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Table of Contents

1. What is Anatomy and Physiology?

a. Definition of anatomy

b. Definition of physiology

c. The difference between the two.

2. What do Anatomy and Physiology classes entail?

a. Description of an anatomy course

i. List of areas covered in anatomy classes

b. Description of a physiology course

i. List of areas covered in physiology classes

3. Who needs Anatomy and Physiology courses?

a. A list of all the occupations and degrees that require at least one anatomy

and physiology class.

b. Reasons why anatomy and physiology is important for so many career


4. Why is anatomy and physiology so hard to pass?

a. Reasons that anatomy classes are so difficult.

5. Study tips for passing anatomy and physiology classes.

a. Charts and graphs

b. Study groups

c. Supplemental books

d. Online sources of information

e. Tutors


Materials you can purchase to make anatomy and physiology easier

a. E-books

b. Charts and graphs

c. Labels

d. Private study areas

e. Online courses

f. Models

7. Memorization techniques

a. Songs

b. Stories

c. Color coding

d. Note taking

e. Labels

f. Numbers

8. Conclusion: Making the most of your anatomy and physiology classes.

What is Anatomy and Physiology?

If you are like most of the medical students looking at your first round of medical

education courses, you most likely see a long class title called Human Anatomy and

Physiology, or something along those lines. Sounds a bit intimidating, right? It should.

This is a beast of a class and it is very hard to pass the first time around. The first step

to having a successful time in your anatomy and physiology classes (oh yes- that is

plural! There will be more than one for you) is to know what it really means.

According to, the definition of ‘Anatomy’ is as follows:

-m )

a·nat·o·my ( -n t n. pl. a·nat·o·mies

1. The bodily structure of a plant or an animal or of any of its parts.

2. The science of the shape and structure of organisms and their parts.

3. A treatise on anatomic science.

4. Dissection of a plant or animal to study the structure, position, and interrelation of its

various parts.

5. A skeleton.

6. The human body.

7. A detailed examination or analysis

A simpler definition would simply be to say that when you study anatomy, you are studying the basic structures of an organism. That means that Human Anatomy will require you to study the basic structures of the human body.

According to, the definition of ‘Physiology’ is as


phys·i·ol·o·gy (f z - l -j )
phys·i·ol·o·gy (f z



The biological study of the functions of living organisms and their parts.


All the functions of a living organism or any of its parts.

A simpler definition of this would be that physiology is the study of the functions

of an organism. Studying Human Physiology will be the study of the functions that

make the human body work and thrive.

These definitions seem similar, and in some ways I suppose they are. For the

most part, however, anatomy and physiology are two very different, although connected

fields of study. Anatomy focuses on the structures that make up a body. The static bits

and pieces that make the body what it is. Physiology focuses on the functions that

make all those pieces of anatomy move and thrive. It covers the movement and

balance and chemical reactions that put life into all the bits and pieces of the anatomy.

What do Anatomy and Physiology Classes Entail?

Now that you know what anatomy and physiology is, you are probably still

wondering what in the world a human anatomy and physiology class will involve. Those

definitions, while true and detailed, are still fairly vague. The structures and functions of

a human body? There are a lot of those aren’t there? Yup! Lots and lots.

Most educational facilities have broken up the study of human anatomy and

physiology by having classes or units that focus on specific portions of the structures

(anatomy) and functions (physiology) of the human body. Here are just some of those

units and sections with a brief synopsis of what they will include:

1. Anatomical Organization- This introductory unit will usually cover the basic

terminology that will be used and the main body planes that you will need

to know in order to traverse all the following units.

2. Cells- This will be a much more though study than what you had in High

School Biology. You will learn all the different parts that make up a living

cell, and you will have to be able to identify different kinds of cells.

3. Integumentary System- That’s the skin folks. This is a very harsh unit as it

will go quickly, and there will be a lot for you to internalize.

4. Skeletal System- Them bones, them bones! This unit will cover the

names and layout of the human skeleton.

5. Muscular System- If you thought the skeleton system was hard, then put

on your seatbelt, because the muscular system is going to be a rough



The Nervous System- This unit will cover all the nerves in the body and

how they connect with each other. This unit is a perfect example of how

anatomy and physiology are two different facets of study that rely heavily

upon each other.

7. Hematology- Blood. You will learn about blood cells, where they travel,

how they keep the body alive, and many other different features of this

VERY important facet of anatomy and physiology study.

There are of course, some college courses that will combine a few of these units,

and others that have it separated out even more. However your personal human

anatomy and physiology class is structured, you will need to master all of the

aforementioned information if you desire to pass the course.

Who Needs Anatomy and Physiology Classes?

Why are anatomy and physiology classes so important? Well, it is simply

because there are a number of careers and educational paths that need the information

from anatomy classes as the foundation and bedrock of the rest of the career. Here is a

list of just some of the majors and careers that will need anatomy and physiology

classes and why:

1. Doctors- this one is obvious, but still important. Anyone who wants to be a

doctor MUST know how the human body is built and how it functions.

2. Nurses- Sometimes nurses have the reputation of giving sponge baths and

changing bedpans, but the truth is their duties encompass much more than that,

and they need a working knowledge of human physiology and anatomy in order

to be successful.

3. Veterinarians- I know what you are thinking- vets need to know about animal

anatomy and not human anatomy. Almost every veterinary school, however,

starts with some anatomy and physiology classes.

4. Researchers and Scientists- Almost all research and science careers require a

good foundation of anatomical knowledge.

5. Teachers and Professors- If you want to teach anatomy, you will have to know at

least a little but about it.

6. Pharmacists- Even though pharmacists only give out what doctors tell them to,

they still have to have at least a basic knowledge of human anatomy and



Therapists- This includes psychiatrists and even some counselors. While most

of their study will center around the nervous system, they will still have to take a

few basic anatomy classes before they get to their specialized classes.

8. Medical Assistants- These careers do not require as much in depth knowledge,

but anatomy and physiology classes make up a HUGE portion of the class load

for medical assistants.

9. Dentists- Believe it or not, dentists need a lot of anatomical knowledge in order to

be successful.

10. Massage Therapists- It would be hard to rub out the tension in muscles without

knowing what they are, where they are, and how they react to certain

medications and massages.

11. Physical Therapists- This is closely related to massage therapists, but more

important. Physical and Sports Therapists have to have detailed knowledge of

human anatomy and physiology in order to fix what went wrong.

There are many, many, MANY more fields of study and career paths that need a

foundation of physiological mastering. That is why it is so important to successfully

pass these classes, and more importantly, internalize all that information.

Why is Anatomy and Physiology so Hard to Pass?

Anatomy and physiology classes have garnered a reputation over the years as being

hard to pass. This reputation is largely based on the statistics of students who end up

quitting their medical aspirations and changing their majors shortly after attempting and

failing their first anatomy course.

These classes are rough and brutal on the students because there is a literal

mountain of information that not only has to be memorized, but internalized in a way

that will allow them to recall it when it is most needed.

Another reason that anatomy and physiology classes are so hard to pass is that the

tests are purposely made to confuse and trip up the students. This isn’t so much a plan

to force students out of the program, but to prepare them for the hardships they will face

after they leave the protective bonds of the school and enter the real world of medical

careers. These teachers have the responsibility to groom their students and prepare

them. Making anatomy hard to pass is just one of the ways that anatomy and

physiology teachers do this.

Study Tips for Passing Anatomy and Physiology Courses

While it is true that anatomy and physiology courses are hard to pass, they are

not impossible- as evidenced by the burgeoning amount of medical professionals in the

field. These classes will take a plan of attack that is different from other courses. The

first part is to recognize just how difficult these classes will be. Don’t be in denial about

the difficulty or overly confident about your educational finesse. After that, you should

see about using some of these study tips.

Charts and Graphs

These study tools will be invaluable to you in your medical education career.

Your teacher will most likely give you one, but if you are serious about making anatomy

classes easier to pass, then you will want to invest in some more charts.

Try and get a diagram for each particular section of anatomy. Having a specific

chart for each facet of anatomy will make it easier to separate the different items to be

memorized and will make it easier to compartmentalize it all.

Professional charts and graphs can be expensive, but worth it if it helps you pass

the class. If, however, you lack the necessary funds, then you might want to look into

finding some printable charts or photo-copy some of the charts you already have so you

can tailor each copy to the different sections of anatomy.

Study Groups

Even if you feel like you do better while flying solo, it can be VERY helpful to put

together a study group. The best groups will be full of students from your own course

and teacher as you will be able to cover all the information that is pertinent to your

specific class-load. If your professor has not created study groups for you, then take

the initiative and be pro-active. Start a group for yourself. This might even be better as

it will enable you to choose which students you want to study with.

However, if it is not possible to create a group of your class-mates for whatever

reason, that does not mean that a study group is impossible to form, or even unhelpful.

Creating a group full of intelligent individuals with different forms of studying and

different backgrounds can be the key to you being able to pass your anatomy and

physiology classes.

Supplemental Books

It might sound crazy to add more books to the workload of medical students, but

hear me out. There are different styles of learning, and not all textbooks are suited to all

styles of learning. If you are finding that your textbooks for your anatomy and

physiology classes are hard to understand, then it might be time to look into some

supplemental books that better fit your personal learning style.

There are literally countless sources to find these supplemental anatomy and

physiology books. Some of them can be costly and you will have to weigh the cost of

the books with the cost of repeating an anatomy class. Many, however, are not very


Since anatomy doesn’t change from person to person or from class to class, the

information you need for your class will be found in every supplemental book.


might have to search a little bit to find how the units from book to book match up, but all

the information will be there.

The other advantage of supplemental textbooks is that most textbooks include

good appendixes that have diagrams and charts. Since extra diagrams and charts are

the first study tip in this section, that makes this study tip a bit of a double whammy.

Online Sources

This digital age is a GREAT thing for students. The amount of information on the

world wide web is amazing, and the ease of finding the information you want is

increasing every day. Utilize the power of the Google machine, and find all the

supplemental information and study aids you can.

There are lots of different websites all about anatomy and physiology. Many of

these sites will also come with bulletin boards and chat rooms where you can hold

helpful dialog with other students facing the same struggles as you. These students

and teachers can also help you by giving their success stories and the tips they used to

be successful in their own educational spheres.

The downside of this tip is that it can be a bit of a time consumer if you are not

careful and disciplined. Time management is vital when you are carrying a full class

load of classes as challenging as anatomy and physiology.


Almost every educational campus is well stocked with tutors to help students

struggling in their classes. Colleges want to see you succeed as that reflects well on

them. To aid them in this goal, they are willing to provide you with tutors. Many

students see utilizing a tutor as shameful. There is no need for this. If you have tried

these other study tips and still feel like you are floundering, then it may be time to

swallow your pride and seek out the help you need from them.

If your college is not set up to provide you with a tutor, then talk to your teacher.

He will likely know of people willing to tutor you, or may even be willing to tutor you

himself. Successful upper classmen are also a good source of tutors, although they will

likely want to charge you for their services as they, as you well know, have their own full

load of work and study to balance out.

Materials You Can Purchase to Make Anatomy Classes Easier

The starving student stereotype is based on the reality of many college students

having little money to live on. Medical classes like anatomy and physiology are heard

enough to pass without the stress of an added job.

That being said, some extra expenses can relieve the stress of the class loads of

anatomy and physiology courses. This is a list of some extra purchases you can make

to help you along your anatomy class journey.

E-Books: E-Books are some of the best sources of anatomical supplemental

information because they are helpful without breaking your back. They can be

downloaded to any text-reading device like i-pads, kindles, lap-tops, and more.

This makes the information accessible wherever you are without the complication

of carrying around a large and heavy textbook.

Charts and Diagrams: We really cannot emphasize enough how much charts and

graphs can help you along in anatomy and physiology classes. The intensity of

anatomy and physiology classes can be greatly relieved by the mental visual

cues that physiology charts and anatomy diagrams can provide.

Labels: Do yourself a favor and find some creative and flashy labels to add to

your textbook and your diagrams. These labels will help you to add visual cues

to your studies and will enable you to recall that mountain of information much

easier. Make sure the labels you choose are memorable and work well with your

personal learning and studying style.

Private Study Areas: This one might seem a bit extreme, but it can also be the

most helpful. It can be hard to find any places that are private in college,

including your own room. Finding a place you can schedule or rent that will be

used by only you can be very important and can really aid your studying. If

personal space is not available for rent, then try investing in some devices than

make you feel alone like white noise machines, or blinds and separators.

Online Courses: Try investing in some online anatomy and physiology courses.

While you won’t necessarily need the credits, you can very much use the

information and study aids that come along with most online courses. These

online classes are designed to have the students study for and pass their class

with minimal intervention by teachers. This is done by the massive amounts of

information fed to them. If you have the money to spare, see about enrolling in

some of these online courses to get you the information you need.

Models: No, not human models. Medical models. This is especially helpful for

the skeletal and muscular units. Having a tangible model that you can put

together and manipulate can really help you internalize the function and structure

of those parts of anatomy.

There are many other study aids out there that can be purchased to make

anatomy and physiology classes easier. These are just some suggestions. Even if

you are struggling financially, it can be beneficial to weigh the benefits of these study

aids. While it might sound trite, it is true that there are few things as valuable to

invest in as your education.

Memorization Techniques

One of the most important skills you will gain and polish while studying anatomy

and physiology is the skill of memorization. Your success in these challenging courses

will bank heavily on your ability to internalize and recall information. Luck for you, there

are some great methods of memorizing information out there. This section will list just

some of these memorization techniques.


Make a song listing all of the things you have to memorize. Think about the

sting-ray teacher in Finding Nemo. He sang long lists of hard words as his way of

teaching difficult information to his swimming pupils. You can do the same. Put the

terms you have to memorize in order, and sing them to music. This will help you to be

able to find the items you need during a test, and more importantly, during your medical



This is a lot like the song method, but is more suited for tune deaf students.

Create a story full of pneumonic devices to help you internalize all the information.

Make sure the story is memorable, and easily recalled. Fill it with all the internal cues

possible. Writing this story down may very well be more helpful than repetitively writing

out all the terms you have to memorize

Color Coding

Take your graphs, charts, or even notes and color code them according to unit or

system. Adding a splash of color to each set of information to be memorized will give

you a visual cue, and will also help you compartmentalize all the information you have

to internalize for anatomy and physiology classes.

Note Taking

Taking useful notes is a HUGE key to success in anatomy and physiology

classes. Make sure the notes you take are easy to understand and have enough visual

cues to make it easy to recall. Add pictures, bulletin points, colors, glitter, whatever.

Make the notes you take for class work for you. This will only be possible if you will be

able to remember what you wrote in those notes. Your notes from class should work for

your personal learning style. If that means taking the rashly scribbled notes from class

and re-writing them during your study time, then do it.


The usefulness of innovative labels was discussed in the last section, but it

greatly applies here as well. Use colorful notes to help you connect visual cues to

memorized information. This study aid will help you throughout your career, just wait

and see. To this day I associate certain muscle groups with the shiny starfish labels I

placed on my diagram of the muscular system. Do not rely on the label supplied for

you. Make them your own, and make them MEMORABLE!


Numbers work a lot like the labels, but in a more specific sense. When you have

to memorize a certain amount of parts, then it can help to number them. That way you

remember how many are there, and you connect a numeric label to each item. This

memorization technique coupled with good labels and maybe a song can ensure that

you will always be able to recall all that internalized information

There is a vast amount of memorization techniques not included here, and they

can all be useful. The important thing is to make sure the memorization methods you

use work with your personal learning style.

Conclusion: Making the Most of You Anatomy and Physiology Class

Anatomy and physiology classes are hard. That is no joke. It can be brutal to

take on this challenge. Along with being difficult, however, they are important. They

can also be fun. That might seem like a huge claim to make, but it is true. Physiology

and Anatomy classes can be enjoyable. The best way to make them enjoyable is to

prioritize correctly, study effectively, and work hard.

When you finish your anatomy portion of your medical education, you will have a

sense of accomplishment that you won’t feel with any of your other classes. You will

never regret having all of that information, and it will be a boon to you in any career path

you choose.

To learn how to prepare your Human Physiology exams effectively, visit our website:

You can also check our recommended course by clicking here.

We hope you enjoyed this free report and that it will help you prepare your Human

Anatomy exams! :)

Thanks for reading!

The Human Anatomy and Physiology Blog Team