Inevitably, Chemistry at any level is easily one of the hardest classes offered at UVA, including the major. If you are coming to UVA hoping to major in Chemistry or you are on the pre-med track, or you just need to knock off that irritating science requirement for your curriculum, CHEM 1410 will/or might be your only option. Whether you are a first year or a fourth year, you may need this guide in order to survive the horrors that is Intro to Chemistry I.
1. Choose the Right Professor
Most people at UVA who have to take a science class know or come to know that there are only four professors currently who teach Chemistry 1410. Each professor has a distinct ability and technique that can make or break your grade and some professors in particular are notorious for breaking that grade. While there are some professors that students dread having taken their class, there are other students that thank the good Lord every night that they got the best professor. Easy way to find which one is the best one- The Course Forum. This will help you easily avoid the wait list.
2. Attend the Lectures (Remember the iClickers!)
Going to class can be extremely hard when some of the lectures seem pointless and you’ll probably end up having to reading the whole chapter on the Tro textbook or watch a bunch of Khan Academy videos. The trick is, however, if you don’t attend a lot of the lectures, then you’ll end up losing a lot of participation points which comes from using iClickers to answer questions in class. While it can be painful, participation can help quite a lot and could even make up about 14% of your grade. At the end of the day, students who go to most of the lectures do the best on the midterms and final.
3. Do Mastering Chemistry On Time
Mastering Chemistry is an online site where you submit your homework. Some professors in the Chemistry department are different. While others give you full credit for turning in your Mastering Chemistry (MC) late, others give you 0% credit. Either way, do it on time. Many people who turned in their homework at the last minute during finals week were staying up until around 3am trying to get it done. Doing it during the time when it’s relevant to your lesson can help you a lot with practice and during your midterms if your teacher is human enough to make them somewhat similar (some are not). Either way, save yourself the grief and don’t procrastinate.
4. Read. The. Textbook.
Whichever textbook your professors require you to buy for the class, that is the sole book with the information your tests and quizzes are based on. Some teachers use obscure online textbooks while most use the common ones like the Chemistry Tro edition. Either way, reading the textbook is the closest way inside your teacher’s brain aside from lectures. Sometimes it can be strenuous reading the lengthy paragraphs, but what can help is after each section, do practice problems on that specific topic and watch videos for a better visual aid. This will really help from getting headaches and take in and apply information better.
5. Know The Basics
Sadly, Chemistry is very cumulative and you have to know the basics before you can get to the difficult stuff. Word of advice, understanding the first few units given to you in the beginning will determine how you will do for the rest of semester. If you don’t understand what you are doing in the beginning, then you will not do very well as the course becomes more intensive. The best thing to do is to ask yourself at each topic why this is happening, and what is the cause of this reaction etc. Understanding the cause and effects is the best way to understand the fundamentals. Oh, and knowing conversions between units is basically what you do a lot of the time in 1410 so better get on that too.
Understand that chemistry is not a walk in the park. You are literally attempting to understand the properties of substances, matter, atoms and how they function. This can be so convoluted you think to yourself “what am I even reading?!”. The key to success and understanding is working hard so you can earn that grade. When it gets difficult, its okay to take break and relax your mind, but don’t give up. Sometimes even your best is not good enough, but remember, Chem Is Try.
Remember: keep pushing and strive for your best. Never forget what you are aiming for because we all know, Cs get degrees. Look forward to that great feeling you will have when you’ve passed the course and never have to take 1410 again (except science people, it only gets quite hard from here).