HOW TO MAKE THE GRADE IN CHEMISTRY
These comments were collected from several students who have succeded in chemistry and are now tutors. These ideas were presented at a workshop organized by the Reading and Academic Skills Center at Widener University. I would like to thank the tutors (Chanell, Mark, Bob, Maureen, Kruti and Alex) for their suggestions and Sam Nobel for organizing the workshop. Take these comments as suggestions. Use the ones that work for you.
- Do not try to read and understand a whole chapter at one time. Break the chapter into logical sections. Actually, this is done for you in the textbook. The notations 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. indicate logical breaks in the material. Read and understand the material one section at a time.
- Realize that the textbook is outlined for you and use the subheadings to see the relationships between parts of the chapter. Use the subheadings to create questions to guide your reading. After reading, you should be able to understand the textbook with some help from the lecture.
- Before the lecture, read the chapter thoroughly. Come to lecture knowing what you know and what you donít know. Be prepared to ask questions if the lecture does not clarify those parts to the textbook that you do not understand.
- Work the example problems as you read.
- Mark and annotate the textbook either before or after you work the problems at the end of the chapter. Do not annotate until after you have heard the lecture.
- As you read take lots of notes. Condense your reading notes as you review.
- Either during or immediately after lecture, mark the sections of the textbook that the professor talks about. Read these sections carefully. The professor may signal areas that he thinks are important and that will appear on the test.
- I read the textbook before class, and I make sure that I read the summary. Reading before class cuts down on my frustration during lecture and helps me concentrate during lecture.
- After lecture, I reread the textbook and highlight it, and I make notes in the margins.
- I put questions about what I still donít understand on yellow post-is in the book and go and see the professor and get my questions answered.
- I use the questions at the end of the chapter. I answer them as I read. This keeps me active and focused. Otherwise, I fall asleep.
- I write down the answers to the questions. The writing down really helps my memory. I try to put the answers in my own words.
- After class, I skim and scan through the chapter and reread the answers Iíve written to the questions. I answer more of the questions at the end of the chapter if I havenít gotten them finished.
- I donít read textbooks. I learn my lecture notes and work the problems. Sometimes I look at the sample problems in the textbook readings.
- I read before the lecture and use the syllabus to keep up with the reading. If I fall behind, I do the reading immediately after lecture. I also study the pictures and the diagrams.
- I read the chapter before I do the problems at the end.
- I skim read the chapter before class and pay attention to the pictures and the bold print.
- After class, I open my lecture notes and do a slow study read of the textbook. Then I combine the lecture and textbook notes either by writing in the margin of the text or by combining the text notes with the lecture notes.
- I do a fast read before class. After class I do a slow read, take notes, and highlight. I study the lecture notes with the reading notes. I also reread the highlighted material.
- I work the sample problems as I read and the problems at the end of the chapter after I read.
- I take lots of notes. If I canít keep up, I leave spaces and get the information from a classmate or from the professor or I just raise my hand and ask the professor to repeat.
- I rewrite my notes as soon after class as possible. I take them on typing paper and then copy them into a spiral notebook.
- I go over them the same day and organize them.
- I take all my notes in outline form. I donít try to write full sentences. I review the notes as soon after class as I can. Even if I have only five minutes, I review them.
- I copy the example problems the professor does on the board. The most important thing you can do to get good grades in chemistry is to go to class and pay close attention.
- I always go to class and go to see the professor if I donít understand something.
- I go over my class notes after lecture. If I donít understand something in the lecture notes, then I try to understand it using the textbook. If that doesnít work, I go to the professor.
- During lecture, I listen for things that are repeated. I pay particular attention to "moments in the history of chemistry" and I draw picture of these stories. I pay added attention when the professor explains reactions.
- I write down everything that is written on the board.
- I review the lecture notes immediately after class. I look up things that I donít understand in the textbook and if I still donít understand it, I go to the professor. I donít put this off even one day.
- Solving the problems at the end of the chapter will show you how well you understand the reading.
- If you get stuck, go back and work the example problems. Then work similar problems. If you have to rely on the sample problems, however, you do not understand the concepts. You should be able to do the problems at the back without looking at the sample problems.
- If you still donít understand working the assigned problems, go to see your professor and then work the unassigned problems.
- If I get stuck, I go and see my professor.
- I get the concepts through going to lecture and reading the textbook. Then I do the problems.
- I donít usually do the sample problems. If I have difficulty with one problem, I try to work others like it.
- Sometimes I draw a picture of the problem. I may also highlight key words in the problem.
- Sometimes I analyze the problem by writing down what is known and what is unknown.
- I work the sample problems mentally. They are usually easier than the problems at the end of the chapter.
- I start the problems at the end of the chapter before the lecture on the materials and I try to finish the problems before we finish the chapter.
- If I have problems and have to go to the study guide, I work that problem over again. I work that problem over again.
- I work the assigned problems at the end of the chapter and try to learn from my mistakes.
- Before class, I try to get back and review the lecture notes and work a few problems so I can ask questions in class.
- I work the problems over and over even if I think I know them. I do all the problems many of them more than once.
- If I have trouble with one of the problems, I look back at the sample problem.
- I do the problems from the study guide and the practice test problems.
- I do the assigned problems and a week later, I do them again.
- I donít rely on the solutions manual. I focus on the concepts so that I can make the applications on the test.
- When I canít do a problem, I go and see the professor.
- I work the problems after I read the chapter. I work them again as frequently as I need to to remember them.
- Sometimes working on problems in a group really helps.
- I donít work with a group; I study by myself and ask the professor questions. I donít want to learn someone elseís mistakes.
- I use a group to study for tests. I start the problems before I go to group. At least, I try to look them over. Group is a good place to find back tests. We usually have found different ones and we trade.
- I donít really have a group. I catch people before and after class and discuss problems with them.
- I do the problems before I go to group. If people in the group have different answers, we try to find out who is correct. I try to share what I know and also learn from other group members.
- It is better to study with someone who is doing better in the course.
- I work out problem sets with the group. It really helps. If you want to survive in chemistry, you should have a study group and you must see your professor.
- In my group we work problems together. It takes less time because when you work with others, one person may understand a problem that you do not and vice-versa. If everyone is tuck, you can send one person to see the professor.
IF YOU GET BEHIND
- When I get behind, I sit down and make out a make-up plan. I set goals and commitments about when Iím going to get things done. I stick with my plan.
- The most important thing to do in chemistry is to do the work every day and to see the professor when you need help. If you are far behind, think about dropping.
- Try not to get behind. One concept builds on another and it is almost impossible to catch up.
STUDYING FOR TESTS
- Study chemistry every day and space the review for tests. Cramming for tests doesnít work.
- I work the problems. When I am comfortable with the problems, I review the step out loud.
- I look for models and frames for problems. I look for patterns.
- First, I get a visual picture by working the problems; then I practice the steps aloud. If I canít say the steps without looking at the problem then I donít know how to do it. I teach myself by reciting.
- I get back tests. These will be phrased in the professorís words and style and they help me anticipate the kinds of questions that will be asked.
- I spend 90% of my test study time on back tests. They are posted and I also as the professor for others. Often you can get back tests from upperclassmen. Other people in the class will find other tests too. I work as many back tests as I can.
- You canít cram chemistry. I study about hour or two every night.
- I get sleep before a test. Staying up late is awful. Your mind isnít sharp for the test.
- I concentrate on what I donít know. I ask the professor for help.
- I do some problems the night before and I redo the problems I got wrong.
- I say the steps to the problem out loud. When I can say the steps, I can remember the problem. For me, the problems teach the theory.
- I donít stay up late or go to the test tired. I have to be able to think and make applications and I canít do it with a tired mind.
- Remember to take your calculator and be familiar with it.
- You forget when you cram so you must study over time. If you cram for one test and manage to pass, you will still forget the material you crammed. This means that you will not know what you must know to learn the new material that you will need for the next test.
- Look at back tests. They are usually posted on the bulletin board. I also use the tests and materials available on the computer.
- I do the assigned problems at the end of the chapter. Do them over and over and concentrate on the concepts. The main thing is understanding the problems.
- I work with a group and do as many of the back tests as I can.
This page is maintained by
Scott Van Bramer
Department of Chemistry
Chester, PA 19013
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times since 1/1/97.
Last Updated 1/1/97