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Curious Student

  1. Dec 2, 2008 #1
    Hey, I'm going to college next year and I am majoring in chemistry. Just wondering, what chemistry class was the most difficult to understand?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2008 #2
    It's different for different people.

    Organic chem is hell, while Physical Chemistry is pretty bad too.

    There are bumperstickers going around that say "honk if you passed p chem".
  4. Dec 3, 2008 #3
    Yea my chem teacher told me he never got above a 60 on a test in p chem and he still has no idea what its about. I'm taking organic now and its pretty easy for me.
  5. Dec 3, 2008 #4
    Upper level inorganic is terrible (junior year).
  6. Dec 3, 2008 #5


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    It depends on what you find difficult. If you aren't very good with math, p-chem will be difficult. If you aren't good at memorization, you might find biochem or organic chem to be difficult. Personally, I found p-chem to be fun. Although it can be difficult to follow the concepts sometimes, it's mind-blowingly awesome to learn about the microscopic, quantum world and actually derive some of the fundamentally important equations in chemistry (like the ideal gas law) starting from microscopic systems.
  7. Dec 4, 2008 #6
    Some of us got into chemistry because we found the whole thing easy. Hopefully the same will be true for you.

    General Chem was probably the hardest one to take, because it wasn't interesting enough -- it was the fundamentals. Face it, solubility products are boring. But later on, in Physical Chemistry, you discover the real story behind them.

    Organic is a great course if you like solving puzzles. Yes, there is memorization, but the rules generally make sense: just remember 'plus attracts minus' and it explains a decent number of reaction mechanisms ;-)

    Analytical is an excellent course for learning proper lab technique. You might, for instance, think you want to be a synthetic chemist one day. Well, no one will believe you've made a new, pure compound unless it can be proven with analytical methods.

    P-chem gets a bad reputation, but I blame the 300+ student calc classes for that. It's turned it from an actual math course into a weed-out procedure. My advice: learn all the math beforehand, on your own, and practice it. Then when you walk into p-chem and are hit with differential equations, you'll be like "Oh, these again?" and not like the panic-stricken masses who 'learned' by cramming for the test last year.

    And inorganic? It was my favorite. The Wild West of chemistry. No tame lewis structure molecules here. Organometallic compounds like ferrocene. Agostic bonds from a metal to a C-H bond. Every metal its own adventure ;-)

    In short, good luck with it, and don't worry about what's 'hard'. Prepare ahead and master it.
  8. Dec 4, 2008 #7
    No wonder it was my favorite chem class! :biggrin: (Making a sparkly purple chromium compound in a bomb reactor helped too!... I kept that stuff in a vial for years :yuck: ... and it's possible I still have it!)
  9. Dec 4, 2008 #8
    Thanks for the great advice!!!
    I like organic the best so far (only had organic and chem 1)
  10. Dec 4, 2008 #9


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    By far the most difficult will be the one where you study Quantum Mechanics. AAAAAGGGHHHHHHH!

    (runs screaming into traffic.......)
  11. Dec 5, 2008 #10
    P-chem is eh. Interesting, but many many many chemists have great careers and hardly ever use any pchem they learned once they leave the classroom. Pchem is just good background knowledge many times.

    Analytical is probably the most hated chemistry course by many students, but it is probably THE most important class. Almost all jobs in industry require someone to know HPLC, NMR, other chromatography techniques, and certain types of mass spectrometry at the very minimum. The level of sophistication and power of today's and tomorrow's analytical instruments is absolutely mind blowing.

    Organic. The most interesting class IMO. Lots of memorization yes, but a lot of problem solving. It is basically just puzzle solving. All life depends on organic chemistry. If you get around to it and have the opportunity, take an advanced organic course. 80% of intro organic courses is simply obsolete material. Absolutely no one does a lot of the reactions that you will see in your textbook. In an advanced organic course, you actually get to learn about reactions that people perform in the real world.
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