A beginner's guide to successful labs

Labs are a great way to apply what you learn in lectures. They provide you an opportunity to see a physical example, like muscles in an anatomy lab or a demonstration of a reactions that you learn in chemistry. Where else are you going to get the opportunity to learn like this?  

Labs take up time in your schedule and you may not be prioritizing the work needed to help you get the most out of the time. Follow these four steps to ensure you're ready for your next lab.

How to prepare for your lab

1. Read the background information on your lab 

Reading the background and theory for the lab in your manual beforehand can help you understand why you are performing the experiment and give you the information you need to interpret the results from your experiment. It can also help you anticipate what you are going to see when forming your hypothesis.  

2. Make sure you understand the procedures 

The procedures in your lab may include a lot of information. You may need to read through them a few times to understand. Preparing a summary of the lab can help with understanding the procedures, allows you to know the steps of the experiment, have any calculations done ahead of time, and move through the instructions efficiently. If you don’t understand something, you will be able to ask your Lab Instructor before getting started. 

3. Prioritize your wellness 

Labs can be long. You want to set yourself up well to be able to maintain concentration throughout. Make sure you have slept well, have had something to eat and are well-hydrated! All of this can help you focus and avoid making mistakes or having to repeat parts of an experiment.  

4. Make notes

Taking notes throughout your lab will give you the information you need to write your post-lab. Make sure to document any changes to the procedure you made, what your results were, and make diagrams as necessary.