The Eight Commandments for Success in General Chemistry

1. Learning chemistry is like learning a new language.  To become reasonably proficient in a relatively short period of time, frequent practice such as solving problems, drawing structures, rewriting and correcting notes, and, when the occasion demands, memorizing are essential.

2. Know your math! General chemistry relies heavily on mathematical skills.  If you have weak math skills, you should seek assistance.

3. Prepare for class!  Read the chapter scheduled to be covered before coming to lecture.  Understanding will not occur on the first exposure to new material, therefore if the lecture presentation is your second sighting of the concepts, your understanding will be much better.  You will also be prepared to ask questions about complex ideas.

4. Lectures are important!  Skipping lecture will guarantee failure.  The lecture and the textbook serve complementary roles.  The lectures are meant to highlight concepts, simplify difficulties and expand on implications.  In lecture you should be attentive.  A mature student will transcribe not only what the instructor writes on the board, but also what the instructor says.

5. Apply your knowledge!  Doing problems is the quickest way to discover whether your understanding is incomplete or incorrect.

6. Write things down! Perform problem solving with a pen and paper.  Most people remember things they have written down far better than those they have merely read or thought about.  Preparation of your own "flash cards", summaries or checklists can be an additional useful activity.  Rewriting lecture notes can also be helpful.

7. Study regularly!  Consistent study of chemistry is essential for success.  Simply studying two days before the exam will make failure likely.

8.  Ask questions!  There is no such thing as a bad question.  You pay good money to attend this school, so take advantage of the instructor's understanding and availability.