- 1.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Choose the Right References
- 2.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Plan your Study
- 3.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Inorganic Chemistry Study Tips
- 4.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Analytical Chemistry Study Tips
- 5.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Physical Chemistry Study Tips
- 6.Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Organic Chemistry Study Tips
Analytical Chemistry is often considered to be the most difficult subject in the Chemistry Board Exam because of two main reasons – length and difficulty of problems which usually involve calculations. The “length” problem is rooted on the limited amount of exam time given which obviously cannot be adjusted. Thus, the only option to address this challenge is to increase your speed, which can be done through doing a lot of practice problems, development of calculation techniques, and possibly memorization of step-by-step methods.
However, take note that speed does not matter that much if you are headed in the wrong direction or if you don’t know which direction to go! The “difficulty” challenge, on the other hand, arises from this problem in direction, and it is rooted on the understanding of the topics involved in the problem. You can improve your understanding by digging down into the basic concepts and principles behind the problems. Hence, to efficiently solve difficult problems, you need the synergy of speed and understanding—skills that should be developed alongside one another.
Another challenge, which you might have heard from those who took the boards, is the Instrumental Analysis field. Even with its notorious reputation, some students allot only a small fraction of time to Instrumental Analysis. However, we suggest that you devote at least half of your allotted schedule for Analytical Chemistry to Instrumental Analysis. This is a major topic in the board exam with a long list of sub-topics on different instrumental techniques.
Each instrumental method usually comes with its own chapter in textbooks with too many overwhelming but usually unimportant details. A good learning strategy for this is to study in an iterative manner. First, start your review with the very basic principles and core concepts of each instrumental method without focusing on details. For this part, it is ideal to use references other than textbooks (e.g. outlines, infographics, videos, etc.). After mastering the basics in each method, you may do another 2-4 rounds of studying incorporating more advanced details from books or class materials in each round.
The good news in instrumental methods is that the data treatment methods are generic and are applicable to most methods. Lastly, we recommend that you master the following topics from Inorganic Chemistry as these will be used heavily in Analytical Chemistry: Stoichiometry, Concentration, Electrochemistry, and Ionic Equilibrium.
For additional tips and resources for reviewing Analytical Chemistry, feel free to consult your lecturer or mentor!