SAT Chemistry Test Strategy: Formulas

Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Did you know chemical formulas are like the blueprint towards understanding the principles of chemistry? Continue reading to learn about the different chemical formulas you should know when taking the SAT chemistry test.

Strategizing the Chemistry Way

Imagine you are sitting in front of the screen about to take the SAT chemistry subject test. Your palms are a little sweaty and to top it off you are trying to remember all the useful chemistry formulas for the exam. Boyles law and the ideal gas equation you recall easily. But what about the equilibrium constant for water or percent yield?

Knowing the principles of chemistry ensures you fully understand why a chemistry equation was created. As you study these principles more and more, they will eventually become second nature such as the process you learned to tie your shoe. This process started out as a complicated task but as you tied your shoe more often it became second nature.

This concept applies to learning principles in chemistry too. Although this is by far the best strategy to use when taking the SAT chemistry test, committing a few chemical formulas to memory may also be useful.

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Never should you feel pressured to walk into your exam with loads of formulas memorized. Certainly your mind will feel completely overloaded. Also, have you seen the chemical equations lately? They can get pretty complicated; some are very long with multiple variables. But no need to fear! Let's walk through a few important formulas that are helpful to remember and discuss unique ways to commit them to memory.

Chemical Formulas To Know

Without a doubt, you should always start with strategy #1: understand the principles and theories of chemistry for each equation you encounter. This allows you to solve some problems without the use of a calculator. It also helps you recall the chemistry formulas you need to know.

This leads us to strategy #2: group your chemical formulas according to their subject matter. If you encounter a problem that talks about gases, you need to find the relevant chemical formulas related to this subject.

Shown below are important equations you should try to memorize. Keep in mind they are grouped according to subject matter based on the topics covered in the SAT chemistry subject test:

Category 1: States of Matter

1. Density = mass/volume

2. Boyle's Law: P1 V1= P2 V2

  • where pressure (P) is inversely proportional to the volume (V)

3. Charles's Law: V1 T2 = V2 T1

  • where volume is proportional to temperature

4. Ideal gas equation: pV = nRT.

  • Encompasses all gas law relationships into one general equation.
  • P = pressure, V = volume, n = number of mols, R = ideal gas constant of 8.314J/Mol/K, T = Temperature

5. Molarity = moles of solute / liter of solution

6. Percent mass composition = (mass of element / mass of compound) x 100

7. Percent yield = (actual yield / expected yield) x 100

Category 2: Acids and Bases

Remember that pH measures the hydrogen ions in a solution and pOH measures the OH ions or alkalinity.

ph + pOH = 14

pH = -log(H+)

  • where H+ is your acid (hydrogen ion concentration)

pOH = -log(OH-)

  • where OH- is your base (hydroxide ion concentration)

Category 3: Equilibrium

Keq (constant at equilibrium) finds the ratio of products/reactants for a reaction at equilibrium.


equil


equil eq


1. Equilibrium constant for water: K = (H)(OH) = 1 x10-14

2. Reaction rate: Rate = k(A)x(B)y

Category 4: Thermochemistry

1. Spontaneity:


gibbs


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