Struggling to memorise the periodic table, recalling the atomic numbers of elements, practising chemical reactions, recollecting the colour of a solution — we’ve all been there. We’ve all spent many nights wondering ‘Why is Chemistry hard?’, ‘How can I pass Chemistry?’
While it is important for you to know that you are not alone, you must also remember that every expert was once a beginner. Chemistry is considered a difficult subject for a variety of reasons but by adapting effective study techniques you will eventually get better at it. Like an ideal chemical reaction — it takes the right amount of study, practice, and patience to get you the desired results.
Chemistry is a progressive subject — this means that what you study today is the foundation of what you are to learn tomorrow. Therefore, if you are unclear about your previous chapters, you are less likely to comprehend the next one.
On one hand, Chemistry includes mathematics and algebra to solve chemical equations and reactions. On the other hand, it offers a diverse world of atoms — with its orbits and shells that determine everything about the behaviour of a particle. Chemistry is one such subject that requires you to switch between logical and abstract thinking or use both simultaneously. Hence, it is a given that understanding concepts that equally involve logic and abstract thinking definitely takes time.
1. Study Smart
The first step to getting better at anything is to assess objectively. Take some time to assess the topics you find easy and identify the chapters that are challenging for you. A great way to do this is by revisiting your performance in the previous exam. Reattempt all the questions that you found difficult and analyse where you need to improve. This will help you gain insights on where you need to focus your attention — you will know if you need to strengthen your skills in mathematics or memorise the elements and their atomic numbers better. In addition to identifying your weaknesses, you will also gain a clear understanding of your strengths, which ultimately makes you more confident about your study method.
2. Prepare Before Each Class
A tried and tested study strategy is to prepare for the next class the previous night. Go through your Chemistry textbook and try to learn the concepts that your teacher is expected to start in the upcoming class. Reading the study material beforehand gives you context — which helps you learn more efficiently during class hours. This way, even if you have unresolved doubts at the end of a class, you can get them cleared immediately with your teacher. This method of learning is called ‘Flipped Classroom’ — proven effective to make you productive and consistent.
3. Make Notes
In addition to attending classes and understanding the concepts in your textbooks, what can surely come handy during exams are your notes. The next time you attend a class, make sure you write down important points explained by your teacher — not just the ones written on the board.
Your notes don’t have to be long sentences with perfect grammar, they can be simple bullet points, as long as it comprehends what is being taught in class. You can always go back to your textbook to improve on certain points that seem unclear to you.
Writing down always helps memorise better — which is much needed, especially with dozens of important formulas and reactions involved in Chemistry. Keep your notes neat, organised, and legible — this makes them more effective, helping you recall the lessons and prepare efficiently before exams.
4. Join A Study Group
Time and again, study groups have proven to be a fun yet effective way of learning. A great study group can indeed do wonders for your grades. In times of the pandemic, it certainly is challenging to physically meet for a study session. But technology always saves the day!
Connect with your peers on a conference video call and block at least 2-3 hours every week. It would be ideal if you could regroup on the same day of the week, at the same time to make group study a habit. You can plan a study group with 3-6 of your classmates who are equally focused and dedicated to learning and improving in Chemistry. Prepare well before each group session to make it more productive — to understand, explain, gain different perspectives, and solve problems with your peers.
5. Study Every Day
Patience pays, always! So, don’t be discouraged if your efforts don’t reflect immediately in your next Chemistry test. Remember how you started with just learning the alphabet but now you write page-long essays? Did you learn that overnight? No, it takes time. But what matters most is consistency. Remain committed to your goal of improving and continue working towards it. Eventually, you will develop an affinity towards the subject and it will no longer be taxing to balance chemical equations or a struggle to remember the colour, temperature, or the state of the resulting products.
Above all, never forget to take a moment to appreciate your own efforts. Make it a point to recognise how far you have come. This not only motivates you but also strengthens your confidence, gradually helping you grow and excel.
Which tip did you find the most useful? Do share with us in the comments below!
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