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Homework Help: Chemical Thermodynamics Course Help/Advise?

  1. Oct 27, 2013 #1
    Hello all! I am new here, although I have been reading on here for a few years now. I'll get right to the point.

    I don't have a specific homework question exactly, but rather I need help with a course. I am a senior biochemistry major, and I am taking Chemical Thermodynamics, my school's version of Physical Chemistry 2. For some reason, while I can do general chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry stuff without much trouble, I really, REALLY struggle with physics for some reason. This is becoming a big problem in my Chemical Thermodynamics course. I have scored over 80% on all of the homework assignments we are given, and I read out of our book for all of the stuff. I generally spend at least 15 hours a week studying Physical Chemistry stuff, plus an additional 20 before exams. My studying includes reading the text, working through the examples in the book, going over our homework, and the sample exam. However, while it all makes sense in the book and the homework, for some reason I cannot understand the things in the exams. I just have trouble making connections with the basic equations and getting them into the form I need to solve the problems, as most of our exam problems, we are given some basic partial derivatives and have to solve them for a certain value or other, using Maxwell Relations and multivariable calculus functions.

    Now, some of the reasons I think this may be: I signed up for the course as it is a graduation requirement for me, so I can't afford to fail it. I already have spent a small fortune (to me) on my graduate school applications. I didn't think that this course would be all that difficult mathamatically, as the listed course requirements in my universities catalog is Calculus 2 and General Chemistry 2. However, I have come to find out that the professor is teaching as though we have had multivariable calculus. When I brought it up to the chair of the department and him that they shouldn't be teaching it at this level without teaching the math with it, since it isn't a requirement, their response was that it was too bad for me because they can't teach all the math with it.
    That said, the math alone isn't all that horrible, and for the most part even the students who haven't had multivariable calculus have been able to work that part out. However, I am having trouble with the manipulations of these mathamatic functions.

    My second issues is that I don't exactly feel like the problems in my texts and on the homework really give me good examples of the types of problems found on our exams.

    So, my overall question for you guys:
    Is there any other methods of studying, or texts, that you would recommend to me, for getting more practice with these types of problems, and being able to really figure out exactly what I have to do to solve these problems better. My current text is Molecular Thermodynamics by Donald A. McQuarrie. ( ISBN-10: 189138905X).

    Anyways, any advice you can give me would be greatly helpful. I have had my first 2 exams, so there is one more and a final, and as it stands I am just positive that I am failing the course, even with the low averages (And I don't generally fail courses...). I am willing to put the time in to pass the course, and I just cannot make sense of the topic in my head.
  2. jcsd
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