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Study Smart For The Chem Boards: Physical Chemistry Study Tips

Study Smart for the Chem Boards: Physical Chemistry Study Tips

Post Series: Study Tips for the Chemist Licensure Exam

Many students are intimidated by Physical Chemistry because oftentimes, it may seem like the subject is full of abstract equations that need lots of memory space! Physical Chemistry does have its fair share of equations to remember, so we at Sison Review believe that focusing on the understanding and some of the derivations of concepts and equations will give you strong foundations in solving both conceptual and numerical problems on the Board Exam, and improved recall on those equations.

While it is highly unlikely that the Board Exam will require you to show the derivation of a particular equation, your ability to do so (or at least your ability to demonstrate an understanding of the significance of each part of the equation and/or model) will nevertheless give you a better grasp of the equations and their applicability. It is usually easier to recall “why” rather than “what”. Many questions on the board exam are also conceptual, testing you for your understanding of underlying assumptions behind models and equations, as well as qualitative trends. Understanding the equations and models will also give you the skills needed to decide which equations and models are most applicable for a given problem or case.



In terms of coverage, while our discussion of Physical Chemistry covers topics discussed in Physical Chemistry I, II, and III undergraduate classes, many of the topics are also covered in General Chemistry I and II courses, similar to the Inorganic Chemistry coverage. General Chemistry textbooks can therefore serve as reliable references for topics such as Ideal Gases, Thermochemistry, Spontaneity of Reaction, and Chemical Kinetics. The other topics can be reviewed using a Physical Chemistry textbook such as those by Atkins, Ball, or Maron and Lando for a more classic approach.

Also note that there are many overlaps between the topics discussed in Inorganic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry, so it’s likely that topics discussed in Inorganic may appear in the Physical Chemistry Subject exam, and vice-versa. We streamlined the discussion of topics so that there are fewer redundancies in the lectures, so just keep in mind that some of the topics are intertwined, and its best to study these two fields hand-in-hand.

For additional tips and resources for reviewing Physical Chemistry, feel free to consult your lecturer or mentor!

Study smart!

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