priyanka

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Now that I've been cautioned,
Would my seniors mind giving me some tips of doing well in the lab courses?

*bows with respect*
 

LizH

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Be very careful to take good notes....instructors want detail, detail, detail.
Most importantly, DON'T RUSH!!!! Take your time, do it right the first time so you don't have to do it over. Patience is the most important virtue to possess when trying to get through a tough lab. And sometimes is just takes luck. :luck: :luck:
 

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priyanka said:
Now that I've been cautioned,
Would my seniors mind giving me some tips of doing well in the lab courses?

*bows with respect*
if u want to get an A for sure, I'd go to a lot of office hours and ask about the lab report you do. I used to try to get started on the lab report after I got out of the lab so that way in like 5 days I wouldn't forget it. also i'd have it ready to go see if it's what the lab instructor wanted. they're usually pretty good at saying "this is what i want and you have it"

just show some dedication. that's what they want.
 
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Crete

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priyanka said:
Now that I've been cautioned,
Would my seniors mind giving me some tips of doing well in the lab courses?

*bows with respect*
Lab reports were the bane of my existance. My last TA was a cool guy, but before that not the same story. Go to the first 2 office hours and make sure you know word for word how the reports are to be, including intro, circling answers vs. boxing them, sig figs count, all that b.s.. Next, make sure your results are reproduceable (i.e. do everything the first few weeks SLOWLY until you're a pro). This is also key if there is a huge lab practical like I had, just go slowly initially so you get precision BUT once you get there don't change any methods for the prac. Lastly, go to office hours before the test
(professor). In a lab class most people get screwed with the tests and the grades from actual lab don't vary much. This is because a professor can ask a question about a billion things from theory to practice you do in lab, and some gunner always asks a question in OH or the prof explains a difficult concept that others don't have the luxury of hearing. Labs are easy if you spend an additional 30 min going to TA office hours the first 2 weeks and an additional 30 min in prof's OH before the test.
 

AStudent

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I've gotten a 4.0 in every lab I've ever taken.....ever. And there's two principles that, if followed properly, will ensure that you get a 4.0, or A, or whatever your undergrad institution gives. (scroll down)

CEM 161 Gen I
CEM 162 Gen II
CEM 255 Organic
BS 110 Bio I
BS 111L Bio II
PSY 251 Physics 1
PSY 252 Physics 2
CEM 262 Quan Anal.
CEM 333 Instrumental Methods




1) Prepare for the lab ahead of time, this is by far the most important. It means making sure you have needed supplies the night before, and READ AND UNDERSTAND the lab before you go, that way you can use your time more efficiently and get a better grade. I can't tell you how many times in 161 and 162 I was done before everyone else was still asking "how do I do this part??"

2) Go home after the lab and immediately do your lab report, don't wait until 3-4 days later to write everything, that way you don't forget your data and if you screw up you can always go visit your prof.
 

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I was a lab TA so i'll tell you from my experience what I thought was the most important.

First, make sure you read the experiment before actually going to lab, even if you dont have to write a pre-lab. It may seem stupid but you'd be surprised at the number of the people who dont read the lab procedure. Second, make sure to cover the necessary information in the textbook so that you are aware of the content knowledge. Lastly, think critically. If you have a significant error I would like to know why. Dont ask for assistance until you've taken the time to reason out your problem on your own. Its not so much that you obtain the perfect yield or the best titration. I want you to know why you are performing the experiment AND the expected turn out. Hope this helps
 

physiclas87

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You guys, I want to thank you so much!!! The advise is absolutely great!!! I love SDN!!!!

I have a couple of questions: what do you mean "go to office hours"? What would you ask?
 

AStudent

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Calculations, how to do them, how many sig figs, if the TA is doing anything later on that night, whatever.

Just make sure the TA knows your face.

physiclas87 said:
You guys, I want to thank you so much!!! The advise is absolutely great!!! I love SDN!!!!

I have a couple of questions: what do you mean "go to office hours"? What would you ask?
 

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physiclas87 said:
You guys, I want to thank you so much!!! The advise is absolutely great!!! I love SDN!!!!

I have a couple of questions: what do you mean "go to office hours"? What would you ask?
And sometimes the lab books (especially if written by the prof) are really unclear or skip steps, so ask about anything you don't understand.

Don't expect the lab to correlate with the lecture, it might, but might not.

Never miss a lab.

And ask what the related equations are, what they mean, where else might they be used, etc.

I swear I got an A in orgo lab b/c out of 30 people I was the only one who read the manual for one experiment, and discovered the really important scientific fact I HAD to know for the next day - so happily went to lab and brought my own d*** PAPER CLIP. Yes, it all turned on a paper clip.
 

AStudent

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1a) PACK YOUR DAMN LAB GOGGLES THE NIGHT BEFORE
1B) Lay out your clothes the night before, no shorts or open toed shoes!!

I saw a kid get a zero on a lab because he was wearing shorts the first week in April, kid was a gunner, I was :D
 

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If you go to a school that's really ruthless about labs (I do) here's the story:

1.) Always go over the lab ahead of time--you have to write it out anyway in order to do it--but don't just copy it word for word out of the manual (some TAs deduct for this). Draw out all the data sheets ahead of time so you can just fill them in later.

2.) Go to TA hours before the lab. YOu can usually get an idea what is important. If you have super-TA's (ie Teaching Associates) go to their office hours too, because they'll usually point out what is important, and this is what is on the quiz usually the next week.

3.) Read up in the textbook before hand (ie if you're doing HPLC, look up the chromatography stuff in your text)

4.) Write it up immediately afterwards. Be really anal about your lab notebook as you go along--I use a three color system (black for my pre-write, blue for charts, notes, ect. pre-lab, and red for intra-lab observations and data. This helps, I really do recommend it.

5.) Haunt your TA, go to his/her office hours, they seem to appreciate it when you show that you care.

6.) The quizzes are the hardest part (here anyway, but I think this is the same anywhere). Consult multiple textbooks, because the quizzes usually test minutiae. Know lab lecture notes and manual details inside and out. Do all practice problems. Try to do as many practice problems as possible before the lab and ask questions during the lab that help you answer these questions.

7.) PICK A GOOD LAB PARTNER! If you go somewhere where there are a lot of postbaccs in the class, always work with a postbacc (even if you're an undergrad) we always prepare well, if anything to a fault. Also, in group-style labs (for example HPLC which you do in a group of 8 or so) the older post-baccs will usually take over the lab and try to impress the TA. Free-load off of them; you'll look like a gunner just by association (and TA's like hardworking students, just never bitch about your grade and look like a gunner). If you're a postbacc, don't work with undergrads--they have other classes to worry about, go out during the week and don't prepare for the labs, etc.--I've seen undergrads doing their writeup during lecture, which I totally understand (because I too, was once 18) but you want somebody who can fill in whatever you don't know, so go with the must gunerish person possible.

Sounds pretty gunneresque, but anybody who's done GChem lab here knows that that's the minimum to make a B+. To get the A, you really have to ace the quizzes, which means lots of outside research.

Good luck.

Edit:
Additional note: 8.) Remember all those ridiculous "250" canvas bags we got during orientation? Put your lab coat, goggles, combination lock, and drawer keys in one and use it just for lab, that way you'll never forget any of you things.
 

45408

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I too have very good lab grades.

Don't worry about labs too much or spend too much time working on them - they don't count towards your grade enough. If you're wasting your time - leave. That's what I did during my last cell bio lab. My time is worth more than that. Excel is your very best friend - chemistry, physics, biology - doesn't matter.
 

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TheProwler said:
I too have very good lab grades.

Don't worry about labs too much or spend too much time working on them - they don't count towards your grade enough. If you're wasting your time - leave. That's what I did during my last cell bio lab. My time is worth more than that. Excel is your very best friend - chemistry, physics, biology - doesn't matter.
Yeah but for some of us, labs count for 3 credits, same as lecture. I'm curious about excel--do you use it for anything other than graphing, best-fit lines, etc? Enlighten.
 

DrYo12

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Keep your lab notebook organised. I know this is easier said than done, but honestly, if you just have random pieces of paper floating around for weeks and then try and make sense of them at the last minute, you will be creating SO much extra work for yourself.

If ANYTHING went wonky during the experiment, write it down. Even if its doesn't seem like that big a deal, write it down anyway and when you do the writeup, it may end up explaining your results once you've had time to really think things over.
 

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If you have labs in groups or with a lab partner, find a good group...Mooch of them...Just kidding! But seriously, a good lab partner or well-organized and efficient groups help. My group was usually the first one out of our biochem lab because we were organized and no one was a slacker.

As everyone else said, read the experiment before you go to class.
 

45408

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Crake said:
Yeah but for some of us, labs count for 3 credits, same as lecture. I'm curious about excel--do you use it for anything other than graphing, best-fit lines, etc? Enlighten.
the lab alone is three credits, or the lab+lecture is three credits? If it's the latter, it's still rarely enough to matter *that* much.

For excel, I also use it for most of my calculations. Because you can keep referencing cells in a linking fashion, you never have to round off numbers. And also, because you can just carry formulas for an entire grid of numbers, the next time you have to do the quadratic formula, just do something like =((A2+SQRT(A2^2 - 4*A1*A3)))/(4*A1) I think. :p


Oh, and bad lab partners suck. My current cell bio lab partner is a moron who contributes approximately zero to the lab. I don't really have an option, because everyone else is sticking with their partner and wouldn't really want this guy. He wanders around, forgets what he's doing, talks to his girlfriend on his cell phone excessively, asks to copy numbers off my calculations, and smooths his long, womanly hair ALL THE TIME. :mad:
 

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priyanka said:
Now that I've been cautioned,
Would my seniors mind giving me some tips of doing well in the lab courses?

*bows with respect*
As a lab assistant, I would like to echo what other people have already said... the most important things are:

1) Read through (and understand) the lab procedure and theory BEFORE lab day
-Make a flow chart of the procedure
-Take note of special circumstances
-Take notes of things you do not understand]
-Take notes while instructor explains lab

2) Make use of instructors office hours to find out how exactly they want the lab report done: very important for first couple lab reports.

3) Don't rush

4) Make friends with a few competent people and keep in check with them so that none of you guys make a mistake. Everything is easier if you work with other people.
 

45408

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am I the only one who never went to lab hours to figure out how to write a lab report? I just hand stuff in.
 

medic170

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AStudent said:
I've gotten a 4.0 in every lab I've ever taken.....ever. And there's two principles that, if followed properly, will ensure that you get a 4.0, or A, or whatever your undergrad institution gives. (scroll down)

CEM 161 Gen I
CEM 162 Gen II
CEM 255 Organic
BS 110 Bio I
BS 111L Bio II
PSY 251 Physics 1
PSY 252 Physics 2
CEM 262 Quan Anal.
CEM 333 Instrumental Methods




1) Prepare for the lab ahead of time, this is by far the most important. It means making sure you have needed supplies the night before, and READ AND UNDERSTAND the lab before you go, that way you can use your time more efficiently and get a better grade. I can't tell you how many times in 161 and 162 I was done before everyone else was still asking "how do I do this part??"

2) Go home after the lab and immediately do your lab report, don't wait until 3-4 days later to write everything, that way you don't forget your data and if you screw up you can always go visit your prof.
Sounds like you went to MSU? Anyway, this is good advice. These labs were a pain, but if you follow this, an A is pretty easy to get in lab.
 
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priyanka

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Thanks guys those are some really good suggestions, as long as I follow it. :)
 

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medic170 said:
Sounds like you went to MSU? Anyway, this is good advice. These labs were a pain, but if you follow this, an A is pretty easy to get in lab.
I got the feeling Astudent was in Rutgers.
 

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Hi-

I've been a lab TA for the past three years, and for the past year, I've been the head TA for my lab (microbiology) and i echo the statements that most of the above posters made, here are my opinions...

Make sure to be prepared when you walk in the door for that day's experiment. This will leave you more informed to ask relevant questions before the exercise starts, and it will limit the irrelevant questions to ask once the exercise has started!

Keep a good notebook!!! This is really important for most lab sections, and a well organized, neat, easy to follow notebook is a trademark of a well organized, neat, responsible student!

If you have quizzes, study! do your OWN work! i have a lot of pre-meds that work together, and it doesn't demonstrate any ability to problem solve or work independently. you should be able to critically think about things, this is what school is for! also, if you end up asking the professor of the class for a letter, many times they will ask the ta's opinion of the student for guidance.

Stop by, but don't stalk your TA during office hours. you don't want them to think you're crazy, or stopping by to just to add points to your score.

pick lab partners that are responsible, mature, and those who will share the work with you. you don't want to be stuck doing all of the work yourself. while some ta's might notice it, some may not!

The most important things to me are the lab reports. For my section, this is where the vast majority of the points come from. Make sure you understand what the experiment was about, how you approached it, and what your end results told you!! if you don't, this would be a good time to stop into office hours!! write a draft early, and take it to your ta for revisions. this will a) make sure it's in the proper format and 2) it'll make sure you understand the content of the report!

hope this helps, good luck!
 

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Here's how to do well while getting out an hour earlier than everyone else. Lab TAs love students who get their work doen quickly and let them get out early. They also hate the kids who make the lab run overtime.

1) Read the lab manual beforehand. No way around this one

2) Pick a lab partner who is not a gunner and is willing to do whatever you say as long as you know what you're doing. Make sure your lab partner is a guy. Girls ask too many questions and make the procedure uneccesarily drawn out Tell your partner you will get him an A if he does everything you say.

3) At the ebginning of each lab, give your partner clear, simple directions for what to do. Make sure that you're ahead of the other groups, as some machines will always be the limiting factor, and you want to get to those first.

4) Use 25% more of everything in any synthesis labs. That will allow you to cut corners with things like filtration and recrystallization and still get a decent yield.

5) Know beforehand what your results should look like, so that you can make them up if your real data isn't looking too hot. Or just feel free to make them up instead of trying to get data at all.
 

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PostalWookie said:
Here's how to do well while getting out an hour earlier than everyone else. Lab TAs love students who get their work doen quickly and let them get out early. They also hate the kids who make the lab run overtime.

1) Read the lab manual beforehand. No way around this one

4) Use 25% more of everything in any synthesis labs. That will allow you to cut corners with things like filtration and recrystallization and still get a decent yield.

5) Know beforehand what your results should look like, so that you can make them up if your real data isn't looking too hot. Or just feel free to make them up instead of trying to get data at all.

All of this advice is right on. I definitely second the idea of using more of everything in synthesis labs. Just record the *supposed* amount, then put in more. Your yield will miraculously turn out higher :). Also. yeah, figure out what results you're supposed to get, and then, if all else fails, just do about 30 minutes of math and work the entire experiment backwards (on paper) to *generate* some experimental data. This has saved me a couple of times.
 

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TheProwler said:
am I the only one who never went to lab hours to figure out how to write a lab report? I just hand stuff in.
You're not alone. I, too, am not insanely neurotic!