Solving chemistry word problems

  • Thread starter john16O
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In summary, when it comes to theory in chemistry I have a good understanding. But when it comes to word problems such as molality, %mass, dimensional analysis, molarity, etc. I tend to get these question wrong. I do not know if it is because I am not a very good problem solver but I cannot seem to get these types of questions right on the test. and then when I go to my professor and she explains to me how to solve one, i say to myself, 'why didn't i think of that?', but i never have an answer to that question. So I was just wondering if someone could offer up a couple steps that they go through when solving these kinds of problems.
  • #1
john16O
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when is comes to theory in chemistry I have a good understanding. But when it comes to word problems such as molality, %mass, dimensional analysis, molarity, etc. i tend to get these question wrong. I do not know if it is because I am not a very good problem solver but I cannot seem to get these types of questions right on the test. and then when I go to my professor and she explains to me how to solve one, i say to myself, 'why didn't i think of that?', but i never have an answer to that question. So i was just wondering if someone could offer up a couple steps that they go through when solving these kinds of problems. or recommendations on how I could improve my skills in this area. Thank you to everyone for your help in advance!
 
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  • #2
Have an estimate of what the answer should be before you start putting numbers into a calculator. If the atomic mass of Sodium is 20 something and chlorine is 30something then 0.1mol of sodium chloride better come out to a few grams, if you get an answer like 30kg you probably have somethign upside down.

Check dimensions. If a number is given in g/mol and you want an answer in moles then the g/mol number must be on the bottom of the equation.

Check units - masses are given in grams but everything else is in meters/kilograms. Especially with gas laws check that you have grams / kg consistently.
 
  • #3
ah i see, but how would I approach a problem like this one:

commercial aqueous nitric acid has a density of 1.42 g/mL and is 16 M. Calculate the molality of this solution.

-I know what molality is: moles of solute/kg of solvent. but how do i manipulate these unites to get them into that format? you know what i mean?
 
  • #4
I would assume they want moles/litre.
You know the formula of Nitric Acid so you can work out the mass, you then know the moles/g, you have the density so can work out the moles/litre.
 
  • #5
ah! i see thank you!
 

Related to Solving chemistry word problems

1. What are the steps to solving a chemistry word problem?

First, read the problem carefully and identify what information is given and what is being asked. Then, write out any relevant equations or formulas. Next, plug in the given values and solve for the unknown variable. Finally, double check your answer and make sure it makes sense in the context of the problem.

2. How do I know which equation to use for a chemistry word problem?

The key is to understand the relationships between different variables in the problem. Look for clues such as units and given information to determine which equation to use. It may also be helpful to review the concepts and formulas related to the topic of the problem.

3. What should I do if I get stuck on a chemistry word problem?

If you are having trouble solving a problem, try breaking it down into smaller parts. You can also use diagrams or models to visualize the problem. If you are still stuck, consult your textbook or ask a classmate or teacher for help.

4. Are there any common mistakes to avoid when solving chemistry word problems?

Yes, some common mistakes include using the wrong units, not paying attention to significant figures, and making calculation errors. It is important to double check your work and make sure your final answer is reasonable in the context of the problem.

5. How can I improve my skills in solving chemistry word problems?

Practice makes perfect! The more problems you solve, the more familiar you will become with the concepts and equations. It can also be helpful to review past problems and understand where you went wrong. Additionally, seeking help from a teacher or tutor can provide valuable tips and strategies for solving word problems.

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