College is getting more and more competitive each year and the chances that you get everything that you want are lower and lower if you do not put in the work to make yourself competitive in the application process. Biology programs are not unlike others in the fact that they are going to require you to show that you are not just smart, but possess the skills to work with others and the passion to pursue your interests not just in school, but outside. When you are applying to biology programs, here are some tips and tricks to make sure that you are as competitive as you can be.
The first thing that anyone looks at are your grades because they are fairly easy to compare and they are the initial snapshot of your education history. Many of the students that colleges are looking at are going to have similar classes and the grades will show them how committed you are. If you are looking to study biology in college, your classes should reflect that you are interested in biology. AP Biology is not often a requirement, but something that you can elect to take, so you should make sure that you are taking that class and that should be the class where you are trying your hardest to get an A. Although English might not be a class that is top priority for biology students, you should still try to make sure that all of your grades are up to a high standard because it all counts, no matter what major you might want to study.
After grades, test scores are another simple comparative tool for admissions folks to weed through the candidates. The SAT does not have a science section, but the ACT does, so focus on doing well there. The things tested are not typically about biology per se, but it can show an overall aptitude for science. As mentioned, you should take AP Bio and try to get a 5 on that exam to show you are the best person to accept to the program.
Outside of school, you want to look for ways to learn about how biology is actually applied in the real world. The usual way to do that would be to get an entry level job, but you are not really ready for that step yet at this point, so the best bet is to get in somewhere that allows you to learn a lot and see how people act in a professional setting as opposed to academic. This will show how much you are interested in biology and signal to programs that you are one to invest in.
Other than professional interests, finding ways to share your biology interests with your peers outside of school is another way to stand out. This can come from interest groups and clubs or through programs outside of school. In science, the Intel Science Fair is a place where budding scientific minds can present their findings and win great scholarships. It leans more engineering than biology, but that means that there is space to differentiate yourself.