A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

How to Study Chemistry

This student graduated with a major in Chemistry and is now a Chemistry Professor.  She had severe visual-spatial problems and visual-sequential problems (couldn’t read a clock).  Also, manipulation of visual/conceptual ideas was difficult.  As a result of her visual problems, she was a very slow reader.  She also had severe health problems.  However, when she was well she was able to get A’s in Science and Math courses; when health problems were severe, her grades slipped to C’s. 

Elements of this method may work for anyone, but it is especially helpful for people who have problems with visual and auditory processing

Her Advice:

  1. The secret for success is to ask the professor questions.
  2. First, try to understand on your own:
    1. Go over your notes
    2.  Read the book 
    3. Try the homework
  3. Then, if you have a question on anything, go in and ask.  Don’t be afraid to say you do not understand.  Don’t be embarrassed to ask the same question in several ways until you understand the answer.  Dr. Piersma will even draw diagrams to get his point across.  All the professors are willing to help, esp. if they see you really trying!

Studying Chemistry

Note:   Reading the text is less important in General Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry than in Physical Chemistry.

Skim the readings and focus on practice problems that show how to solve the problems.  Doing all the reading may just get you confused (if you learn like her)

Since she had problems with reading, she focused on the lectures, then used the text to back up her knowledge and to solve homework problems.

Try to do little problems at least once a day, every day:  Chose a problem from the chapter; work it; look up the answer in the back of the book.  If your answer is wrong, rework the problem.  If you cannot understand how to do the problem go to any chemistry professor and get help.

Try to get a tutor if you are really struggling.  The Center for Academic Success and Advising (CASA) may be able to help with this!