Hey everyone! So this post came specially requested by students in junior year currently going through their first AP science grind: AP Chemistry. AP Chemistry - while being regarded as one of the most difficult AP science classes - is actually the easiest to study for (trust me, this is coming from a current AP Physics C student). This is because AP Chemistry is all about plugging and chugging numbers into a chosen formula. Of course, you will have to connect concepts and piece together information to choose the right formula, but once you do, it's smooth sailing from there! So down below, here are my biggest tips in retrospect of the class for people who are struggling conceptually:
#1: Make a study sheet for EVERYTHING
My favorite part about AP Chemistry was how easy it was to study for the class. Granted the material was complex and the questions confusing, but it was always easy to do a reflection on the conceptual material learned. So, my biggest advice is that when studying for a test, please please do not do the practice test first. Start with doing a mega review of slideshows, notes, formulas, and types of questions. Only then should you begin practice problems and practice tests. Once you finish the test, review the answers and start the questions you got wrong from scratch.
#2: Steps are important
My favorite method of review was pinpointing questions that I found challenging and writing down the steps to approaching the problem. Here is how you do it: either derive the correct answer on your own or take some assistance from the answer keys. Then, notice how the question was approached: what part they attack first? How did they structure their answers? What formulas should be used? Finally, write a step-by-step BROAD solution to the problem. Do not answer it specifically, but think about how one would solve any question like this with varying numbers. Here is an example down below:
Notice how I never talk about a SPECIFIC problem, but rather, a big-picture view of solving problems?
#3: Make sure you practice MCQs
A lot of people only seem to want to practice FRQs since they find it to be more daunting. However, I would argue that it is much more important to look into the MCQs
since AP Classroom MCQs can be quite challenging. Below are the best resources that I used for AP Chemistry MCQ practice online. Make sure to see what questions are being asked, since many are often reused with new numbers. This is what makes it easy to review for AP Chemistry since it is such an algebra-heavy class. There is no calculus involved and no specific word problems that are unpredictable. Here are the best resources in my opinion:
#4: Make sure you are asking your teachers how they approach problems
I cannot emphasize enough how much your teachers can support you through difficult AP science courses. They have been solving these problems over and over again for YEARS. They can do the problems off the top of their minds and teach them very well, especially for AP Chemistry. It is very important that you go to office hours, ask them how they approach questions, and watch how they solve them as well. It is very important that you ask for help in these courses. Even if you have been generally self-sufficient for years, now is the time to ask for help.
#5: Do questions over and over again
Before the midterm exam, all I did was rewrite the questions over and over again. I solved the same questions until it became like rote memory. No matter what time it was or how busy I was, I got to the point that I could easily solve each word problem repeatedly without hesitation. To get to this point, go through notes, MCQs, and online practice and find word problems and answer keys. From there, just keep on solving until it conceptually becomes simple in your mind. That is how you know that you have mastered questions!
Keep the pedal to the medal and be open to learning even when the material is difficult. Remember, chemistry is literally playing out around you. Get excited about learning these processes and do not get discouraged from a few bad grades. You have a whole year to acclimate and grow. DM me @eviespaceblog for what AP I should post about next!