How to Take Perfect Notes in Chemistry Class
Chemistry is the study of matter and the way matter interacts, fuses, and changes. In a Chemistry class, you will be introduced to the periodic table of elements and will need to understand chemical processes, solve Chemistry formulas, and perform lab experiments.
As a subject that’s the union of math and science, it can be understandably difficult to write useful and cohesive Chemistry notes. But not to worry! We’ve put together this list of comprehensive tips to help you create the perfect Chemistry notes.
Become Familiar with the Periodic Table of Elements
Since you will be referencing the periodic table frequently, making note of key elements is essential. It isn’t feasible to remember everything about the table at once, so what you write down should be determined by the elements you use the most. That is to say, if you reference the elements hydrogen and helium often in class, you should keep note of them instead of those your professor rarely mentions.
Try making a short list chronicling your most frequently used elements and even make subcategories that organize them by atomic number, symbol, or type (e.g. metal vs. nonmetal). The ability to quickly identify an element will help you solve formulas more quickly as you won’t have to manually reference the table every time.
You may also need to be able to match certain element names with their corresponding symbols for your exams, so writing them in your notes will help you to start memorizing them.
Thoroughly Explain Key Concepts
Understanding things like the states of matter, atomic theory, and how elements function is integral towards being successful in Chemistry. Therefore when you write your notes, you should focus on thoroughly explaining these concepts rather than just writing down definitions.
For instance, mercury is liquid at room temperature; however, it is quick to vaporize and can exist as a gas for weeks at a time. As you can see from this example, you need to know more than just an element’s name. You also need to gain an understanding of how it exists and interacts in different scenarios. Creating detailed notes such as this can help make sure you have a better and more well-rounded understanding of key concepts.
Expand on Chemistry Formulas
One of the most challenging aspects of Chemistry is that it requires you to have a good understanding of both science and mathematics. You will often have to use basic math and Algebra for Chemistry formulas, so you may need to brush up on these subjects. Don’t be afraid to add math formulas that you struggle to remember directly into your Chemistry notes for easier reference.
Additionally, try making a list of all the important formulas that you need to remember and write examples of how they are used. A formula alone isn’t very helpful unless you understand how it’s meant to be used. So be sure to write down an example or two for each formula you make note of. This will make it easier to know where to focus your studying efforts.
Summarize Findings from Lab Experiments
The lab portion of Chemistry class is very important because it shows you how the concepts you have learned work in action. And while the process of using the lab equipment and recording data is an integral part of the experience, your biggest take-away from the lab should be more than just a sheet full of numbers and data.
Upon leaving a lab, you should have a clear understanding of the overarching purpose of your experiment. So be sure to set aside some time directly after labs to write a brief summary of what was covered, including the details of what were you testing, what the result of your lab was, and why that result occurred. This way, the information will stick in your mind and you’ll have more to reference later on than just recorded data.
Seek Help When Needed
As well-written as your notes may be, sometimes they just aren’t enough. If you are having trouble understanding anything in your Chemistry class, you should seek help.
Start by consulting your professor or class TA. You can also try reaching out to your classmates to see if someone can explain whichever concept you’re stuck on. Regardless of where you seek help, be sure to add any new information you learn to your notes to make them even more comprehensive!
Writing notes for Chemistry may seem daunting at first, but having a good note-taking strategy will make the whole process much easier. If you can familiarize yourself with the periodic table, remember key terms and concepts, know your Chemistry formulas, record lab experiments, and seek help on areas you don’t fully understand, you will have no problem writing the perfect Chemistry notes.