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Teaching yourself chemistry

  1. Oct 27, 2014 #1
    After 20 years of being a locksmith, I have decided that I want to get a college degree and I'll be starting next year! As part of my degree, I will be doing two chemistry courses which will cover:

    - Intermolecular forces, chemical equilibrium, energy considerations and chemical reactivity applied to aspects of chemistry and biochemistry
    - Structure of the atom and molecular bonding
    - Chemistry of the metals and non-metals
    - Bonding in transition (d-block elements, coordination complexes, bioinorganic systems)
    - Aspects of acid/base equilibria, kinetics and electrochemical processes
    - Importance of molecular shape and how chemists determine the structure of compounds using spectroscopic techniques including ultraviolet, infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
    - Chemical synthesis with reference to addition and subtraction reactions
    - Strategies for synthesis and properties of biologically significant molecules

    The problem? It has been two decades since I've touched any textbook, let alone a chemistry textbook, yet I need to learn chemistry from 'what is chemistry?' to first year college chemistry that is rigorous and has a lot of math in it.

    If you were in my situation, what would your strategy be? Should I be able to start from a university chemistry textbook?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2014 #2


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    Gold Member

    Do you know enough math to at least do some basic mathematics, such as some simple algebra? After 20 years, there is a good chance you don't have that under your belt. I would pick up a math book for the freshman high school level and do some reading to get acquainted with doing some algebraic manipulations, and once you feel comfortable with that, start off with a first year high school chemistry book.

    Something like this would be suitable basic chemistry, which would be on the level of high school chemistry

    And if you need to brush up on algebra I, take a look at this

    These are both quite cheap, just a few dollars. No need to spend a lot of money. Also, look at khanacademy.org to watch videos that give good explanations for math and science, from basic arithmetic all the way beyond calculus. This should keep you busy for a while and get you ready for school.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Nov 3, 2014 #3
    Cheers @Maylis!
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