Learning chemistry requires both the assimilation of many new concepts and the development of analytical skills. The textbook provides you with numerous tools to help you succeed in your chemistry course.
As you proceed through your course in chemistry, it is important for you to develop good study habits to help you in the learning process. I offer the following tips for your success in your study of chemistry:
Keep up with your studying day to day. In your chemistry course, new chemistry will build on material already presented. It is important not to fall behind; if you do, you will find it much harder to follow the lectures and discussions on current topics. Trying to “cram” just before an exam is generally a very ineffective way to study chemistry.
Focus your study. The amount of information you will receive in your chemistry course can sometimes seem overwhelming. It is essential to recognize those concepts and skills that are particularly important. Listen intently to the guidance and emphasis provided by your instructor. Pay attention to the skills stressed in the sample exercises and homework assignments. Notice the italicized statements in the text, and study the concepts presented in the chapter summaries.
Keep good lecture notes. Your lecture notes will provide you with a clear and concise record of the required material, and will contain the insight and expertise provided by your instructor. Using your lecture notes in conjunction with the text will be your best way to determine which material to study.
Skim topics in the text before they are covered in lecture. Reviewing a topic before lecture will make it easier for you to take good notes. First read the Introduction and Summary, then quickly read through the chapter, skipping Sample Exercises and supplemental sections. Pay attention to the titles of sections and subsections, which give you an awareness for the scope of the topics. Avoid the feeling that you must learn and understand everything right away.
After lecture, carefully read the topics covered in class. You will probably need to read assigned material more than once to master it. As you read, pay attention to the concepts presented and to the application of these concepts in the Sample Exercises. Once you think you understand a Sample Exercise, test your understanding by working the accompanying Practice Exercise.
Attempt all of the assigned end-of-chapter exercises. Working the exercises that have been selected by your instructor provides necessary practice in recalling and using the essential ideas of the chapter. You cannot learn merely by observing: you must be a participant. In particular, try to resist checking the Solutions Manual ( if you have one) until you have made a sincere effort to solve the exercise yourself. If you really get stuck on an exercise, however, get help from your instructor, another instructor or from another student. Spending more than 20 minutes on a single exercise is rarely effective unless you know that it is particularly challenging.
The bottom line is to work hard, study effectively, and use the tolls that are available to you, including the textbook. I want to help you learn more about the world of chemistry and why it is the central science.