All the reviews below will go on about the horrors of the grading matrix. From 2016, THERE IS NO GRADING MATRIX FOR BIOL1040! Because of this there are many changes, and trust me your life will be a lot easier now. The weightings for assessment items are spread evenly, however this requires you to work consistently throughout the semester, but unlike previous years, you will have more leeway.
Lectures - this course has many lecturers, some good, some bad (not naming anyone here). I would highly recommend going to the lectures and even of you can't make it, watch them at home. Although lecture slides have a great deal of information on them, the lecturers often add in information (some of which can come up on the final exam or in the quizzes). Plus, they do clicker questions in the lectures which are a great way to check whether you actually absorbed anything.
Pracs - how well you do in the pracs depends on how well you know your stuff, whether you read the criteria properly, and how good your tutor is. Most of the pracs require you to design your own experiment, so read the prac manual and lecture content before coming, and have some idea of your experimental design, it will save you a whole lot of stress. Given that you only have 48 hours to write the report, make sure you clarify anything you don't understand with your tutor before leaving and set aside a block of time (e.g. 3 hours) to write it. When you receive feedback, listen to it closely so you know how to improve for next time.
Personal Response/eConference - both of these assessments were absolute jokes. All I can say is read the criteria carefully and get clarification of anything you don't understand. The personal response appeared easy at first, but many people didn't do well on it because they didn't read the criteria (not to mention it was a subjective assignment). In regards to the eConference - FIND A GOOD GROUP! This assignment is time intensive, requiring you to find, get approval, read, understand and write about 2 articles and create a powerpoint, and there is nothing worse than ending up having to do all that because you have slack team members. Getting your topic approved by your tutor is also a nightmare, and be prepared for knockback after knockback (not to mention losing marks if your topic is approved after a certain date). Communication between tutors and students was poor, due to the fact most of the tutors were med/research students and had their own coursework to do. Get everything done quickly, and leave plenty of time for editing/asking questions. The eConference also came at a really crap time in the semester, as it was due around the time every other subject had assessment, so plan your time well. Note: the eConference and the personal response now contribute to 26% of your overall grade, so try to do well.
PASS/Workshops - GO TO PASS! Without PASS, I'm not sure whether I would have passed the course. Some of the PASS leaders are great, and often give you tips and tricks on how to remember stuff. Plus the sheets given out in PASS were great study materials for the final exam. Workshops were an absolute joke, I learned nothing from them. The only way you're going to benefit from the workshops is if you read the previous weeks material before coming, otherwise there is no point. Not to mention the workshop sheets covered stuff that we hadn't learnt yet or would not appear in the final (and yet we somehow had to magically know it). Workshop sheets were not helpful for final exam study.
Quizzes/Final - The platform for the quizzes (Mastering Biology) was horrid. Too slow and froze up often, which sucks when you're trying to complete a quiz in 30 minutes. The quiz design was also terrible. You couldn't go back to questions, which often meant you guess and move on, leaving a significant amount of time at the end. Although I would recommend using the non-cumulative quizzes as final exam study. Thanks to the thousands of complaints about the grading matrix, the final exam weighting has been reduced to 50%. Despite this, there is a lot of content covered in the exam and you cannot cram. Past exam papers, mastering biology quizzes and PASS sheets are all you need and remember to revise everything! Even if it is insignificant, it may appear. Also, the number of questions from each module are proportionate to the time spent on the module e.g. there were many questions about nervous systems, but not so many about locomotion.
This course has been notorious at UQ for many years with good reason. Having been part of the last class to take it with the stupid grading matrix, I am eternally glad to see the back end of the grading matrix. Biology courses are generally information overload, especially this one. Take deep breaths, go through your notes regularly, keep up a good work ethic and you'll get out of BIOL1040 alive and in relatively one piece. Be forever thankful to the people before you who took this course and fought for the change, so you don't have to suffer like we did.