Introduction to Human Physiology – MOOC

In this post, I give you the best tips to help you complete the Introduction to Human Physiology online course successfully.

It is a great premed course. I absolutely recommend it to all of you who want to pursue medicine.

Would you like to take the course? Your next chance is already in January 2015. 

Below is a copy of my post on the course online forum. 


Hello everyone!

I am writing this post for those of you who couldn’t get a Certificate of Accomplishment this time. Do not get discouraged! You can make it in January! 

Personally, I tried to take this course in January 2014 but I couldn’t keep up with the pace. It can be very challenging for those who don’t have any background in science (myself included). Therefore, I quit at some point.

The second time around I knew better what I was getting into. What did I do differently this time?

1 – Read the lecture notes before the watching the videos. This is already suggested in the course homepage and it is a really good tip. You will understand so much more of what they say.

2 – Is there something that you don’t get? Google it and try to get an idea of what it is about.

3 – Watch the videos. Don’t feel stupid if you need to watch them twice or even 3 times. These 20-30 min videos have more info than some ‘real university’ lectures.

4 – Answer the practice quizzes and ALL the in-video questions. Practice, practice, practice. Focus on understanding the questions that you failed.

5 – Some parts of the material will be very confusing. Especially if you don’t know a thing about biology (myself included). In September, I personally didn’t understand much about the electrochemical gradients and how things can move from one place to another. Calcium channels, ATP, Ribosomes, Vesicles, Peptides… What? No, I didn’t speak much of that language either. Can’t you understand all the little details? Don’t worry. Focus on the big picture. Yes, that implies to memorize some of the stuff without complete understanding it. But you can take care of that later, right?

6 – Insist! Be stubborn and do not give up! Not getting the idea? Go for a walk, take a drink, call your best friend, sing, get the frustration out of your system and come back later. Your brain needs time to digest the new info.

7 – Review everything on the examination day. Go through the most important points and try to explain the content to yourself.

8 – Take the exam ONLY when you feel ready. Why the rush? It’s an online course!

9 – Do your best. Read carefully through the questions and when you have no idea about the correct answer, try to make educated guesses.

10 – Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment!


Here is a link where you can download several books for free:

There are 2 biology books available. If you are a complete beginner, download ‘Concepts of biology’ and read the first 3 chapters before this online course starts. It will make your life so much easier during the first week. I wish I had found out about it before the course started.

Take your time to study some of the biology basics on the side and don’t be too focused on the details. In the end, it’s all about the big picture.

In addition, I want to take the chance to express my gratitude to the teachers and TA’s who put a lot of effort into this MOOC. Thank you very much! You guys rock!

I would love to join in January. I hope you guys can make things exciting for those who have already taken the course as well. 

Enjoy your weekend! 

P.S. = I used the Pomodoro technique in order to study more efficiently. The workload of this online course was equivalent to about 90 Pomodoros (including examinations). I actually used some more time reading about biology basic concepts. Up to 20  Pomodoros more. But if you read those 3 chapters I told you, you won’t need as much time on top of this course. 

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