How to Succeed in Chemistry
Because the lectures are the heart of the chemistry course, it is imperative that you give them your undivided attention. Your main focus should be on organizing, understanding, and applying the material presented in lecture. Also, there is no better single way to get more out of your classroom experience than by reading ahead. You may not understand all that you read, but when the professor discusses the material, you will have been exposed to it once and will be able to fill in the gaps.
2. Study frequently and work lots of problems.
Most of the chemistry course will require you to develop certain skills. Therefore, a central strategy in chemistry is to understand the importance of practice. If youíve ever played a musical instrument or participated in athletics, you know that the keys to success are practice and discipline. You canít learn to play a piano merely by listening to music, and you canít learn how to play basketball merely by watching games on television. Likewise, you canít learn chemistry by merely watching your instructor do it. Simply reading you textbook, listening to lectures, or reviewing notes will not usually be sufficient when test time comes around. Your task is to not merely to understand how someone else uses chemistry, but to be able to do it yourself. Remember that learning chemistry is your own responsibility. The professor will help you out as much as possible, but the professor can't learn it for you. Working problems is a sure way to test if you have been absorbing the material and are able to apply it. Your text contains many example problems within each chapter, and many un-worked problems and questions at the end of each chapter. Some chemistry professors will assign homework problems to turn in; others will only suggest that you work certain problems. You probably will not do well in the class if you do not practice as many problems as you can.
- Work at least the assigned problems after every class; it is a major mistake to wait until a night or two before the test to start working problems and studying. The subject matter of chemistry is sequential, so you must keep up-to-date. Your commitment to invest time and effort in the course is essential and will assure optimal performance.
- You may need to work the same problems twice because the first time you were trying to figure out what you should be doing. And, in the process, you may have referred to your notes or your text, or obtained help from your teacher or a friend to complete the problem. In this case, it is highly advisable to work the same problems a second time without notes or outside help to see if you have really absorbed the problem solving technique. Most students can work problems with enough outside help, but that is useless on a test. You cannot work too many problems!!!
- Do not memorize problems. You must understand the problem solving technique for each type of problem. A problem you have just memorized will likely be worded differently on the test. You must know how to approach each type of problem.
For help files and tutorials visit the Web Links page on the website.
3. Tests and Exams
Start your preparation early for tests and exams by further condensing your lecture note/textbook outlines into an integrated outline/summary of the whole topic. List (with examples) each problem type you will be responsible for solving, and make a summary chart of key formulas and relationships you need to learn.
4. Get help early.
When you do not understand the material or cannot work problems, get help right away. Do not wait until the night before the test or after you have failed two tests.
- Study and work problems with classmates.
- Solutions manuals that have every problem in the text worked out are available in room 401 in the morning before school.
- Your chemistry professor is available every day before school in room 401. Asking for help is a sign of maturity! When you come for help, have a specific problem or specific questions in mind. He can't help you much if you come in with something vague like, "I just don't understand this course" or "this chapter."
- Utilize the Web Links page on the website for help files and tutorials.
Last Updated on 08/14/08
By Harry Clark