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How to get an A in Physical Chemistry?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jv00927, Oct 17, 2005.

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  1. jv00927

    jv00927 Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Hi y'all! I'm in need of advise on how to get an A in physical chemistry. I got a D+ on the first test (which actually above average (mean was 60%)). The class is just so dry for me. I'm just confused out of my mind whenever I read the book or listen to my professor. Please help! :eek:
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  3. nev

    nev Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Hey...this is jsut out of curiosity......is Physical Chemistry much harder than organic chemistry? Is there a lot of memorizing and stuff?
  4. TicAL

    TicAL Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    No one is allowed to get an A in physical chemistry.
  5. Blue Planet

    Blue Planet Statistics Major 5+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2005
    I'm a big believer in the Schaum's series: you can probably check out the Schaum's outline for physical chemistry. The book gives a concise overview of all the concepts and equations you need to know.
  6. Darth Asclepius

    Darth Asclepius Dark Lord of the Sith 5+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2005
    I thought pchem was easier than ochem, but I'm better at learning and applying concepts and worse at memorizing. Pchem has some pretty tough concepts, but if you can master them, you can apply them to almost any problem the professor throws at you. Don't get me wrong, pchem was one of the hardest classes I ever took. I just prefer that type of learning over ochem and biochem. Most of my classmates thought biochem for majors was much easier than pchem.

    The key to doing well in pchem is keeping up and working lots of problems. At least in the class I took, if you couldn't apply what you learned, you were doomed, so you have to keep working problems to see if you can apply the knowledge or if you can't, to learn how to. If you find the material too boring to listen to or read, work some problems instead. Work the problems in the book. Work any problems the professor gives you. At least then, you'll have to learn what you need to know to work the problem at hand. It will keep you actively learning. Hang in there because there are some drastically different topics covered in pchem and some might be much more interesting/easier for you. For example, I loved the thermodynamics stuff but had a hell of a time wrapping my brain around the stuff about planes of symmetry in molecules (I have a hard time thinking in 3-D and had to get a molecular modeling kit to sort through that stuff). Also, if you're beating the mean, you'll do alright. Most classes like that at least set the mean at a C (and sometimes a C+) since at that point you are dealing with students who are high up in their majors (mostly chem or biochem majors) and they don't want to fail too many of them. See if your professor plans to grade on a curve. Good luck.
  7. medstu2006

    medstu2006 Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 1, 2005
    Organic is thousand times easier than P.Chem. A good way to prepare for P.Chem is to review your Gen. Chem book for basics since P.Chem is an in-depth analysis of basic concepts in Gen Chem. Also, after a certain point, I will try not to understand it anymore and just memorize. If you are not going to be a chemist, P.Chem is basically worthless. It's all made up anyways.
  8. werd

    werd Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2004
    so if you loved ochem you'll probably hate pchem and if you hated ochem you just might like pchem. it sort of depends what sort of pchem you're in.. if you're in the pchem for engineers (complicated derivations and uses calc III material) then i would focus on the derivations and "fundamental assumptions" that go with each model. answering questions at the end of chapters helped me a lot. basically pchem is a hard course... i pulled off A's but it was the hardest course sequence i took to get my biochemistry degree. at least take comfort that this is probably the peak difficulty in whatever major you're doing (except chem engineer...). cheers.
  9. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee. Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I got an A in PChem. Having a TON of math classes helps - especially complex variable calculus. Group theory helps, linear algebra helps. I wish i'd taken abstract algebra before I dove into symmetry groups in PChem.

    I thought pchem was TONS easier than biochem (but no one else that had taken both classes ever agreed with my opinion).
  10. penguinophile

    penguinophile MetalHead Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    hSDN Member
    Its all about the curve. Period. Unless you are a math/physics GOD, you cannot "earn" an A.
  11. Maerad

    Maerad Banned Banned

    Oct 9, 2005
    Urban Jungle
    It's entirely possbile to obtain an A in P.Chem. I found taking higher division physics and math classes (Q.Mech, Therm, Diff. EQ, etc) to be extremely helpful.

    People often talk about how difficult organic, pchem, and even quant are, and I never quite understood their complaints. Believe me, I'm no genius, but it always seemed to me that the difficulty was not so much in the material itself, but rather, in learning how to study for these courses. Unlike other subjects, you cannot cram even the week before the exam and expect to do well (A-level material). Studying Pchem, like studying organic, has got to be a daily task so that you understand the reasoning behind the math or the synthesis or whatever the case may be. If you've got that, you're golden because you can roll up your sleeves, apply some logic, and pretty darn well work your way through any test problem you'll see.
  12. Hoberto

    Hoberto Squirrel Girl 10+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    I agree with what's been said so far...do lots of problems. If your book sucks go to the library and try to find one that is better. Then do the problems in that book. If you are in the engineering PChem know all the functions on your calculator and how to use them. This can be invaluable if you have one of those profs that likes to give twice as many problems that can be completed in the exam time. The key is lots of problems. So, you'll have at least seen a similar problem to the ones on the exams. If you have homeworks get complete solutions to them even if it means pestering the prof everyday.

    Personally, I thought OChem was much worse than PChem and Thermo. Now, is Biochem more like PChem or OChem?
  13. Darth Asclepius

    Darth Asclepius Dark Lord of the Sith 5+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2005
    I thought biochem was much more like ochem than pchem.
  14. Hoberto

    Hoberto Squirrel Girl 10+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2005

    Guess I'll wait 'til med school to take it then.
  15. Slide

    Slide 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2005
    I'm taking PChem right now, and to me, Orgo and PChem are about the same. What Darth Asclepius is correct; PChem is more about applying logical, mathematical concepts, while Orgo is more about applying memorized concepts. For me, PChem is a little easier because since it's math-based, it's more intuitive and easier to see. I personally think the geometric concepts of PChem are much easier than Orgo; i.e. point groups and character tables.

    Also, the difficulty of PChem lies with your professor and how he chooses to grade. My PChem professor shows us the math, but doens't expect to take it to high levels. At most, we do a typical integration or derivative, or set up the equation (a lot of things in PChem cannot be solved with current analytical tools, esp. in the Quantum section, which may be good or bad for you). Our professor is primarily concerned to approaching the concepts as chemists, not quantum physicits or mathematicians, so it's easier for me (but screws over all the engineers in my class :laugh: ). Also, our curve is not as strict as orgo; my curve for orgo was a C, and only half the class got above/around the C. For PChem, its curved around a B.

    All in all, it depends on what kind of person you are (better at memorizing or being analytical) and the professor's style.
  16. MercyKillerDoc

    MercyKillerDoc Banned Banned

    May 19, 2005
    To get an A in physical chemistry you firstly need to figure out how the teacher has designed their grading system. Some teachers design their tests/grading to benefit those who are the most intelligent. If teacher has designed their system in this way and you are not smart enough your chance of getting an A is not too high. If your teacher has designed their system to benefit the person that kisses the most ass and works the hardest then you just need to start the anus licking and ball busting.
  17. little_late_MD

    little_late_MD Ready To Jump 5+ Year Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    South Florida
    :( Supremely intelligent post. I applaud your wisdom.
  18. jebus

    jebus Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    Yes, problems are key. If your professor won't give you any extras (I had one who refused, she was a turd and I hated her) check other school's websites. Other professors will/do post lots of review materials. It's just a matter of finding one professor who does and who asks questions similar to your professor's.
  19. nev

    nev Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Which is worse (in terms of difficulty), biochem or o-chem?
  20. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee. Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Absolutely, without a doubt, no holds barred, sucked the life out of me, BIOCHEM was the biggest b!tch next to advanced calc. O chem wasn't bad at all. But biochem... that truly sucked.

    However, I know someone in my class who failed Ochem, went to the state school across the mountains and took biochem and aced it 'easily'. Said it was the easiest class she'd taken in a while. But all her exams were multiple choice... my biochem exams were all essay and diagraming, and if you missed one small detail you got docked BIG TIME. The prof was totally awesome - he just expected a TON of information.
  21. Darth Asclepius

    Darth Asclepius Dark Lord of the Sith 5+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2005
    It might depend on the biochem course. I took the biochem for majors sequence at a school where the biochem department takes pride in being difficult, so for me biochem was A LOT harder than ochem. My tests were also essay style tests and we had to draw out crazy mechanisms, like ShyRem said. I knew some people who took the 3 credit biochem and they thought it was hard, but I never heard them complaining about it taking over their lives or anything.
  22. Nikki2002

    Nikki2002 Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    It's all about the math--if you rock math, you will rock physics. But if you're better at descriptive stuff (like bio, o-chem) then you'll probably cry like a little baby everytime you take an exam. also, it depends if you have an evil professor--some professors are much easier than others.
  23. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc. 10+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2004
    The Best Coast
    Just don't take it, taking some more bio chem classes well help you later in med school then pchem. If you have to take then change your major so you don't have to take it. For most premed (big memorizers) it well lower your gpa, except for those who like physics and math might excel at it.

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