Pre Physics/Ochem Jitters


I was just accepted to our local 4 yr university so I can take Physics and Ochem as recommended by the pre med advisor. I am freaking out about phsics b/c I have not been in a physics class since HS. I bought a review book today (yes I know it’s 4th of July!!!) and started going through some of the math review and the vectors are blowing my mind!!! Anybody out there have any study tips to gear myself up for physics. I haven’t even opened the ochem book yet… but at least I’ve taken college level chem… almost 10 years ago, so I’m a bit nervous about this class as well. Please share experience,ideas,suggesti ons etc. Thanks!

Well, take your time going through the math review and get help from friends or the tutoring center on campus if you need to. If you can get the math down again before the course, you’ll probably do fine.

For o-chem, you need to review acid-base chemistry (particularly Lewis acids vs. Bronsted-Lowry), and the basic concepts (but not so much the calculations) of equilibrium. Be aware of the general trends of electronegativity. Practice drawing Lewis dot structures, as you will use them constantly in o-chem to draw out mechanisms. You need to be able to do that in your sleep.

That should give you enough to work on until classes start.

Once they do start, just keep up, ask for help early and often, and do the homework problems more than once. I like the fact that you’re looking to channel your nervous energy into preparing ahead of time. That bodes well for your future success. I’m not always good at that.

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I sympathize! I, too, am looking at a year of Physics and O Chem with a bit of trepidation. Someone recently posted the following suggestions for Physics help: 1) The Cartoon Guide to Physics and 2) Lectures by Prof Lewin through MITs Open Courseware. They are my plan for easing my brain into a physics mode in August.

Okay guys, tell me if I’m playing this right. I took both college algebra and trig as an undergrad, and got A grades in both. But right now I don’t remember much.

Right now I’m auditing college algegra and I’m breezing through it–thank heavens. I’m thinking this:

This academic year:

Chemistry and Biology

Next summer:

audit trig

Next academic year:

Organic chemistry and physics.

How’s that for a plan…then take the MCAT and apply? Do these seem in proper order, or am I doing anything backwards or incorrectly.


I’ve taught ochem a few semesters, and I’ve found that the most sucessful students do these things:

  1. read the chapter BEFORE class. That way you aren’t clueless to what the prof is talking about- you will be able to follow and learn the nuances.

  2. Also, as lame as this is, taking notes with MULTIPLE colors of pens helps-- Your prof will probably (he should!) distingush between various carbons/hydrogens, you want your notes to reflect this.

  3. Get a molecular model and learn how to use it (Unless you are spatially gifted and can see the three dims in your head). If your on a bugdet, all you really need is a few toothpicks and some colored styrofoam balls, don’t spend the 40$.

  4. If your prof has been around for awhile, FIND OLD TESTS and work ALL the problems. Make friends with the undergrads in the soroities and frats if you can’t easily get them-- they have them, trust me. (Unless your school has a policy against this?? Mine didn’t.) (I refused to do this, I was morally against it, and I lost out-- everyone will do it and you will put yourself at a HUGE disadvantage if you don’t)

    Finally, if you have extra time and are motivated now, put all the funtional groups on flash cards and learn them now: ethers, amines, amides, acid derivatives, alchols etc…

    I got a C in physics, so you don’t want to do what I did:)

southpaw, your plan looks fine. And L.C.'s advice for o-chem is terrific.

Thanks for the great advice. I’ve beeng going through review books and making flash cards. I feel like I’m learning a new language! I’m hoping if I can at least get the language down before the classes start, then I should be somewhat ok. I will heed your advice and work my tail off!

My biggest physics advice would be to use the help sessions as much as possible, as well as any O Chem help sessions. Usually professors know these are tough topics for students and have TA sessions or Help Lab hours. I strongly recommend anything like that. It saved me!!! Especially the Physics Help Lab hours.

Good luck!

I agree with the flash cards - I also would write them over and over again too. You have to understand the concepts, don’t just memorize. You will hit a point where it will all make sense.

The other thing I did (since I was only taking a few classes at a time) was rewrite the notes when I got home…a good refresher and you can use the different color pencils/pens/highlighters /whatever. Sometimes if you wait you will forget something else that was said in class that may have been important.

Just my $.02

Rachel Yealy, DO