Chemistry I

I am sure you all remember my deep fears going into Calculus I. However, in retrospect, the regents Algebra Course I took in 1976-1977 was an excellent preparation, and it took a lot of work, but I was able to grasp the equations and concepts with that little background.

I am really frightened about taking Chemistry I at the college level. I was an early admissions student to college in 1978, and consequently - I HAVE NEVER HAD HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY. I am scared to death that I really need “pre chem” to take chem.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?? If I am accepted to Post Bacc, I need to be ready for this, and I need to start prepping NOW!!!

I had a good chemistry class in high school. When I took chemistry in college in a good program for getting into medical school from, chemistry started at point zero. The fact I came in with a good background in chemistry did help, and makes it hard for me to judge if it could have been done with no starting knowledge of chemistry, but lacking chemistry knowledge shouldn’t hurt you too much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not optimal. But it’s unlikely to be a situation where your prof will skip topics 1-10 because you’ve seen them in high school.

My suggestion would be to pick up a basic book (not a textbook, just a book) about chemistry and read it cover-to-cover. I’m a fan of Idiot’s Guides. I’ll tell you right now that IGs do make mistakes here and there that a seasoned chemist will pick out, but don’t worry about it. Your goal is to just gain a wide exposure. That way when you hear “chemical species” and “molecule” and “ion” on day one your head won’t be spinning. Also, don’t be afraid to send an e-mail to the prof before the first class to introduce yourself and ask if you should be concerned about your lack of background. This will be helpful later if you need help.

Calculus is a different kind of math. You need a strong grasp of algebra and trigonometry (trig is what we now tend to label “pre-calculus”). The big thing is that you can’t be a person who sees an equation, plugs shit in, and gets an answer. You need a deep enough understanding of algebra that you can look at an equation, understand what ever part of it means, and manipulate it in unique ways. I think that there’s an Aha! moment in calculus that once you start getting it, you’re good. It’s just reaching that point that’s the challenge, and reaching it early. And get extremely comfortable with f(x) notation.

I second getting the Idiot’s Guide books. I bought one to take OChem because the last chem class I had was 8 years before. If I remember right, it was a pretty good refresher. You can actually probably find some class notes from some college chemistry class online that you can review if you don’t want to spend money.

I went to a science-heavy undergrad school, and the Chem I class pretty much assumed you’ve never had chemistry before. I don’t know how your post-bacc program looks at it.

You may want to get a MCAT test prep book to look at (not study per se, just look at) in parallel to your class. It’ll give you an idea of what to commit to more detailed memory if you’re like me and brain dump information you’ll never need again after the test.

thank you for this information
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