During the first two quarters of general chemistry, did you ever feel like you were falling behind? Did you have trouble getting things done because you felt you had too much material to cover? Here are some tips to help you be productive these first few weeks:
- Read before going to class. The lecture is meant to complement the text, and reading before class allows for you to develop a better understanding of the material. At the very least, develop an outline of the concepts you will be covering in class so that you can fill in the blanks during the lecture.
- Rewrite your notes. Try to get in the habit of rewriting your notes within a week of the day they were taken. Once again, this reinforces the concepts you are learning and helps you determine which concepts still need clarification.
- Attend SI Sessions. By attending the group review sessions and working together with your classmates, you will be able to further enhance your understanding of the material. You will have the opportunity to discuss the concepts that still need clarification, and explain the concepts you already understand.
Three Study Tips for Chemistry Exams
Hey everyone! I hope you are having a productive weekend preparing for your first exam. Are you not sure where to begin? This week I’m going to offer you three tips on how to study for chemistry exams.
How much time do you spend studying for an exam? Do you cram for the exam the night before? Here are some tips to help you be more productive the next few days before the exam:
- STUDY, STUDY, STUDY. You should be studying at least 3-4 hours per every hour you spend in class each week (12-16 hours). On exam weeks 20 hours is a good amount of total study time to divide into your five day study plan.
- Begin Preparing for Exams Early. The key to performing well on exams is to start early and study in short and regular sessions. This requires excellent time management skills. When I study for exams, I typically follow a Five Day Study Plan. Keys to this plan include
- Separate your studying into a 5 day period
- Review new information each day, then review previous material
- Separate the material for each day into chunks
- Use active study techniques to study the material
- Test yourself on your progress (recite notes, recreate solutions from memory, etc)
- Utilize your resources. Make sure to attend office hours with your professor, your CA, and to attend the SI sessions. Come to office hours prepared, having read the text and with questions to ask. By writing reading assignments and office hours in your planner as a part of the class, you are forcing yourself to use your time more effectively.
Remember: Time management is the key to learning more. By building these three tips into your weekly routine, you will be using your time more effectively in order to accomplish your goals.
“He who every morning plans the transactions of that day and follows that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” – Victor Hugo
Using Resources and Collaboration to Solve Chemistry Problems
I hope you have all recovered from exam stress. On Friday’s SI session, we did a post-test analysis and discussed which study strategies and habits were most effective in helping everyone prepare for the exam. If you would like to assess your study habits here is the link.
What resources do you use when you are studying? Try to incorporate a combination of the following resources when working on your homework or studying for an exam.
- Read the text book. In order to be able to solve problems you need to be able to understand the underlying concepts within problems. Skim the texts for key words and phrasesto help you develop a conceptual understanding of the material. Just like in our SI sessions, take a minute to summarize these concepts:
- Out loud with a study partner or group
- On paper for reference later when studying
Check out this summary of buffers with practice problems.
- Watch videos. If you are an auditory learner, you probably need to hear the steps to solving a problem several times before it becomes embedded in your memory. While we always summarize the steps during SI sessions, watching videos that solve chemistry problems gives you the ability to pause and replay each problems as many times as you like.
Check out this video that solves a buffer titration problem.
- Write Out Problems. Whether you like to write your problems on paper or practice on a dry erase board, make sure to practice writing out every problem. Do not just reason through the solution or process and trick yourself into thinking you know how to solve it. Practicing writing problems is the best way to prepare for the test if it is the only thing you have the time for. Make sure to attend SI sessions where you can collaborate with your peers and solve problems together!
“Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy.” – Don Tapscott
Tutorial on how to solve a titration problem when a strong acid is added to a weak base!
5 Tips for Marking the Textbook for Enhanced Conceptual Understanding
Conceptual understanding is the ability to choose the correct concept and use it appropriately when solving a problem. This skill is the key to problem solving that separates expert problem solvers from beginners. How can you develop this skill and learn to invoke the correct concepts? Marking the textbook is an excellent place to start. Below are 5 tips for marking your textbook to enhance your conceptual understanding.
- Read first. Only mark the textbook after reading the entire paragraph. This practice will allow you to distinguish important concepts from everything else.
- Be selective. Aim to underline a minimal number of words. This practice will ensure that you are familiar with the key words and terminology that will be present in problems.
- Make notes in the margins. Ask questions that still need clarification. Rewrite important concepts in your own words. Emphasize points that you want to remember. This practice will ensure that you truly understand the material you are reading.
- Come up with a system for your markings. Circle words you don’t know. Place asterisks by important passages. Create lists of important points. Use different colors for underlining and highlighting definitions, ideas, concepts, or examples. This practice will help you to locate the information you are looking for quicker when you have a question while studying.
- Stay organized. Taking time to keep your notes organized will not only make it easier to review these notes at a later date, but will also force you to spend the extra time necessary to fully understand the concepts that you are reading.
Wherever it says DH, DG, or DS the D is supposed to be the delta sign.
-Know the difference between enthalpy, entropy, and free energy:
-Know how DH°, T, and DS° affect the spontaneity of a reaction using the equation for Gibbs free energy: DG° = DH° – TDS°
-Know what direction the reaction will proceed if DG0, or DG=0
You should be able to:
-Predict the sign of entropy change in a reaction
– Calculate DS°surr
-Determine the temperature range of a spontaneous reaction
-Calculate Gibbs free energy:
- From standard free energies of formation
- For a stepwise reaction
- Under nonstandard conditions
-Relate the equilibrium constant to DG°rxn using the following equation:
Cornell Note Taking Method and Final Exam Preparation Tips
Hi everyone, now that we have covered the topics of entropy, spontaneity, and Gibbs free energy, we can relate these concepts to the exciting topic of electrochemistry! If you would like to get a head start on some of the concepts covered in this chapter, take a look at this PowerPoint. If you would like some practice doing the half-reaction method for balancing redox equations, check out these interactive redox problems.
The major sections of Chapter 20 are as follows:
- Galvanic cells
- Cell Potentials And Standard Reduction Potentials
- The Nernst Equation
- Electrochemical Determination Of Ph
- Cell Potential And Equilibrium
- Batteries And Corrosion
Your focus for the next week should be to determine what the main points are within each of these sections. A simple way of doing this is to use the Cornell note taking method to collect your notes during lecture. This method is an excellent way of organizing your notes from the get go. By using this method not only are you recording your notes, but you are also coming up with questions to clarify meaning, reciting the main points, reflecting on the significance of these concepts and how they can be applied, and setting up your notes to be easily reviewed at a later date.
Don’t forget to brush up on stoichiometry and periodic table trends for this chapter. Also don’t brush that knowledge of spontaneous reactions and Gibb’s free energy to the side just yet. Not only will refreshing on these concepts aid in your understanding of electrochemistry, but it will also help to prepare you for the ACS final. Now is a good time to purchase the ACS official study guide for general chemistry so that you will have it in time to study efficiently for your final. This book is a great way of becoming familiar with the format of the exam as well as a great way of organizing all the concepts you have learned this past year.
Videos and Handouts
comprehensive review packet of general chemistry skills