Life Science
University Preparation
e-Prep Course

Biology - Life Science
Life Science is one of the ten special-designed ePrep courses by NTU to help NSFs, NSMen, and others to better prepare for their university studies, whether in the local universities in Singapore or foreign universities.
This Life Science ePrep course is developed in collaboration with the textbook publishers, Cengage, and is based on the popular textbook “Biology: Concepts and Applications” by Cecil Starr, CA Evers, and Lisa Starr, currently in its 10th edition. A hard copy of the textbook is provided to every student at no additional cost, and it also comes with excellent learning materials on life science provided by the textbook publishers. Due to time constraints, the focus of this Life Science ePrep course is on Genetics for the purpose of certification. However, materials on all the remaining 39 chapters are also provided.
To help the students to have a more complete academic preparation for their university studies, there are also lots of materials on other subjects such as physics, calculus, statistics, and other branches of mathematics, business finance, corporate finance, engineering economy, business ethics, engineering ethics, psychology, Python programming, etc., so that the students not only get to build up a strong foundation on life science, they also get to strengthen their knowledge on many other subjects as well.  Samples of the materials on life science and other subjects provided can be found below.  Most of these materials can be downloaded for later studies.
There is also a retired NTU professor acting as the tutor. He can be reached via email or WhatsApp messaging, not only during the course but beyond till the students start their university studies and have their own university tutors, and even beyond when the students require more assistance, not just regarding their academic learning, but on careers and other matters as well.

Life Science ePrep Course – Main Contents

I. Compulsory Chapters

1 DNA Structure and Function

1 The Discovery of DNA’s Function

1.1 Describe the four properties required of any genetic material.

1.2 Summarize the classic experiments of Griffith, Avery, and Hershey and Chase that demonstrated DNA is genetic material.

2 Discovery of DNA’s Structure

2.1 Summarize the events that led to the discovery of DNA’s structure.

2.2 Identify the subunits of DNA and how they combine in a DNA molecule.

2.3 Explain how DNA holds information.

2.4 Describe base pairing.

3 Eukaryotic Chromosomes

3.1 Describe the way DNA is organized in a chromosome.

3.2 Explain how a eukaryotic cell’s chromosomes carry its genetic information.

3.3 Explain the meaning of diploid.

3.4 Distinguish between autosomes and sex chromosomes.

4 How Does a Cell Copy Its DNA?

4.1 State the purpose of DNA replication and describe the process.

4.2 Explain the role of primers in DNA replication.

4.3 Describe nucleic acid hybridization.

4.4 Describe semiconservative hybridization.

4.5 Explain why DNA replication proceeds only in the 5′ to 3′ direction.

5 Mutations and Their Causes

5.1 Using examples, explain how mutations can arise.

5.2 Describe two cellular mechanisms that can prevent mutations from occurring.

6 Cloning Adults Animals

6.1 Using a suitable example, explain the process of cloning an adult animal.

6.2 Explain why clones can be produced from a single body cell of an adult.

6.3 Describe the process of differentiation.

2 From DNA to Protein

1 Introducing Gene Expression

1.1 Compare the composition and structure of DNA and RNA.

1.2 Describe the flow of information during the process of gene expression.

2 Transcription: DNA to RNA

2.1 Describe the process of transcription.

2.2 Compare DNA replication with transcription.

2.3 Explain three types of post-transcriptional modifications.

3 RNA and the Genetic Code

3.1 Describe codons and give some examples.

3.2 Explain the signals that start and stop translation.

3.3 Explain how an mRNA specifies the order of amino acids in a polypeptide.

3.4 Summarize the role of rRNA and tRNA in translation.

4 Translation: RNA to Protein

4.1 Explain the roles of mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA in translation.

4.2 Describe the way a polypeptide lengthens during translation.

5 Consequences of Mutations

5.1 Describe three types of mutations.

5.2 Explain how mutations can affect protein structure.

5.3 Using appropriate examples, explain why some mutations are not harmful.

3 Control of Gene Expression

1 How Cells Control Gene Expression

1.1 Explain what is meant by gene expression control.

1.2 Give two reasons why control of gene expression is necessary.

1.3 Describe transcription factors and give some examples of the different types.

1.4 List the points of control over expression of a gene with a protein product.

2 Orchestrating Early Development

2.1 Describe the relationship between master genes and differentiation during embryonic development.

2.2 Explain the function of homeotic genes and give some examples.

2.3 Using an appropriate example, explain how experiments with homeotic genes offer evidence of shared ancestry among species.

 3 Details of Body Form

3.1 Describe a few examples of gene control in eukaryotes.

3.2 Explain why only one X chromosome is active in cells of a female mammal.

 4 Gene Expression in Metabolic Control

4.1 Using the lac operon as an example, describe gene control in bacteria.

4.2 Compare gene expression control in single-celled and multicelled organism.

4.3 Explain why most human adults are lactose intolerant.

5 Epigenetics

5.1 Explain why a DNA methylation is passed to a cell’s descendants.

5.2 List some environmental factors that affect DNA methylation patterns.

5.3 Describe epigenetic modification of DNA and give some examples.

4 How Cells Reproduce

1 Multiplication by Division

1.1 Describe the main events in the eukaryotic cell cycle.

1.2 Explain how mitosis maintains the chromosome number.

1.3 Explain the difference between sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes.

1.4 Identify two body processes that require mitosis.

1.5 Describe the purpose of cell cycle checkpoints.

2 A Closer Look at Mitosis

2.1 List the stages of mitosis in order and the main events that occur during each stage.

2.2 Describe the role of microtubules in mitosis.

2.3 Explain how mitosis packages two sets of chromosomes into two new nuclei.

3 Cytoplasmic Division

3.1 Define cytokinesis and explain why it is necessary.

3.2 Describe and compare cytokinesis in an animal cell and a plant cell.

4 Marking Time with Telomeres

4.1 Illustrate the function of telomeres in cell division.

4.2 Explain why normal body cells are not immortal.

4.3 Describe the fail-safe function of a cell division limit.

5 Pathological Mitosis

5.1 Explain why mutations in growth factor genes can give rise to neoplasms.

5.2 Use an example to describe tumor suppressors.

5.3 Describe the three hallmarks of malignant cells.

5 Meiosis and Sexual Reproduction

1 Why Sex?

1.1 Explain why homologous chromosomes may carry different alleles.

1.2 List the differences between sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction.

1.3 Describe how genetic diversity makes a population more resilient to environmental challenges. 

2 Meiosis in Sexual Reproduction

2.1 Describe the relationship between germ cells and gametes.

2.2 Explain how meiosis reduces the chromosome number, and why this is a necessary part of sexual reproduction. 

3 A Visual Tour of Meiosis

3.1 Explain the steps of meiosis in a diploid (2n) cell.

3.2 Describe the major differences between meiosis I and meiosis II. 

4 How Meiosis Introduces Variations in Traits

4.1 Describe crossing over and how it introduces variation in traits among the offspring of sexual reproducers.

4.2 Explain the random nature of chromosome segregation during gamete formation, and its significance in terms of genetic variation.

5 Mitosis and Meiosis—An Ancestral Connection?

5.1 Describe the similarities and differences between mitosis and meiosis II.

5.2 Support the argument that meiosis might have evolved from mutations in the process of mitosis.

II. Optional Chapters (Not Needed for Certification)

  • The Science of Biology
  • Life’s Chemical Basis
  • Molecules of Life
  • Cell Structure
  • Ground Rules of Metabolism
  • Where It Starts—Photosynthesis
  • Releasing Chemical Energy
  • Patterns in Inherited Traits
  • Human Inheritance
  • Biotechnology
  • Evidence of Evolution
  • Processes of Evolution
  • Life’s Origin and Early Evolution
  • Viruses, Bacteria, and Archaea
  • …See the complete list of Topics and Learning Objectives

What You Get in this Life Science ePrep Course

I. Free Textbook
“Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life” is a very popular textbook on Biology and other Life Sciences, authored by Cecil Starr, R Taggart, CA Evers, and Lisa Starr, 15th Ed.  
II. Free Consultation
A dedicated retired NTU professor is acting as the tutor. You can consult him via email or WhatsApp. A retired professor has a lot more time and energy for you than a full-time professor who has to struggle with heavy teaching and administrative workloads on top of the need to source for research grants and the pressure to perform cutting-edge research.
III. Materials Online
1   Notes, video lessons, and PowerPoint files.
2   Answers/solutions to all questions/problems in the textbook.
3   Online exercises.
4   Bonus learning materials in various branches of mathematics, including calculus, algebra, probability and statistics, as well as on other subjects such as business finance, corporate finance, engineering economy, physics, mechanics, ethics, economics, python programming, and psychology.
IV. Digital Certificate
A digital certificate will be issued if you have completed this NTU Life Science ePrep course and passed all the tests at the end of each of the ten compulsory chapters.

Life Science ePrep Course – Sample Materials

1. Illustrative Video

This video illustrates the translation process whereby a polypeptide chain is assembled from amino acids in the order specified by an mRNA. There are many such video lessons that illustrates the various life science principles and processes.

2. Core Concepts:

All organisms alive today are linked by lines of descent from shared ancestors.

Cells of all multicelled eukaryotes reproduce by mitosis and cytoplasmic division.

Together, these processes are the basis of growth, tissue repair, and asexual reproduction.

Because mitosis links one generation of cells to the next, it is a mechanism by which the continuity of life occurs.

All multicelled organisms use the same molecules to drive and regulate their cell cycle.

Note: This is one of the Core Concepts in the chapter on DNA Structure and Function – for more listing of core concepts in the chapter, see here.

3. Key Terms
  • Bacteriophage: virus that infects bacteria.
  • DNA sequence: order of nucleotides in a strand of DNA.
  • Autosome: a chromosome that is the same in males and females.
  • Centromere: of a duplicated eukaryotic chromosome, constricted region where sister chromatids attach to each other.
  • Chromosome: a structure that consists of DNA and associated proteins; carries part or all of a cell’s genetic information.
  • Chromosome number: the total number of chromosomes in a cell of a given species.
  • Diploid: having two of each type of chromosome characteristic of the species (2n).
  • Histone: type of protein that structurally organizes eukaryotic chromosomes.
  • Karyotype: image of an individual’s set of chromosomes arranged by size, length, shape, and centromere location.
  • Nucleosome: a length of DNA wound twice around a spool of histone proteins.
  • Sex chromosome: member of a pair of chromosomes that differs between males and females.

Note: These are some of the Key Terms in the chapter on DNA Structure and Function – for more listing of key terms in the chapter, see here

4. Critical Thinking Question and Answer

Question

Why are some genes expressed and some not?

Answer:

Some genes are expressed and some are not expressed, because not all gene protein products are needed by all cell types. In other words, a cell regulates its gene expression because it contains too many genes. For example, a brain cell and a liver cell contain the same exact DNA code (as do all the cells found within a multicellular organism); however, a brain cell needs different proteins to function properly than do liver cells. Therefore, to make their unique set of protein products, certain genes are expressed and certain genes are repressed. So, one compromise of being multicellular is that every cell contains every gene the organism needs to live. However, the majority of these genes are not needed by any specific cell at a specific time.

Note: In addition to standard types of questions, there are also many Critical Thinking Questions that encourage greater thinking and deeper understanding.

5. Data Analysis
data analysis in life science eprep course

Answer:

  1. Skin cancer cells had the greatest response to an increase in concentration of the engineered RIPs.
  2. One hundred percent of all the cell types were alive at 10−7 g/l of engineered RIP.
  3. Breast cancer cells showed the greatest survival at 10−6 g/l of engineered RIP.
  4. The engineered RIPs had the least effect on breast cancer cells.

Note: The students also learn to perform Data Analysis which is one of the modern approaches to learning Life Science.

Sample Bonus Materials – Beyond Life Science

1. Video Lecture on Statistics

This short video clip is about the computation of the correlation coefficient, r, between two variables. This is one of the many video lessons on statistics provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn statistics.

2. Cross Word Puzzle Solution on Biotechnology
cross-word puzzle on biotech in life science eprep course
3. Question and Answer on Engineering Economy (Cost Estimation)

Question:

A foreman supervises A, B, and eight other employees. The foreman states that he spends twice as much time supervising A and half as much time supervising B, compared with the average time spent  supervising his other subordinates. All employees have the same production rate. On the basis of equal cost per unit production, what monthly salary is justified for B if the foreman gets $3,800 per month and A gets $3,000 per month?

Answer: 

Let x = average time spent supervising the average employee.

Then the time spent supervising employee A = 2x and the time spent supervising employee B = 0.5x.

The total time units spent by the supervisor is then 2x + 0.5x + (8)x = 10.5x.

The monthly cost of the supervisor is $3,800 and can be allocated among the employees in the following manner: $3,800/10.5x = $361.90 / x time units.

Employee A (when compared to employee B) costs (2x – 0.5x)($361.90/x) = $542.85 more for the same units of production.

If employee B is compensated accordingly, the monthly salary for employee B should be $3,000 + $542.85 = $3,542.85.

Note: This is one of the many questions and answers on engineering economy provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn engineering economy.

4. Video Lessons on Business Finance (Efficient Markets)

This short video lesson discusses the efficient financial markets and the two conditions that must be satisfied for a market to be considered efficient – (1) market at equilibrium with equal number of buyers and sellers and (2) asset traded at intrinsic value as all players have accessed to all the same available information. 
This is one of the many video lessons on business finance provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn business finance.

5. Worked Example on Engineering Economy (Cost Concepts and Design Economics)

Question:

A company produces and sells a consumer product and is able to control the demand for the product by varying the selling price. The approximate relationship between price and demand is

      p=$38 + 2,700/D – 5,000/D2, for D>1,

where p is the price per unit in dollars and D is the demand per month. The company is seeking to maximize its profit. The fixed cost is $1,000 per month and the variable cost (cv) is $40 per unit.

a. What is the number of units that should be produced and sold each month to maximize profit?

b. Show that your answer to Part (a) maximizes profit.

 

Answer:

Note:This is one of the many worked examples on engineering economy provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn engineering economy.

6. Objective Question Exercise on Physics (Energy of a System)

Question:

A certain spring that obeys Hooke’s law is stretched by an external agent. The work done in stretching the spring by 10 cm is 4 J. How much additional work is required to stretch the spring an additional 10 cm?

1.  None

2.   2 J

3.   4 J

4.   8 J

5.   12 J

6.  16 J

Answer (5).

4.00 J = ½ k(0.100 m)2.

Therefore k = 800 N/m and

to stretch the spring to 0.200 m requires extra work: ΔW = ½ (800)(0.200)2 − 4.00 J = 12.0 J.

Note: This is one of the many objective questions exercises on physics provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn physics.

7. Web Exercises on Psychology (Sensation and Perception)

Question:

After living on a busy street for months, Jay-Z didn’t notice the noise, but then one day the street was closed to traffic and the unusual silence made Jay-Z look out the window. This is an example of

(a)  unlearning

(b)  dishabituation

(c)  motivation

Answer: (b)

Note: This is one of the many web exercises on psychology provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn psychology.

8. Video Lecture on Maths for Mgr, Life and Soc Sc (Exponential Functions)

This video lesson discusses the solving of an exponential decay problem, using a half-life problem for illustration. 
This is one of the many video lessons on mathematics provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn mathematics.

9. Video Lesson on Mechanics (Work and Energy)

This short video lesson discusses power as the rate at which a work is performed, or the rate at which an energy is transmitted.
This is one of the many video lessons on mechanics provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn mechanics.

10. Python Programming (Bubble Sort)

Code:
def bubble_sort(array):
    n = len(array)
    print(“original array”, array)
    for i in range(n):
        already_sorted = True
        for j in range(n – i – 1):
            if array[j] > array[j + 1]:
                 array[j], array[j + 1] = array[j + 1], array[j] #swap
                 already_sorted = False #there was a swap
                 print(“array after i=”, i, “and j=”, j, array)
        if already_sorted: #if no more swap
            break

    return array

oArray = [2, 8, 9, 4, 26, 82, 56, 43]
nArray = bubble_sort(oArray)
print(“Sorted array”, nArray)

Output:
original array [2, 8, 9, 4, 26, 82, 56, 43]
array after i= 0 and j= 2 [2, 8, 4, 9, 26, 82, 56, 43]
array after i= 0 and j= 5 [2, 8, 4, 9, 26, 56, 82, 43]
array after i= 0 and j= 6 [2, 8, 4, 9, 26, 56, 43, 82]
array after i= 1 and j= 1 [2, 4, 8, 9, 26, 56, 43, 82]
array after i= 1 and j= 5 [2, 4, 8, 9, 26, 43, 56, 82]
Sorted array [2, 4, 8, 9, 26, 43, 56, 82]

Note:
The 1st interchange is between array[2] and array[3] as 9 is greater than 4
The 2nd interchange is between array[5] and array[6] as 82 is greater than 56
The 3rd interchange is between array[6] and array[7] as 82 is greater than 43
Notice that after the first round (i=0), the last element is the greatest number
The 4th interchange is between array[1] and array[2] as 8 is greater than 4
The 5th interchange is between array[5] and array[6] as 56 is greater than 43
Notice than after the second round (i=1), the last but one number is the second largest number
During the third round, there is no swapping at all, implying the array is already sorted and the sorting ends.

 

11. Economics (The Consumer’s Optimal Choices)

Consumers' Optimal Choice

1. The consumer would like to end up on the highest possible indifference curve, but he must also stay within his budget.

2. The highest indifference curve the consumer can reach is the one that just barely touches the budget constraint. The point where they touch is called the optimum.

3. The optimum point represents the best combination of cola and pizza available to the consumer.

  • The consumer would prefer point A, but he cannot afford that bundle because it lies outside of his budget constraint.
  • The consumer could afford bundle B, but it lies on a lower indifference curve and therefore provides less satisfaction.

4. At the optimum, the slope of the budget constraint is equal to the slope of the indifference curve

  • The indifference curve is tangent to the budget constraint at this point.
  • At this point, the marginal rate of substitution is equal to the relative price of the two goods.
  • The relative price is the rate at which the market is willing to trade one good for the other, while the marginal rate of substitution is the rate at which the consumer is willing to trade one good for the other
Note: This is one of the many lessons on economics provided at the course site so that a student who signs up for this Life Science ePrep course can also learn economics.

12. Discrete Mathematics (Equality of Mathematical Expressions)

Question:

Discrete Mathematics

Solution:

  

Remark:

Above are some samples of the bonus materials on other subjects. They demonstrate how comprehensive and broad-base this Life Science e_Prep course is for helping students to be better prepared for their university studies or their careers. It is to be expected that not all the bonus course materials are of use to the students who take up this academic university e_prep course on Life Science, but they can choose which of these bonus course materials are relevant to them and ignore the rest.
Remember not to short-change yourself – do not go for any of those low-grade courses prepared by any “Tom-Dick-And-Harry” who self-claim to be an industry expert, especially if you are preparing for further academic studies or career advancement!  You do not need thousands of such courses.  As you can see, with this single Life Science course, you have a good suite of materials on many other subjects as well.  You also get a hard copy of the Biology – Concept and Applications textbook.

It is prudent to go only for a high-quality specially-designed academic course such as this Life Science electronic prep course for getting you a head start in university, or your career.

Life Science ePrep course for Uni Preparation

Who Should take this course?
It is a very important course for students doing life science, medical, dental, pharmaceutical, biological, biotechnical, biochemical, biomedical, and health-care-related degrees. This course will not only provide the student with a strong foundation in life science and other biological knowledge but will also enhance their knowledge and skills in other subject areas such as physics, mathematics, statistics, psychology, finance, data analysis, economics, python programming, discrete mathematics, and ethics.
Even for those not going to any university due to various reasons, this is an opportunity to prove that they are capable of completing a university-level course.
Everyone is welcome and there is no pre-requisite.

Life Science ePrep Course for Uni Preparation

How to Sign up?
 
1 NSF and NSMen
Please sign up via NS Portal in order to qualify for the NS e-PREP credit. Go to “Acess ePREP” and search under NTU as the training provider. Then select among the e-PREP courses by NTU, “Life Science”.  Please note that since the course fee is $385, and the maximum NS e-PREP Credits is $350, after registration for the course you will have to pay $35. For advice on payment matters, please contact the MINDEF ePrep administrator at Tel No: (+65) 63731221,  or eMail: Trg_EPrepEnquiry@defence.gov.sg 
2 Non-NS Folks
This course is now open to all. Please sign up with NTU PaCE directly.  The course fee is S$385, inclusive of the textbook. Those residing outside Singapore may have to pay for the postage of the textbook.

Life Science ePrep Course Duration

The official duration of the Life Science course is three months but may be extended upon request. Unofficially though, the support by the tutor extends beyond the official course period. Also, most of the course materials can be downloaded for later study. Please note that since most of the course materials are proprietary and for your private study only, while you may show others the materials, please refrain from transmitting them to others. 

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