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How to Study Chemistry

How to Study Chemistry

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Published by: api-3734333 on Oct 15, 2008
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Page 1
This table of contents is a handy checklist of many of the suggestions given in this book for the study of chemistry.

Keep this little book handy and refer to it often.
Know the makeup of your chemistry course.
Maintain an alert mind and cheerful attitude.

Apply what you learn to the world around you .
The essence of studying chemistry-have faith, study hard, think.
Study frequently and do problems.
Ask questions and get help from your instructor.
Get help from a tutor.
Alleviate anxiety.

Refine your understanding of topics through repetitive study.
Learn chemistry by writing.
Learn the bread and butter stuff well.
Learn the language of chemistry.

Memorize selected material.
Progress from the simple to the complex.
Explain things and learn generalizations.

Study your textbook with the full force of your intellect.
Study the chapter prior to attending lectures on it and keep good lecture notes.
Correlate material for better understanding and retention.
Distinguish between related items to increase your mental acuity.
Learn basic mathematics and solve many problems of all types.
Use the periodic table for learning the physical and chemical properties of the elements.
Learn general reactions and illustrate each general reaction with specific examples.
Organic chemistry : memorize types of organic compounds and types of organic reactions.
Study biochemistry like organic chemistry and learn metabolic pathways.
Study for tests well in advance.
Try to study when sickness strikes.
Introduction to sample ancillary pages.

Page 2
This little book gives realistic suggestions on how to study college general chemistry and high school chemistry. You may find
that some of the suggestions are also beneficial for the study of other subjects.
Keep this little book handy and refer to it often.

Read and reread this little book, again and again, during the course of your study. Most suggestions given herein apply to all phases of your study; some suggestions, however, apply only to certain areas of your study. In any case, refer to this little book often; it was written to help you in your study of chemistry. Keep it handy; tuck it in your textbook or in your lecture notebook. My hope is that you will put these suggestions into practice and that you will be successful in your study of chemistry.

Know the makeup of your chemistry course.

The content of a general chemistry course is taken from five traditional branches of chemistry - inorganic, organic,
physical, analytical, and biochemistry. General chemistry courses vary in content. For example, in a course suited for allied
health students, the first semester is devoted to the study of inorganic chemistry and elementary physical chemistry, while
nearly all of the second semester is devoted to organic chemistry and biochemistry. In a more traditional course, the proportion
of organic chemistry and biochemistry is much less, while the proportion of inorganic and physical chemistry is
correspondingly greater.

Inorganic chemistry involves the study of the structure and chemical reactions of substances composed of any of the known
elements. The study of compounds of carbon is so vast that it occupies a

separate branch of chemistry called organic chemistry. Biochemistry deals with the study of the chemical structure of living
material and of the chemical reactions occurring in living cells. Physical chemistry involves the application of quantitative and
mathematical methods to the solution of chemical problems. Analytical chemistry is concerned with the qualitative and
quantitative analysis of substances by physical and chemical methods.

Get a bird's eye view of your chemistry course at the very start of it. Look over the topics given in the syllabus handed to
you at the beginning of the course by your instructor. Look over the topics given in the table of contents of your textbook. Read
the preface of your textbook for enlightening remarks on the makeup of your textbook. Thumb through your textbook. Stop here
and there and spot-read. Take note of learning objectives, tables, graphs, marginal notes, word lists, summaries, and problems.

Maintain an alert mind and cheerful attitude.

Intellectual effort is best served by a well-nourished and well-rested body. Rest on your day of rest; take delight in the banquet of life. Renew yourself spiritually. Treat yourself to pizza or stuffed cabbage or chicken paprika. Engage in physical activity regularly; it tones up the mind as well as the body. By attending to your needs, you ensure an alert mind and cheerful attitude, both of which are conducive to learning chemistry.

Apply what you learn to the world around you.

Enliven your interest in chemistry by relating what you learn to everyday things and occurrences. Our world is a chemical world. To learn chemistry is to learn about the world we live in. Consider a few ways in which chemistry is involved in our lives. Food production worldwide has increased through the use of fertilizers. Commercial fertilizers contain such inorganic

compounds as ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium dihydrogen phosphate, calcium sulfate, and potassium chloride.
Ammonia gas also is applied directly to the soil to provide
nitrogen for the plants.

Environmental pollution is largely a chemical problem. Consider formation of acid rain. When fuels containing sulfur are
burned, sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide are formed and escape into the atmosphere. Moisture and rain react with these
compounds to form sulfurous and sulfuric acids. These acids pollute the air and fall to the earth where they adversely affect
vegetation. Chemists and others are actively seeking ways to reduce and prevent pollution of our environment.

Synthetic fibers, such as nylon and polyesters, are used in the manufacture of clothing. Nylon and polyesters are giant
organic molecules called polymers. A polymer is manufactured from one or two simple chemical compounds called monomers.
Polyethylene, a polymer made from ethylene, is used in the manufacture of storage bags and of other plastic ware.

Today, research in biochemistry is being vigorously pursued. Biochemists have discovered that the disease phenylketonuria

(PKU) in the newborn is a genetic disease. In this disease, the gene for directing the synthesis of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase is defective; therefore, this enzyme is not produced. Without this enzyme, the amino acid phenylalanine cannot undergo its normal conversion to another amino acid, tyrosine. Instead, some of the excess phenylalanine is converted to the end-product phenylpyruvate. Both phenylalanine and phenylpyruvate build up in the system, causing severe mental retardation. PKU is detected in the newborn by a simple urine test. If PKU is present, the child is put on a low phenylalanine diet until the brain is completely formed.

Many more applications of chemistry will be found in your textbook and will be discussed by your lecturer. In addition, newspaper and magazine articles and radio and television programs are good sources of knowledge about our chemical world. Relating what you learn to practical things and occurrences not only increases your interest in chemistry but also helps you retain what you learn.

Consumer chemistry is a popular college course. As the title of the course indicates, practical aspects of chemistry are
studied. No prior knowledge of chemistry is needed to take a course of this type. In fact, only a minimal amount of chemistry is
presented in the course, just enough to indicate, superficially, the chemical nature of things and occurrences. This course in not
equivalent to a regular general chemistry course.

Page 3
The essence of studying chemistry-have faith, study hard, think.

You may be a very good student but yet you may encounter difficulty in learning chemistry. Why is this so ? The reasons seem to be that the study of chemistry requires new attitudes, new approaches, new modes of thinking, and new study habits not used in non-scientific courses.

The teaching and learning of chemistry are acts of faith. You must have faith in your teacher-faith in his ability to prepare his lectures well and to present them in an organized and lucid manner. You must have faith in yourself-faith in your ability to learn from your teacher and from your textbook.

This faith in yourself must be translated into real intellectual effort. You must be willing to accept the academic challenge. Learning chemistry is hard work and takes time. Learning chemistry is an active pursuit that requires concentration, discipline, patience, persistence, and practice. To be concentrated means to devote full attention to the task at hand while blocking out the many things that cause distraction. To be disciplined means to plan your study time and to keep to your plan of study. Do not take shortcuts. Stay with the methods that work best for all of us : be disciplined, concentrate, be persistent, practice much, study hard. These are the ways that ensure success in the study of chemistry.

Think. To think means to meditate; to reflect upon; to consider a matter; to imagine; to reason; to determine a solution to a difficulty; to exercise powers of judgment, conception, or inference; to reflect for the purpose of reaching a conclusion; to have or form a mental picture. To be successful in the study of chemistry you must think.

Study frequently and do problems.

Try to study chemistry nearly every day. Make problem solving a part of every study session. Study by yourself most of the
time. You may follow-up your independent study by studying with a friend. Occasionally, studying in a small group may be
beneficial, provided that you do your own studying beforehand. One student of the group may act as lecturer, presenting and

discussing the material while other students contribute information from time to time. Then the roles may be reversed.
Ask questions and get help from your instructor.

Be curious. Ask questions during lecture. Specific questions are best. Avoid asking broad questions in class. Reserve broad questions for a private meeting with your instructor. After class, seek help and advice from your instructor. Go to him or her as often as needed. Prepare in advance a list of questions to be asked and problems to be solved.

Get help from a tutor.

You may choose to engage the services of a private tutor. If you do, prepare for each tutoring session by studying the work
to be reviewed and by making a list of topics to be discussed, questions to be asked, and problems to be solved. Prior preparation
will ensure efficient use of time. Note that a typical numerical problem takes about ten minutes to work out and discuss. During
the session the tutor will record notes that will be given to you at the end of the session. Additionally, you may record the
commentary on a cassette tape. As soon as possible after the tutoring session, review the notes and listen to the tape; correlate
them with companion textbook material and lecture notes. You are the one to decide the frequency of tutoring sessions. Your
decision will be dictated by how much you benefit from each session, the difficulty of new work, and the need for test

Alleviate anxiety.
Most scientific textbooks look formidable. The size and, more so, the content of your new chemistry textbook may cause

you to generate fear and anxiety, particularly so if you did not take chemistry in high school or if you think that you are not scientifically-minded. You might ask-how could I hope to learn all this ? The clich\u00e9 first-things-first seems appropriate here. General chemistry is presented in a logical manner-the simpler methods and concepts preceded the more complex ones. You gradually build upon existing knowledge at each stage of your study. This manner of learning chemistry requires that you keep abreast of the lecturing by attending all lectures and by studying chemistry nearly every day. As you learn more and more, your chemical intuition and confidence increase.

Refine your understanding of topics through repetitive study.

Repetition is necessary for learning chemistry. Few students are so expert that they can learn it all the first time around.
That your study requires considerable repetition is not a sign of your inadequacy but is a necessary method for learning
chemistry. With a critical mind, go over the material again and again. Each time you do so, you refine your understanding of the
topic. Through repetitive study many facts, concepts, and methods will be committed to memory. Much will become second
nature to you.

Learn chemistry by writing.

The ability to write well is advantageous in school and on the job. Writing is a good way to learn chemistry. The act of
writing makes you think. When studying chemistry, retell the story of what you learn in your own words. Write out descriptions,
explanations, and interpretations in clear, concise, and specific language, giving examples where appropriate. Write and rewrite
until the picture is clear and concise. This practice also will benefit you in tests. Tests may include questions that require brief
descriptions or explanations. A clear, concise, and accurate answer will save time and earn full credit.

A valuable little book on rhetoric is W. Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, The Macmillan Co., NY.
Borrow a copy from the library or buy one. It comes in hardback and paper copies. The paper copy is much cheaper; it costs
about three dollars. The book is in its third edition, but an earlier edition will do. Some of the rules of rhetoric given in this book

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