ZOOL20005: Animal structure and function exam review


One exam down, one more to go! This morning I ventured off to sit my first paper, Animal Structure and Function. And the burning question – how did it go?

Good I think! The exam was worth 55% of my mark and it was 3 hours long. There were 3 sections: Questions from the prac (multiple choice), questions form the lectures (multiple choice) and 3 essay questions. I was REALLY pushed for time. Unlike my first year papers, I really had to work and make sure I keep an eye on the time.

I know I did well in the essay section, but the multiple choice questions! OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were ridiculous. This section was probably my weakest, fingers crossed that my guessing skills have improved over the years…


This post is for those people out there who are planning to do ZOOL20005: Animal Structure and Function. Since the exam is still fresh in my head, I will share what the paper was like and what you REALLY need to know.

Multiple choice was ridiculously confusing

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 3.25.43 PM

Instead of having the standard questions and 4 answers, they decided to be a little ‘creative’. So they gave us a sheet like the above (but it was much longer, and double sided). This sheet had ALL the possible answers for the multiple choice sections, and we had to pick our answer from this sheet. So instead of having a 1 in 4 chance of getting the answer right, we had 1 in a gazillion chance of getting it right. Thank you…NOT.

But it was super confusing because they didn’t give us clear instructions on what letter to assign our answer to! I spent more time figure out which letter the answer is for, then working out what box and which line to colour in the bubble.

There no time for this especially in an exam like this!

Probably the most confusing paper I’ve done so far.

My conspiracy theory? They just want to save paper.

Yes you have to label diagrams


Those diagrams you had to label in the pracs? Yep, they pop up on the exam!

Some diagrams that I had to label in the exam include: the squid, fish stomach, worm structures.

Yes you have to know your names


The names of the bones, phylum, class, subclass, order etc? Yep, you need to know them! Trust me! They ask you about what phylum does x belong to, and what subclass do they belong to?

I find that drawing cladograms really help with mapping out which category the animal fits in.

Multiple choice would be easy they said, you will be fine they said…

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 3.58.45 PM

LIES. For me, the multiple choice was the hardest part! Essay questions were a breeze compared to the multiple choice.

Or maybe that’s me. I seem to have some uncanny luck where I find the hard questions easy, and the easy ones hard (if that makes sense). I am weird, I know. My mum agrees with that statement too.

From memory, here is a couple of things that popped up on the multiple choice section

  • Origins of vertebrates – who were the ancestral chordates for fishes?
  • Fish swimming – what causes drag; which fins are involved in yaw, pitch, roll and fins; mouthparts associated with feeding; body shape; caudal fin shape
  • Oviparity, viviparity, and ovoviparity (why are there no viviparous birds? I’m 99% sure that this question in the exam was wrong. WRONG I TELL YOU!)
  • Dinosaurs and endothermy. What evidence link dinosaurs to an endothermic life? (Hint: Harvesian bones)
  • Bipedalism – the advantages
  • Worms – platyhelminthes, nematodes, and annelids; body structure; differences between them.
  • Cnidaria – nematocysts found in which subclass etc.
  • Arthropods –  the exoskeleton structure and the ORDER of them; types of different insects (lepidoptera, hemiptera etc.)

p.s. A lot of questions were based on Arthropods and worms!

The essay questions

1. What skeletal and musculature adaptations are involved in the evolution of flight in birds (25 marks)

Hint: Pectoralis, supracorecoideus, pneumatized bones, knees bent to absorb shock of landing, fused clavicle.

2. Fish have diverse morphology for feeding and locomotion, explain the diversity etc. (25 marks)

Hint: Evolution of jaws, different types of dentition of different fishes, fin morphology, red vs white muscles, paired appendages for increase manoeuvrability, control etc. And use examples. E.g. tuna have more red muscles, high aspect ratio, found swimming in pelagic regions.

3. Insects and exoskeleton – how were they successful in inhabiting terrestrial habitats (15 marks)

Hint: very strong for protection, water conservation, plasticity of skeleton, locomotion as in flight.

4. Annelids and molluscs – key differences between them. Examples of classes found in seabeds. Using different structures for feeding and locomotion etc. (25 marks)

Hint: Annelids have setae, molluscs have radula. Polychaetes use parapodia to swim, plus circular and longitudinal muscles (and oblique to pull their parapodia in). Molluscs such as Cephalopods (squid) expel water out from mantle to move in water. Or gastropods use their muscular foot to move, plus muscular foot is a hemocoel. And in monoplacophora, they have a style in the stomach.


Echinoderms and their technology (25 marks)


Technologies include: radial symmetry, water vascular system, have a calcified skeleton, and catch tissue.


I think the paper was OK, but I’m pretty happy with how I went.

Here’s a shout out to all my friends sitting the biochem paper tomorrow. Good luck!!


9 thoughts on “ZOOL20005: Animal structure and function exam review

    1. Hey there!

      There were no past exam papers for this subject but the subject coordinator gave us a little sample with a couple of example questions.

      BUT! Here’s a sneaky tip if you plan to do this subject. This subject is actually a combination of Invertebrate Structure and Function, and Vertebrate Structure and Function. So if you search through the exam paper database for these two subjects – there are some papers for you to practice on!

      And I’m glad you are enjoying the blog!

      If you have any other questions about the subject – feel free to shoot me an email or a fb message :)

  1. Hello :)
    I’m looking at doing this subject as a selective next year, it look super exciting!!
    I was just wondering, are the lecturers engaging? And is the assessment content closely related to lecture content? I’ve had Rob Day as a lecturer previously and his questions were loosely based on lecture content.
    Thanks so much for this amazing blog :)

    1. Hi there!!

      Wow, hats off to you if you’re going to do this as an elective! It was interesting, but it’s quite a full on subject. I found it very challenging and I had to put in a lot of work. But that’s not a bad thing or anything, just thought I’d let you know since you’re planning to do it as an elective.

      Lecturers engaging? Hmm…they weren’t the best, nor the worst (If you get what I mean). It was meh. If you want engaging, do Australian Wildlife Biology. The best zoology subject I’ve done so far!

      I would say yes – the assessment content relate closely to the lectures. Do pay attention in the pracs and read up before going to them. The pracs were INSANE. So much to do, so little time. A lot of technical jargon.

      Although I had no clue what was going on most of the time in this subject (I couldn’t keep up with the work load), once everything came together at the end, it was like, AH I get it…that wasn’t too hard. And you learn a lot from the subject, and this builds the foundations of all the other zoology subjects later on.

      If you want to ask anything else, feel free to email me dhng@student.unimelb.edu.au. Happy to answer more questions!


  2. Hi Daphne,
    If you don’t mind me asking, how did you go with the subject? And, do you have any tips now that you know how you went?

    PS. I love your blog!

    1. Hi there, I was quite happy with my H2B at the end of it! If I could do the subject/exam again – I would have done more pre-reading before the pracs. If I had invested a bit more time before pracs and study up on the organisms etc, I would have easily done better on those prac tests. Also – I would’ve practiced more essay writing because the essay questions in the exam were worth a fair chunk!

      Good luck with the subject!

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