How to Study for Chemistry in College

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Find out how to study for your college chemistry classes with this article. You'll get information about the general amount of time you should study, study techniques and additional resources.

Focus on Reading

Make sure that you're completing all of your assigned readings. You should pay attention to bolded terms and take note of the definitions that appear in your text. Working with your textbook will also allow you to quickly identify any concepts you don't understand. If you run across something you can't figure out, make sure you bring it up to your instructor so he or she can clarify the point.

  • Tip: Work on staying on schedule. Most chemistry courses include a lot of reading. If you miss a week, it can be very hard to get caught up again.

Practice Solving Problems

Completing the practice questions in your text book is a great way to make sure you're absorbing what you're learning. You should also make sure you complete any practice sheets or homework assignments your instructor assigns. Some instructors will offer exams from previous classes that you can work on. You can even check out different chemistry books and solve the problems you find there.

While you're working on these problems, make sure you're solving them properly. Focus on solving the problem without looking for hints or tips, which won't be available to you on test day.

  • Tip: Take some time to make sure you understand the math skills needed for solving chemistry problems. If you're not comfortable with algebra, you're going to have a harder time completing your chemistry coursework.

Employ Memorization

Chemistry is full of scientific terms and many of them sound very similar. Taking the time to memorize this information should be an important aspect of your chemistry study time. You should write down any unfamiliar terms in your lecture, as well as any terms your instructor says will be important. Look up the meanings for these terms later and record them.

You should also get familiar with the common suffixes and prefixes involved with chemistry terms. Understanding what these mean can make working your way through unfamiliar terms a lot easier.

Additionally, flashcards are a great study tool. Write the term you need to practice on one side of the card and a brief description on the other. You can work on these as much as you want to build up your memory!

  • Tip: See if you can work with your classmates. Quizzing each other and talking these concepts out can greatly improve the effectiveness of your study time.

Plan Your Time

Studying for a chemistry course might take some planning. Keep in mind that many instructors recommend that you spend at least 2 hours studying for every hour of lecture time, and some weeks you may need more. You also need time for your reading, for checking your notes and for any study groups that you may attend.

  • Tip: Take some breaks while you study. Cramming can be tempting, but it often makes it harder to remember complicated concepts. Focusing on something different for a while can help you re-approach the material with fresh eyes.

Keep Studying Online

You have the option to reinforce what you're learning in your classes and labs through online study guides. These guides include short video lessons that help you review any chemistry concepts you might be struggling with. You can test yourself with interactive quizzes and contact chemistry experts with any questions you have. Get ready to study:

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