anatomy and Physiology for Pre-Hospital Healthcare
● Human Anatomy and Physiology
● General Botany
● General Zoology
● Vertebrate Anatomy
● Vertebrate Physiology
● Anatomy and Physiology I
● Anatomy and Physiology II
● Microbiology
● Pathophysiology
Please keep in mind that this is a general overview of what you can expect for an Anatomy and Physiology course. Depending on the college you choose for your degree, the course content may vary. Also, usually for most of the schools and colleges, the academic year follows a semester-by-semester plan for full-time students. However, this too might be different depending on the policies of the college you choose.

Another thing that you need to know is that while you can take Anatomy and Physiology as a single course, it is also possible to specialize in either of the fields. Typically, a degree program in Anatomy may have courses like microanatomy, physiology, embryology, gross anatomy, and neurobiology. Further, a degree specialized in only Physiology may include courses like cell biology, exercise physiology, molecular biology, and genetics.

Why Is the Anatomy and Physiology Course So Hard for Students?

In a class of students, you can find a variety of interests, intelligence types, and learning styles. As a result, the reaction of students towards Anatomy and Physiology is different. For instance, if you are really interested in the subject, you may find it easy. Further, there are students who may not be much interested in the subject, but for them, Anatomy and Physiology are easy naturally.

However, at the same time, there can be numerous students who find the course extremely difficult to deal with. If you are among the latter, have you wondered why the subject is so hard for you? Typically, we think that human Anatomy and Physiology is tough as it is a combination of information that you need to understand as well as remember.

Therefore, for some parts, you need to be good at understanding things faster, and for some, you should be able to memorize things well. The memorizing part is pretty important, especially when it comes to various Latin and Greek-based terms used in the course. That being said, it is not impossible to get a good grade in the class. You only need to know the right tricks for it.

What is Harder Anatomy or Physiology?

Have you ever wondered which out of the two parts of the course is harder – Anatomy or Physiology? If yes, now is the time you get your answer. While it may take some time to fully grasp both the parts of the course, numerous students think Anatomy is harder. It is because this one requires you to memorize numerous difficult terms.

That being said, if you are good at memorization, you may think that Physiology is harder. It is because this part of the course requires actual understanding. Here, you cannot jug mug up things. However, if you are good at both, Anatomy and Physiology may not be difficult for you at all. In simple words, which out of Anatomy and Physiology is harder, will depend on your learning style.

Study Tips for Anatomy and Physiology Students

After this, let us get into the most important part of today’s post – how to pass anatomy and physiology class? If you have ever wondered about the best way to tackle anatomy and physiology and come out successful after the exams, you are in luck for today. To start with, if you have a good memory, it would really help you to perform well in the class.

However, if that is not the case, do not lose hope. With some advanced planning and expert study tips, even someone who complains about not remembering things well on exam day can ace their anatomy and physiology class. Without any more delay, let us introduce you to the best study tips to ensure success in anatomy and physiology. You can even use these tips for your other classes. Have a look:

Study Tip 1: Always Make It a Point to Jot Down Important Things in Your Own Words
This study tip is quite simple. However, not many students practice it regularly or at all. All they do is just underline and highlight important points in their books and guides. While doing so is a great idea. Do not just stop at it. When you are done with reading and marking important points, take out a notebook.

Use it to write everything you just read. Make sure to do so in your own words. When you pen down things in your own words and create your own analogies, there is no way you will forget anything. In place of writing, you can type, as well. Further, since anatomy and physiology have a lot of diagrams, make sure to draw and practice them, as well.

The next thing you can do is write your reflections. Whenever you attempt a practice test, make a note of all the questions you get wrong for the test. Then write down what mistakes you made and how you can correct them the next time. Doing so will again ensure you remember the right solution to the question, and not repeat your mistake.

Study Tip 2: Make Use of Mnemonics and Flash Cards to Gain Better Knowledge in The Subject
By now, you know that a major part of the anatomy and physiology course is memorizing functions, processes, definitions, and a list of terms. If you are good at memorizing stuff, doing so might not be an issue for you. However, if you are not, you ought to find ways to remember things. Let us help you out with that.

The first thing you can do is make use of flashcards. Make them either the traditional way or download a phone application that has them. You can use these to memorize difficult terms on the go. Alternatively, you can create an acronym for the process you want to learn. For it, simply take the first letter of the word from the list, and form a word.

For this, make sure to remember what each alphabet denotes. You can also step beyond the acronym and use a mnemonic device. Here, you can find a database of almost all the terms in the subject. Use it to learn things whenever you can, and thereby gain better knowledge in the anatomy and physiology class.

Study Tip 3: Try to Find Your Learning Style
Just like when it comes to fashion, each person has their own sense of style when it comes to learning, as well. A single learning style does not fit the entire student population. Therefore, to get the most out of the time you set aside for studying, you must figure out what your learning style is. Once you know it, you can alter your study habits according to it.
So, if you do not know yet, determine your study style. Some most common ones are:
● VARK/Visual learning style: learning by seeing
● Aural learning style: learning by hearing
● Reading/Writing learning style: learning by reading and writing
● Kinesthetic learning style: learning by touching, holding, or feeling

While it is okay to have one of these learning styles, it is okay if your style is a combination of the two, or even three. It is not necessary that you need to define your learning style under a particular category. Just make sure to follow whatever suits you. For instance, if you learn by seeing and then like to write it down in your own words, do it!

Study Tip 4: Dust Off Your Foreign Language Learning Skills
As an anatomy and physiology course student, you may have often come across several words and thought about the idiom – “It’s all Greek to me.” Well, it is not completely false. The subject does have a lot of words that have Greek and Latin origin.

So, if you know these foreign languages a bit, dust off your basic vocabulary of medical terminology skills in them. It will help you learn things better. That being said, if are new to the language, you do not need to learn it all together. In such a case, the best you can do is simply memorize the terms.

Study Tip 5: Try to Connect with Concepts
This is a mistake that numerous students make time and again. While a good part of the anatomy and physiology course is about memorizing things, a lot of it involves understanding concepts, as well. Further, most of the concepts you learn are interconnected. Thus, to understand one, you need to know the other you previously studied about.

Therefore, rather than mugging up these concepts, make it a point to actually understand them and how they work. An example of this is the concept of metabolism. It is sure to pop up at a lot of places in the course. So, make sure when you study it, you understand it well. This way, whenever you come across it again, you will not have to look up what it means.

Study Tip 6: Join a Study Group or Form It
The next thing you can do to pass anatomy and physiology is to join or form a study group. If you are lucky, someone in your class may already be running the group. Ask them if you can join it. In case there is no such group, you can always take the initiative to form it. After all, all the members in the group can prove to be beneficial for filling up gaps in each other’s knowledge.

Further, it also makes studying easier and more fun. That being said, make sure your group has a regular study session rather than a late-night cramming session before any test. The best way you can take advantage of the group is by having a weekly study session where you can go over lectures and readings for that entire week.

Study Tip 7: Prepare an Outline of What You Read
Another great study tip you can follow to ace your anatomy and physiology course is making an outline. It is common for students to go through a chapter before the lecture. As you read through it, make an outline of whatever you read.

While doing so, leave out space between subheadings. Then, when the lecture starts, fill these spaces with whatever you learn. This way, you will not only learn well but also prepare organized notes for future use.

Study Tip 8: Always Put in Time to Practice
One study tip that you cannot emphasize enough is the power of practicing things. Be it to pass anatomy and physiology or any other college class, the best you can do is practice, practice, practice! You do not have to do it the boring way. Instead, be creative, and make use of practice tests, mnemonic drills, and flashcards.

Study Tip 9: Study Independently Too
While you may have a study group that meets once or twice a week, just studying that much is not enough. You need to study independently too. For it, take out 2-3 hours each day after your classes. During this time, sit down in a quiet corner and complete any homework and assignment. Also, never forget to review your class notes.

After you are done with all this, take out time to work on additional practice questions in your textbook. If you are at the end of your semester, you can even take up practice tests. If you do so religiously for the entire semester, you are sure to be prepared for your final exam, and can easily ace the anatomy and physiology class.

Study Tip 10: Always Review Your Mistakes
While you solve practice tests or additional practice questions in your textbooks, make sure to check if you get any of them wrong. In case you do, try to understand at what step you made the mistake. Also, go through the correct answers, and make sure not to repeat the mistake next time.

Final Thoughts

Along with following all these study tips to pass anatomy and physiology with flying colors, make sure to go to every class of the semester too. Chances are, you will be able to cover almost all the important concepts here. While attending the classes, pay complete attention to whatever is taught, and do not forget to take notes. Also, if needed, do not hesitate from taking up tutoring. All the best!



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