Just a note of encouragement to you, chem student. You probably often feel that when your teacher goes through the problems in class, it all seems to make sense, but then when you try and figure out the steps on your own, it is quite the challenge. You are not alone! This is a common frustration. Think of these chemistry problems as a jigsaw puzzle. You almost have to be a little detective to figure out how to put the pieces together! Be assured: your teacher spent time before class figuring out how to put all the pieces together, -- so that -- in class s/he can quickly write down all the steps, " in order". Wha-laa! What unfolds before you is a problem "easily solved"! You say - why can't I ever do that???!!!!!! What the teacher doesn't show you is all the time it took looking at "all the puzzle pieces on the board", figuring out which one to pick up next. He also doesn't show you, when he picks up a piece, and tries to lock it in in a certain place, sometimes it doesn't fit and he has to put it down and find another piece to pick up. This is the way everyone does a puzzle. This is the way everyone does chem problems too.

Putting together the puzzle of a chemistry problem is only slightly different that an actual jigsaw puzzle, After you've done several problems you begin to see the clues, -- which for us are not designs and colors like on a jigsaw puzzle, but definitions and formulas that somewhere will have overlap. Start by looking at what they are asking for, and answering - what are the units of the answer I am supposed to get? Looking at the units of all the numbers given in the problem is a good clue to see the overlap and the way the data interlocks. See if you can make a path from the given info to the answer, unit-wise -- remembering sometimes it is easier to work backwards! Then you can start to see how it will all fit together. It does gets easier the more you do, but rest assured - everyone, - the A+ students, the teachers, the tutors and the textbook makers goes through the same process. Building this kind of problem solving ability will help you not only in this science class, but most math, science and business classes as well. Good luck! - Diane

Putting together the puzzle of a chemistry problem is only slightly different that an actual jigsaw puzzle, After you've done several problems you begin to see the clues, -- which for us are not designs and colors like on a jigsaw puzzle, but definitions and formulas that somewhere will have overlap. Start by looking at what they are asking for, and answering - what are the units of the answer I am supposed to get? Looking at the units of all the numbers given in the problem is a good clue to see the overlap and the way the data interlocks. See if you can make a path from the given info to the answer, unit-wise -- remembering sometimes it is easier to work backwards! Then you can start to see how it will all fit together. It does gets easier the more you do, but rest assured - everyone, - the A+ students, the teachers, the tutors and the textbook makers goes through the same process. Building this kind of problem solving ability will help you not only in this science class, but most math, science and business classes as well. Good luck! - Diane