Exam #4 answers

The answers to the final exam have been posted on the Exams page.

I haven’t finished reading the exams yet (I’ve read page one of about
40 exams so far), but an interesting thought occurred to me this past
week that I wanted to share with you.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that a number of students contacted me during the past two weeks out of concern over their standing in the class and their prospects for the final. This seems quite understandable. However, what struck me as interesting was the large number of students who told me, “I have changed the way that I study. I wish I had done this earlier in the semester” (or words to that effect).

Did you change the way that you studied for this course during this past semester? Do you wish you had?

I’m sure all of you began the semester having heard many scary stories of how hard o-chem would be. This probably created a certain degree of anxiety, but I wonder if it caused you to re-think how you studied? Would it have been more helpful to you in September if upperclass students had told you, “it’s really hard and I eventually found that I had to change the way I studied chemistry“?

Please reflect on this. In another year students will be coming to you to learn about Chem 201/202. What will you tell them? What is the most important thing you can tell a future o-chem student? That “it will be really really hard”? Or, “at some point, you will probably discover that you have to change the way you study”?

Have a good break.

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2 Responses to Exam #4 answers

  1. Matt says:

    One of the things that Pat started telling us in conference a couple of months into the semester was “O-chem is a memorization class, not a concept class. You need to remember your mechanisms, you can’t just feel this stuff out because you learned some principles.” (I’m paraphrasing some, can’t remember the quote exactly).
    As self-evident a statement as you’d think that is it really changed the way I prioritized my studies in the class after being told it point-blank. I don’t remember if that’s one of the statements you made the first day of class but I think it’s worth emphasizing from the start.

  2. Alan Shusterman says:

    @Matt, Thanks for this comment. I talk about the role of memorization in the study tips that I post at the beginning of the semester (http://blogs.reed.edu/chem201202/2009/08/study-tips-09.html) and I try to assign memorization tasks, e.g., pKa values, in the early chapters to get students oriented to this. However, I think the message bears repeating throughout the semester because you never know when a student is going to take the message to heart.

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