How to study for the Apologia Chemistry tests
In order to make sure you are doing everything needed to get through Chemistry, check that you are doing the following before jumping to conclusions about your ability to do Chemistry:
- Make sure you know how to use your calculator. Seriously. (See our "more" page)
- Make sure you have mastered significant figures. (See our "more" page)
- Read the module (chapter)
- Do the “On your own” exercises in the module, and make sure you get the answers right, or know why you were wrong.
- Do the Review Questions.
- Do the Practice problems.
- Write the Test.
The review questions and practice problems cover everything in the tests, and so it is like doing a practice test. If you can pass the reviews and practice problems, you should be able to pass the tests.
If you’ve developed a mental block about writing tests, as a confidence booster, you could try doing the module tests as open book tests, and write the quarterly tests (every 4 chapters) as closed book tests. In that way your confidence should hopefully improve and you should regain the confidence of doing the module tests as closed book tests.
If you’re still having problems, it may be because you haven’t mastered the art of problem solving. All you need for chemistry is a very basic knowledge of Algebra. The hard part is breaking down the problem into little pieces. That is an art, and can be mastered with practice. Life is about solving problems, and one should learn this technique.
Sometimes a problem is complicated, you’ve been taught some formulae, told some facts, and the question seems reasonable, it may sound familiar, but you just don’t know where to start.
You start by writing everything you think is relevant down on paper. That helps you recognize what you’re dealing with. As you do that, certain things may pop out as you as doable. Do those steps, and as you proceed, you often can see the next step. Persist, and you’ll be in better position to do the next step.
If there are mathematical formulae that have all the elements that you need, but are in the wrong order, you can use your basic algebra to rearrange the formula until they are ready for you to use.
The art of eating elephants – the long calculations
Some of the experiments have long calculations to them. One often hears students lamenting the difficulty of these calculations. However, it’s more a case of psychological warfare than an overtly difficult problem. It’s like the junior reader being shown a 2 inch thick book and passing out at the thought of reading 500 pages. Each page is made of readable words, and it’s merely a case of reading one word after the other. Granted, it takes longer, but it isn’t any more difficult than reading a sentence.
It’s the same with long calculations. If you can add, multiply, divide, subtract, find a square root, it’s sufficient arithmetic to do Chemistry. If you can take an equation like y=x2 and rearrange it to show x=√y, or and equation like y = mx, and rearrange it to read m = y÷x, then you have enough algebra knowledge. Each step in the lengthy calculation is simple enough on its own. You can do it.
The problem is the panic that comes. You will experience that in life, when you take on responsibilities that you have never done before. Raising a baby, learning your first job, moving to a new town, dealing with tragedy, winning the world cup rugby tournament.. if you can learn to keep a steady head in all these situations and not panic, and just stay focused, you are better positioned to solving the problems and becoming an over-comer.
The Bible tells us that Christians are “more than conquerors”. Romans 8:37.
Never let fear rise up. Think to yourself, what can I do? And then do that much. Once you’ve gone one step forward, the next step will be easier to recognize. Don’t think you can do it all at once, that will cause you to fail and then end up feeling like you’re a loser. Don’t do that to yourself. Just do what you can do, and work on improving your confidence. Then have the courage to learn new things once you have mastered the old things.
This is why we recommend that you do the “On your own” problems, the review questions, and the practice problems. It’s about building confidence so that when you do the test, you’ll be able to say “I’ve done this before” and not “Help! I’ve never done this before”. Have the diligence to practice, laziness will lead to failure and a poor self image.
Psalm 37:23 teaches us that God uses our steps to lead us to victory. Once step at a time, and the mountain is conquered.
If you’re still stuck, and none of this helps, because you have tried it all, and it still doesn’t work, you’re welcome to talk to us about it, or perhaps you just need to take a break and give yourself a chance to de-stress and get inspired again.
You have the ability to succeed because God doesn’t make junk.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14