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P-Chem Advice

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by NE_Cornhusker1, Sep 26, 2001.

  1. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2001
    The Cornhusker State
    Here's the dilemma, drop a. Physical Chemistry b. Get 'W' on transcript c. Not graduate until August OR tough it out and get at best a C-. My cum. and sci. gpa is already nice and low (3.0 for both). Does anybody have any advice on how to succeed in P-Chem?
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  3. grasshopper

    grasshopper Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    I'm taking it right now as well. I find that the things that work best are the same things as worked in freshman chemistry. I don't know about you, but our class has been pretty heavily thermodynamics so far, and, unfortunately, they don't let you ignore the calculus this time around, right? So if the derivations are giving you trouble, spend some quality time with your calc II book. Once you can repeat the derivations by yourself, just work the book's practice problems over and over again. That actually helps me, although it may seem redundant. If your prof is helpful, you might even ask him to watch you work a problem while explaining what you're thinking, and then he can tell you what more useful ways to think of it might be. I don't know; I agree that it's tough--those are just my best ideas. Sorry, no insight about dropping vs. getting a C. Maybe somebody else has an opinion. Good luck!
  4. moo

    moo 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 4, 2000
    Just be glad you're not taking statistical mechanics!

    Seriously though, although I never took Pchem, I took the physics equivalent, thermodynamics and I hated it. I am taking stat mech right now, and I hate it even more. My only advice to you is to read the text slowly and actively with pencil and paper in hand. Follow the derivations thoroughly and slowly and make sure at the end of a derivation you know what the formula represents and how to use it. The key to understanding is to understand three things:

    1) Definitions: It is important to read and re-read precisely (in mathematical terms) what specific words mean. It is equally important to understand the MOTIVATION for making such definitions so that you don't get lost in subsequent uses in derivations. Also, it helps to have a physical intuition as to what the terms are saying. For instance, it is important to know the motivation for why the Gibbs free energy is defined the way it's defined. For otherwise, it is just another scary term that you cannot pinpoint the physical significance of.

    2) Theorems and formulas: Make sure you understand how the derivations were done; what steps were taken, the logic behind each step, and the justification of each step. It might seem pointless but it goes a long way in helping you understand the stuff.

    3) Problems! Do problems. Do problems. Do problems. Did I mention do problems?

    Good luck, and have fun!
  5. mongoose

    mongoose Banned Banned

    Dec 1, 2000
    Lexington, KY
    I am taking Biophysical Chem right now and, although it is tough, it is starting to be more intuitive at this point. I have worked so many problems that it is scary, though. Just stick in there, review calculus, and work problems. It is kind of like Organic Chem in that it just requires a lot of time and effort. At least that is my opinion. But you know what they say about opinions, don't you?
  6. Hopkins2010

    Hopkins2010 Banned Banned

    Nov 5, 1999
    Baltimore, Maryland
    I'm taking Pchem right now also.

    My thoughts are that you really have to read the chapters and not just memorize the formulas or calculus derivations.

    Like grasshopper, my class is heavily focused on thermodynamics right now. The trick with thermo is to understand that no matter what formula you are using, there are always base assumptions that you are relying on in order to make your strategy valid.

    Dont memorize the formulas, just memorize the very basic calculus defitions of the thermodynamic properties and then spend a great deal of time assumptions involved (i.e. adiabatic, reversible, isothermic, isenthalpic, etc). Then if you are aware of all the different flavors of assumptions, its not too difficult to derive the expression on the fly.
  7. Hopkins2010

    Hopkins2010 Banned Banned

    Nov 5, 1999
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Let me just add that the thermo covered in pchem is a lot like engineering problems, and that many chem profs dont really approach it in the most effective fashion.

    I took an engineering thermodynamics class, which covers some of the same topics in pchem, just not from a molecular standpoint. In thermo, you cant just dive in with equations right from the start, you really need to spend a moment thinking and diagramming the problem out. There are usually several different routes to get to a valid answer, depending on your basic assumptions.

    It seems like most chem profs tend not to do a good job of setting up the background before tackling the problem.
  8. doepug

    doepug Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I got a C ... a big fat C ... in P-Chem. It was the hardest class I ever took in college. I didn't have the greatest GPA (believe me), but I made it to med school, and am now a second year student at Johns Hopkins. Do the best you can. Learn all you can. Med school ad coms won't deny you admission based on your performance in one class.

    Good luck,

    MS II, Johns Hopkins

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