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High school student struggling with Honors Chemistry

  1. May 23, 2016 #1
    Hopefully this is the pot of gold I have been searching for on getting help. I am a Sophomore. Over the course of this entire school year I have really struggled through my Honors Chemistry course. I really don't know what it is, I will say the lectures bore me to death, but I power through them and I usually feel like I know what's going on. This doesn't appear to be the case come test time, I always make a low B or a high C on everything. The ONLY time I didn't make a B/C on a test was the Stoichometry unit (93%). With that unit I felt as if I could see the conceptual aspects and the math was very easy. I am a pretty decent math student, but at times this has been useless.

    Like anyone, I get a bit anxious while testing, but I honestly don't think it hinders me that much. I don't have this issue in other classes. I'm going to guess its the concepts that are getting me because I understand the calculations. I know I have a strong memory, but all these scenarios drive me nuts. Nothing in there ever seems to flow in a way that makes sense. I also have a tough time seeing these concepts happening in my head, so during lectures I solely rely on making sense of verbal statements.

    I don't have strong study habits, but when it comes to this class I do try. I haven't taken Physics yet, but in Biology I was awesome. If I made a mistake in there it was usually due to me not taking my time. This is the case for me this year in Anatomy and Physiology as well. I have gained a bit of a reputation because of this. In here everything makes so much sense and all the concepts just seem to flow together.

    Sadly, I know my journey with Chemistry is far from over. I want to go into Molecular Biology, this has been my dream since 7th grade. I want to become good at this now, but I have no friends I could study with (I'm kind of a loner), and the teacher cannot commit to helping me after school.
     
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  3. May 23, 2016 #2

    symbolipoint

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    You are doing fine then, and this could continue as long as you keep trying very hard. You are just inexperienced at what you are learning. If you had already learned the material, like previously studied it already, you might earn higher grades.

    If that is the case, then you need to study with much more effort, and you have no excuse for doing just "fine". You should be doing better.
     
  4. May 23, 2016 #3
    No one in my year has studied Chemistry in the past. This is all of our first times seeing any of this and my Chemistry teacher hates this, but she knows it will take a long time to change that. I've ran into plenty of Biology I haven't seen before though and had no issues.

    My issue is that I have no idea how. I've never studied for longer than 20 minutes in my life. This amount of time always seems to be enough to earn me A's in Honors Spanish, A&P, Biology, etc. In Honors English it earns me an average-above average grade, it is very rare to earn an A on anything in there, and in History I just never felt the need. All my study tactics have been based around cramming things into my memory, which seems to actually work pretty well in most cases. Quizlet is my best friend, but for this I see it won't be. Vocab terms for Chem usually come pretty quickly to me. How can you study conceptual things? Please don't tell me any memory based studying, I need something more based on broadening how much I understand.

    Trust me, I wouldn't be here if I was okay with a B- on our tests. My teacher wishes I would stop beating myself up, but I still feel like I'm a failure.
     
  5. May 23, 2016 #4

    DrSteve

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    Is there a specific question you wanted to ask? There's no shame in not being strong in all of your subjects, but if you do want to pursue molecular biology, knowing well that molecular biology requires a lot of chemistry, you owe it to yourself to become proficient at it, whether that requires more time devoted to studying or tutoring.
     
  6. May 23, 2016 #5
    Nothing specific comes to mind, but I would say I am struggling in there more than usual at the moment. I could use help, but I feel as if this platform of communication would just be a hassle. I would be much better off in tracking down a person. We study Inorganic Chemistry and I know that what I want to study requires more Organic Chemistry. You might not know the answer to this question, but would I ever even see Inorganic again after I take Gen Chem 1/2 in college? I have no plans on touching AP Chemistry as I did way worse last semester (B-, but tests were more C-/C). The reason why this bothers me so much is because I am sitting at an 89 average.
     
  7. May 23, 2016 #6

    DrSteve

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    Indeed, this physics forum would be a poor choice for posing chemistry questions. That's why you should consider a personal tutor if things get off to a bad start in your junior year. Control that which you can control; let go of that which you can't.
     
  8. May 24, 2016 #7

    symbolipoint

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    The subject of Chemistry is not the subject of Biology and it is not the subject of Honors Spanish, nor Honors English nor History. You are struggling (to some extent) at a subject like as I said, you are inexperienced. You are also NOT studying with great enough effort to do as well as you could in your Chemistry course.

    I have not recently seen a chapter from a high school Chem book, but, a chapter might be between 20 and 30 pages. You should find that you spend maybe 8 to 12 hours per week studying for Chemistry; and that maybe 10 pages of book material may require about 6 to 8 hours. You will need to read many passages between about 4 and 8 times, thinking carefully as you read.

    Yes, a tutor, or a small group of other Chemistry students at your school could gather and discuss difficult topics and share example exercises.

    Do not let the labels fool you. Organic Chemistry AND Inorganic Chemistry are important if you want to learn and understand Molecular Biology or Biochemistry. Consider some compounds such as Chlorophyl or Hemoglobin. Both are organometalic, so both rely on Inorganic Chemistry concepts. Obviously these are important in Biology and Biochemistry. Would you one day perform any organic synthesis? You would certainly use inorganic materials.
     
  9. May 24, 2016 #8

    DrClaude

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    There are some very knowledgeable people lurking in the chemistry forum on PF :smile:
     
  10. May 24, 2016 #9
    Well if you've never studied for longer than 20 minutes in your life then this is why you are getting B/Cs, you say youre beating yourself up but its your own fault that youre not getting As as you're not studying for very long (and clearly need to study for longer when it comes to chemistry). You cant be effortlessly good at everything, sometimes you just have to sit down and practice by reading and understanding key concepts then checking your understanding by doing questions that test that section of knowledge. If you get the questions wrong then you see where and why you went wrong.

    If you want to do well later in your education you will need to develop some study habitats as very few people can do little/no work and do amazing.
     
  11. May 24, 2016 #10

    Dr Transport

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    Then taking honors chemistry probably wasn't the best idea.....

    There are multiple ways to get better study habits, it takes effort and 20 minutes at a time isn't it. I suspect that part of the issue is that you're a teenager who I suspect has trouble focusing because of outside influences (cell phone, tablet computers, internet etc.... i.e. instant gratification). Learn to focus now and when you get to college you'll be way better off.
     
  12. May 24, 2016 #11

    ZapperZ

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but during my time, taking "Honors" in any subject means (i) one is already good at it and (ii) that the course is more rigorous and more demanding than the regular class.

    Students who get B's and C's are NOT the ones to get offered to do honors classes, are they? Or have the requirements changed?

    From what I have read, the OP is not suitable to take Honors Chemistry classes.

    Zz.
     
  13. May 24, 2016 #12

    StatGuy2000

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    I don't know how things work in the US, but back in my days in public high schools in Ontario, Canada (this would be the late 80's and early 90's), classes were split in the following way:

    1. "Advanced" courses: These courses were essentially courses taught with a certain degree of rigor, and would correspond to the A levels or O levels in the UK. These are the courses that were required to essentially advance to university education. The majority of students in my high school took the Advanced courses.

    2. "Enriched" courses: These courses (offered in certain select schools), were similar to the "Advanced" courses but were more rigorous and tended to cover material at a faster pace (essentially equivalent to AP classes in the US). There was also a separate category of "Gifted" courses for especially advanced or gifted students who have passed certain examinations, again offered in only select public schools.

    3. "General" courses: These courses were less rigorous than the "Advanced" courses. Students who take the "General" courses are unable to advance to the university education upon graduation (although they may be able to pursue certain programs in community college).

    4. "Basic" courses: These courses (offered in only certain areas) were similar to "General" courses but were even less rigorous (or more elementary).

    Students who were taking "General" or "Basic" courses generally had a reputation of being less academically inclined compared to other students. So by default the "Advanced" courses were what students took (or "Enriched/Gifted" courses where it was offered).

    I'm curious if the Honors classes offered for the OP is similar to class 1 or 2.

    PS: There were also a select number of private schools and public schools that offered the IB program, but such programs weren't available to me where I lived.
     
  14. May 24, 2016 #13

    symbolipoint

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    What is this "honors" stuff? Is this the same as "college preparatory"? What happened to "AP" for advanced placement? Do these schools have more than one version of some courses, so that there is a regular "Chemistry" course and also the same school having an Honors Chemistry course? Would only one of them be a college preparation course?
     
  15. May 25, 2016 #14

    DrSteve

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    From the College Board https://professionals.collegeboard.org/guidance/prepare/honors-ap
    Honors courses
    Honors classes often offer the same curriculum as regular classes but are tailored for high-achieving students — covering additional topics or some topics in greater depth.
    AP courses
    • Cover the breadth of information, skills and assignments found in corresponding college courses
    • Align with the standards and expectations of leading liberal arts and research institutions
    • Provide motivated and academically prepared students with the opportunity to study and learn at the college level
    A sufficiently big high school would presumably have separate chemistry, honors chemistry and AP chemistry courses. Someone interested in the humanities might take the traditional chemistry course; another student interested in the sciences would take the AP version of the course. Smallish high schools may not have the infrastructure to support the AP version of the course, and it would be the job of the admissions officers to be aware of that.
     
  16. May 25, 2016 #15

    symbolipoint

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    DrSteve, good explanation.
    The Honors type courses would correspond to College Preparatory courses.

    Some higher level education officials discussed course level types by maybe confusing "advanced" with "advanced placement" the way you described it. Something like "Intermediate Algebra" were to be understood as both advanced and as "advanced placement".
     
  17. May 25, 2016 #16
    In Math and English at my school you are correct, but to get into Honors Chemistry you had to earn an A in 9th grade Biology. At my school you almost always have to take the Honors course to qualify for the AP course.The only exclusion to this rule at my school is History, we only have general and AP, so there are no pre-reqs for AP.

    This works the same for Honors Physics as it does for Honors Chem, my teacher wanted me to do Honors Physics so I have it down in my schedule for next year. My counselor also highly recommended it since I intend on being a Biology major. Any tips for that? An upperclassman told me that it was a lot easier to grasp the concepts since it applies to the real world more directly than Chem.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  18. May 25, 2016 #17
    Please don't interpret this the wrong way. My soul intent for this post is to just better understand you. Is this the case in high school and college? My teacher will say that we really shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes a day on her class (we are on block schedule like a college so we only meet 3 times a week). We will usually have a week to do an 8 page study guide and between meets we will get probably about 3 pages of work from a packet with an occasional online assignment or lab report. Homework level is what gets a lot of people with this class and in all honesty I am absolutely fine with the work load. I'm not saying my teacher is wrong, but why would someone say this if 8-12 hours provides people with a true understanding?

    If anyone wants to know what we cover we are just a literal outline of AP Chemistry.
     
  19. May 25, 2016 #18

    micromass

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    Spending 12 hours a week on chemistry alone is definitely overkill. Spending 15 minutes a day is too little however.

    As you will see in college too, many professors and study guides tell you how much you can expect to study. It is very important not to listen to them too literally. You need to find your own path to success. For some people, 15 minutes a day WILL be enough (not for many though). Some people will need to do a lot more than that. You need to find out what kind of studying habit fits YOU well. Don't listen too much to teachers and fellow students. If your studying doesn't work out now, then change it.

    And don't only increase study time. Also study smarter. Maybe you have not been studying very efficiently? Maybe there are a lot better ways to study the material. Studying 12 hours a week is fine, but if you study inefficiently, then even that won't guarantee you anything.
     
  20. May 25, 2016 #19
    If you're curious we outline every topic that they do in AP, but we don't go as in depth as AP. General Chemistry at my school probably doesn't even cover a third of what we do.
     
  21. May 25, 2016 #20

    symbolipoint

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    The reading-material in my own education relied on instructional textbooks. We did not have too many study packets.
     
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