Chemistry is known as a hard subject. It can be an intimidating course to take, especially in your first semester of college, which is when many college students take general chemistry. While there’s no easy way to make chemistry a breeze for everyone, there are some tips and tricks to help you prepare for and tackle college-level chemistry.
We hope that this article will give you some tools to help you succeed in college-level chemistry courses. It won’t be easy, but we know that with hard work and determination, anyone can learn chemistry. Chemistry is the backbone of so many other subjects in science, so it’s a super important subject to understand. Hopefully, you’ll find these tips helpful in getting prepared to take college-level chemistry.
How to Prepare for Chemistry in College?
College chemistry is not like the general chemistry that everyone took in high school. It generally consists of a few lectures a week with your professor as well as a longer lab session with either a professor, lab instructor, or grad student TA in charge. Since this format is so different from what you had in high school, one of the best ways to prepare is to understand your particular university’s format before going in.
Another thing that will help you pass college chemistry is to be able to study efficiently before you go into the course. Understanding how to organize your time and prioritize different subjects and tasks can be immensely helpful in college. This is a skill that you can practice in high school, so you will be super prepared when you come to college.
One of the best study tips for studying college-level chemistry is to study every day. Preparing before class and doing practice problems after class are both super important. These are also skills that you can practice before you get to college.
Is College Chemistry Hard?
College chemistry is known as a hard major and tends to have hard classes within it, but, in general, some people find chemistry relatively easy while others really struggle with the subject. Chemistry is not a subject that can be made harder or easier. The subject itself, at least when starting out, is a very mathematically determined subject that has definite right and wrong answers. There are some tips and tricks that you can use to succeed in general chemistry and beyond.
One thing that makes college chemistry a hard subject is that using only memorization will not be enough to get you through. In order to do well in chemistry courses, you really need to understand the material at a much deeper level than just memorization. This tends to be part of what makes college chemistry such a challenge for people.
While chemistry, in general, is known to be a challenge, organic chemistry is known to be challenging, even for chemistry students. One of the best organic chemistry study tips is to invest in a 3-D model of molecules that will allow you to build the molecules you are learning about and to see how they fit together. This tip doesn’t really apply to other chemistry courses as much but is one of the things that can help make organic chemistry slightly more manageable.
How Do You Study General Chemistry in College?
General chemistry is a pretty common course for anyone looking to get a natural science-based major in college or for anyone who is on a pre-med track. Since it is such a common course and it does tend to be a challenging course, most colleges have resources in place to help support general chemistry students as they get accustomed to the way their school teaches it.
Most universities have a few lectures a week taught by a professor, and that professor can be a great resource when it comes to studying for general chemistry. Typically, you will also have a lab section once a week that is taught by either a lab instructor, professor, or upper-level student. This person is also another great resource for you and is usually available at some point to help you study general chemistry.
Many universities also have chemistry specific study groups that are led by upper-level students who did well in the course. This is extremely applicable to general chemistry, as it is the first level of chemistry that you will take in college. These upper-level students can give you tips and tricks for studying chemistry that are specific to your university. We can offer you some great general tips and tricks in this article, but each school is different, so having someone at your school to help you get used to it can be really useful.
How Can You Learn Chemistry Easily?
The best way to learn chemistry easily is to take it in small chunks of information. Chemistry is a huge subject that covers tons of concepts, so it can seem pretty overwhelming at first. Breaking it down into smaller concepts can make it seem more approachable.
You should also make sure to study some every day. Chemistry isn’t an easy subject for most people to understand right away, but by studying it a little bit every day, you can understand chemistry with time. Try dedicating 20 minutes a day to reviewing chemistry. Even that small amount of time can really make it a lot easier to learn chemistry.
Can You Learn Chemistry Online?
Since chemistry is a subject with a definite right answer and wrong answer, at least for the first few levels, it is a subject that could be learned online. The challenge with learning chemistry online is that you are often more removed from your professor. With a challenging subject, like chemistry, having an approachable professor that you can ask questions of can be really helpful.
There are some great online resources that can supplement your chemistry course, though. Many universities use programs such as Sapling to assign online chemistry questions for you to answer or solve each night. These programs are designed to keep you practicing the subject every day and to help you put all the topics you’ve covered in the course together to solve problems or equations.
Another great resource for reviewing chemistry concepts online is youtube videos. There are a variety of great educational youtube channels out there with a full selection of chemistry content. The challenge with these is that the material you covered for a topic in the class is not likely to be exactly the same as what the video covers. That being said, using some of the videos as a review is a great tool.
Here are a few great channels to get you started:
- Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a great resource, and they cover more than just chemistry. They tend to go pretty in-depth to many subjects but can often be a little dry compared to something like CrashCourse.
- CrashCourse: CrashCourse is a well-known YouTube channel with sections focusing on everything from chemistry and biology to famous figures throughout history. They are known for engaging videos filled with fun animations, but they do contain really good information. Their videos might not always be the most in-depth, but the fun animations and images make them more engaging to watch than some other videos.
- The Organic Chemistry Tutor: The organic chemistry tutor is much more focused on, you guessed it, chemistry. They offer a more in-depth option to something like CrashCourse but tend to be a little less engaging.
The best way to utilize these resources is by using a variety of these online tools to supplement your chemistry course. Each channel has its own way of visually representing the information, so it might take you some time to figure out which style works best for you.
5 Best Study Tips for Chemistry in College
Chemistry might be hard to learn, but there are some study tips that you can use to make it a little simpler.
Mind map it out for understanding and connection
A mind map is a tool that you can use to map out the topics, concepts, or vocabulary words that you have learned and allows you to visually see the connections between them. This is a great tool to use when trying to understand how all the different words and concepts in a topic fit together.
Chemistry is a subject that you really need to be able to understand and not just rely on memorization. The best tip for succeeding in general chemistry is to find a way to fully understand the concept and not just memorize it. If you only memorize the concept, studying organic chemistry or for really any other science course in the future will be significantly harder. If you are looking for the best textbooks, check out our article on the best organic chemistry textbooks here.
Teach a concept to a friend
Teaching a concept to a friend or explaining how you got to an answer is a great way to check if you truly understood what you did or what you would need to do. It’s one thing to be able to repeat the same wording of practice problems, but many professors like to change up the wording from the practice problems to the tests. This is a super easy way for them to check if you are actually comprehending and understanding the material or if you are just memorizing the examples.
Quiz yourself with extra practice problems
Quizzing yourself with practice problems beyond just what your professor gives you is a great way to fully understand the material instead of just memorizing the wording of the problems. Most textbooks have some extra review questions at the end of each section and some have more at the back. These are a great resource, especially when you’re studying for a quiz, test, or exam.
Review before class as well as after
You may think that reviewing your lecture notes after class is enough for most subjects, but one of the best tips we can give you for studying chemistry on your own is to read the chapter in your textbook before class. This will give you a slight familiarity with the material that will be covered before you go in. That way, you are more likely to understand some of the concepts faster during class since this will be the second time that you have been exposed to them and allow you to better hone in your specific questions.
This is a great tip to use for any challenging course, but especially any science or math course that relies heavily on a textbook. It might be frustrating to read a textbook of material that you haven’t covered and don’t really understand at the moment, but it really can help you comprehend the material better in the long run. Chemistry reading can be dense and boring, but also super helpful.
Use office hours
One of the most underutilized resources in college is office hours. Your professors make themselves available to you so that you can ask questions. You can ask questions about a course, about a project, or even just about their research. This is a time for you to pick your professor’s brain on anything.
Learning to use office hours to your advantage is an often overlooked skill when you first get to college, but it can really help you out throughout your tenure at the school. Asking questions of your professors can help you narrow your scope of the study for a test, quiz, or exam, but it will also show your professors how much you are trying. Being an actively engaged student means that your professor is more likely to be a little generous with helping you and sometimes will even give you the benefit of the doubt and give you a better grade if you’re on the cusp of two grades.
Getting to know your professors and going to office hours in your first few years is also a great way to express interest in and dedication to a subject. This sets you up well to be able to do research with them or even just ask career advice later on in your college career. Don’t underestimate the impact that a positive relationship with your professors can have on your life.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for Chemistry in College
Hopefully, some of these chemistry tips and tricks will help you feel more prepared going into your first college-level chemistry course or getting through whatever chemistry course is kicking your butt right now. Chemistry isn’t an easy subject, but with these tips, it is manageable. Remember to not be too hard on yourself; even with these tips, chemistry can still be a challenge for many people, but the more you work at it, the easier it will become.