So you spend a lot of time studying, but you still struggle with exams. What should we do now? First, know that you're not alone - some of the best students struggle with chemistry at some point, so stick with it!
Learning chemistry takes time!
There's a reason these courses aren't directed reading: All sections -- practice questions, readings, lectures, sections, labs, office hours, self-study or with friends, tutorials -- work best when you use them together.
Dig deeper into practical issues
Just doing a lot of practice problems won't necessarily make you a better problem solver. You'll never see an exam question that looks exactly like a practice question, so doing every possible question is not a good strategy. Instead, when you solve the practice problems we give you, make sure you can explain why and when each step will be taken in your solution.able to explain
- why some information is useful to you
- Why a message might be unnecessary
- What transformations do you need to make to use the information correctly
- why you use a specific formula
- How to rearrange formulas to find new parameters
- Why you need to consider a specific response
- When are you able to make whatever assumptions you are making
- which structures are helpful to understand
It's easy to fall into the trap of reading the solution key and thinking it makes sense. But unless you can justify each step with a "just because" statement, it's hard to apply these skills to another problem.
Do reading and warm-up questions before lectures
If you have followed theown rhythmIntroduced to the material, you can use lecture time more effectively to reinforce and practice these concepts. The more you hear and practice the material (ie problem sets, lectures, sections, study time...), the easier it will become.
The lab part is important
Sections are constructed to highlight and guide you through particularly important concepts and chemical phenomena. Make sure you can apply the main concepts of each section before your next exam. A good way to see if you are applying concepts rather than memorizing them is to check if you can explain why to each step you take in the question. Also be sure to complete any additional practice questions provided in the section and lab notes.
Scientists keep asking questions! Especially why! Teachers are always grateful when students ask questions because it shows they are listening and really thinking about the material.
- Ask "What the hell does this mean?" in each section as you read this chapter.
- Ask the "why" of a question when you decide what it's asking and how to fix it.
Ask questions about the lecture and some of the material. If you review the material yourself, pleasewrite down these questions. It would be great if you could answer it yourself! If you're having a hard time, take them with you to office hours or a study group. Then you don't forget, you make sure you have a more thorough understanding of everything.
Brush up on chemistry while you're awake
We all tend to put off the hard things, but that means you might end up studying chemistry at the end of the day, when you're exhausted and too tired to think properly. And, if you never practice, it never gets easier!
Instead, try to set aside some time each day when you know you'll be alert and ready. It doesn't have to be a huge block of time, but this way you'll at least get some quality time to combine with your chemistry.
Learn More Effectively - Not Just More!
- The first step in coming up with an effective study strategy is to assess what -- of all the things you're doing -- that seems to help you the most? What gives you the greatest confidence? If there are things you're used to, maybe spend less time reviewing those and more time on concepts that are still challenging.
- Take some time to assess the difficulties you encountered on the exam. When you take the test again, please retry any questions you missed (before viewing the solution). Did you go further than you did on the exam? Are you really able to do them with more time or in a less stressful environment? Are you stuck with concepts or definitions? in math? Questions at the beginning?
- Debriefing exams helps you identify conceptual gaps that require relearning and errors that may be caused by test stress or misreading questions.
- If you can start to identify where/how you are struggling with the exam, then you can think about how you can make better use of your study time when preparing for your next exam.
Numerous studies tell us that students who regularly participate in study group tutoring end up achieving higher grades.
- As you study with your classmates, use this opportunity to explain and discuss concepts or problem-solving strategies with others.
- When you look at the problem set together, not only to see how to solve that particular problem, but to see if you can come up with a few different approaches, we can ask other questions about the system. Can we ask you to address different parameters? How does the problem change under different conditions? This will help you think about and practice different problem-solving strategies.
- No study group? Connect with students during office hours, sections, plazas, ad hoc tutoring, and more!
Organic chemistry is three-dimensional!
You'll find that almost all of the study skills developed in general chemistry apply equally to organics: you still have to take the time to pickle the concepts, you have to dig deep into the problem, and you have to be always vigilant to ask "why." In organic chemistry, however, there is a new visual component to consider: molecules must be viewed in three dimensions (rather than two-dimensional lines and letters on paper), because 3D structure greatly affects actual chemistry. To start visualizing these structures, use the Model Toolkit to build molecules every time you do organic chemistry (reading, practice questions, etc.). Bring the model kit to the section.Your model will reveal important properties of the molecule, such as the spatial relationship between different atoms, or how easily bonds can rotate.Always keep a model kit with you and use it!
Most importantly, keep working hard! ! Everyone learns at a different pace and in a different way. There are many resources at your disposal because we know you can do this with the right tools. If you don't know where to start, just ask - with one of theCHEM tutoring tutor. We're all here to help you succeed!
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