How to do well in lab classes

In summary, the expert recommends doing things step by step, reading the experiment beforehand, and trusting your partner.
  • #1
I have my first real lab class this semester (intro to circuits), and I'm kind of nervous. In high school chemistry I always felt like a burden in lab class; I could do fine on the tests, but in lab I always felt behind. By the time I thought to do something my teammates were usually already doing it. Basically, I felt slow. I did better in AP physics, but I still didn't feel competent.
I'm hoping to change that and do well in this lab class, however, I'm not sure what to do. So, other than completing the pre-lab and understanding lectures, how do I prepare/study for a lab class?
Physics news on
  • #2
One thing I learned from my lab classes was that if your partner is doing things fast and acts like he knows what he is doing without even reading the manual and you still have no clue what the setup is , even though you gave a good try at understanding what you have to do. They are doing it WRONG. If it isn't very time limited lab let them do their thing, than try doing it your way.
  • #3
I would read the experiment and write up a stepwise procedure in my own words, before class. After I know how the experiment is going to work, I would look for ways to assemble it in pieces more efficiently.

An example of this in chemistry would be, while I constructed the ring stand, distillation apparatus and heating unit, my partner (who I trust) would be weighing chemicals for the experiment and picking up equipment that wasn't available in the immediate area. Most of the time we were the last to finish and had the best results.

I slow down considerably when I doubt myself and start looking at what the group next to me is doing.
  • #4
something my o-chem professor told me that was useful was write the first 3 things you are going to do when you walk in the door of the lab room, so you don't have the deer in headlights look when you walk in and you start going
  • #5

I understand your concerns and I want to assure you that with the right approach, you can excel in lab classes. Here are some tips for doing well in lab classes:

1. Familiarize yourself with the lab equipment and procedures: Before your first lab class, make sure to read through the lab manual and understand the procedures and equipment you will be using. This will help you feel more confident and prepared in the lab.

2. Ask questions: Don't be afraid to ask questions during the lab class. If you are unsure about something, ask your instructor or lab partners for clarification. This will not only help you understand the material better, but it will also show your engagement and dedication to the class.

3. Plan ahead: Make sure to read through the lab manual and understand the experiment before coming to class. This will give you a head start and allow you to ask any questions you may have beforehand.

4. Take detailed notes: During the lab, make sure to take detailed notes of your observations, procedures, and any unexpected results. This will help you when writing your lab reports and studying for exams.

5. Work efficiently: In a lab setting, time management is crucial. Make sure to work efficiently and use your time wisely. Don't be afraid to delegate tasks among your lab partners to ensure everything gets done in a timely manner.

6. Practice outside of class: To improve your practical skills, consider practicing outside of class. You can find online simulations or videos that can help you understand the concepts and techniques used in the lab.

7. Reflect on your mistakes: If you make a mistake during a lab, don't get discouraged. Instead, take the time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve for next time. This will help you learn from your mistakes and become a better lab student.

Remember, lab classes are meant to be a hands-on learning experience. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get everything right the first time. With practice and dedication, you will improve and do well in your lab class. Good luck!

1. How can I prepare for a lab class?

To prepare for a lab class, read through the lab manual beforehand to understand the experiment and any safety precautions. Make sure you have all necessary materials and tools ready. It can also be helpful to review any relevant lecture material or ask the instructor for clarification on any concepts.

2. How should I approach the lab experiment?

Before beginning the experiment, make sure you understand the procedure and follow it carefully. Take accurate measurements and record all data neatly and clearly. If you encounter any difficulties or unexpected results, don't hesitate to ask the instructor for assistance or clarification.

3. How can I stay safe in the lab?

Safety is a top priority in the lab. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as goggles and gloves. Follow all safety guidelines and procedures, and notify the instructor immediately of any spills or accidents. It is also important to be mindful of your surroundings and be cautious when handling chemicals or equipment.

4. How can I maximize my learning in the lab?

To get the most out of your lab class, actively engage in the experiment and ask questions if you don't understand something. Take detailed notes and ask the instructor for feedback on your procedure or data analysis. Collaborate with your lab partners and participate in group discussions. Additionally, reviewing your notes and the lab manual after class can help reinforce the concepts learned.

5. How can I improve my lab reports?

A well-written lab report is crucial for success in lab classes. Before submitting, proofread for any spelling or grammatical errors. Use clear and concise language, and include all necessary information, such as the purpose of the experiment, materials used, procedure, data, and results. Make sure to also include any relevant graphs or tables and provide thorough analysis and conclusions.

Suggested for: How to do well in lab classes