How to Study for Chemistry in College

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how to study chemistry in college


  • You must understand underlying concepts to master college chemistry. It’s a mistake to focus solely on memorizing the periodic table and mathematical formulas
  • Students who master chemistry spend a lot of time studying. Many students feel unable to learn chemistry, but any student willing to work hard can learn it. Plan on studying at least 15 hours a week, especially if you do not have a chemistry background
  • Don’t get discouraged if you’re constantly confused. Even experts get stumped by difficult problems
  • Clear up confusions by reviewing lecture notes and working step-by-step through problems. Never hesitate asking the teacher or a peer tutor for help
  • Working through confusing problems improves problem-solving skills that can be applied to more difficult classes


  • Prepare for lectures by reviewing notes from previous classes and reading the textbook. You’ll be better prepared for lectures
  • Leave space available in your notebook to jot down insights from reading the textbook
  • Effectively organize notes, so time is not wasted trying to locate concepts
  • Immediately review notes following lectures. Clarify confusing topics with your textbook. Analyze the main concepts discussed during lectures

Reading the Textbooks

  • Clarify confusing textbook chapters by reading simple online summaries
  • Master main concepts bolded in the textbook or listed in the class syllabus
  • Learn how minor concepts relate to underlying ones
  • Highlight key text and jot margin notes
  • Utilize visual aids to better comprehend text
  • Accept the fact that it takes a lot of time to understand concepts in chemistry textbooks. Some students spend up to hour reading 3-5 pages
  • Work through sample problems listed in textbooks
  • Take time to review charts, diagrams, and mathematical formulas

Homework & Studying

  • Complete numerous sample problems while studying. After a lot of practice, you should be able to easily solve problems
  • If you get a problem wrong, take time to determine the mistakes you made
  • Utilize flashcards to memorize equations and the periodic table
  • Organize study groups to teach classmates what you understand. Students within study groups share useful insights with group members
  • Practice various types of problems while preparing for tests
  • Don’t cram for tests. Set aside time each day to study chemistry
  • Complete multiple practice tests before test day. If practice tests are not available, complete practice problems listed in chapter reviews


  • Get sufficient sleep the night prior to test day
  • Save time by completing problems you understand first
  • Most tests contain complex problems. Don’t panic. Complete these problems after finishing easier ones. Show your work since teachers often give partial credit
  • Learn from previous test mistakes by reviewing incorrect answers and working though missed problems

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