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SciTech study tips: Chemistry

When starting Chemistry at Warwick, it is the transition that is challenging and not just the prospect of beginning university. Though difficult at first, there are a few things you can do before you start to make the transition easier.

For those soon to begin their first year, a visit to Chemguide every now and then would be very useful to address the gaps in your knowledge of A Level Chemistry. The Department of Chemistry at Warwick provides a recommended reading list that can be used to refresh your knowledge of the subject. I certainly benefitted a lot from reading What is Chemistry by Peter Atkins over summer before starting my first year. The book effectively takes you on a tour of A Level Chemistry and reminds you of things you’ve most likely forgotten since you sat your last exam. To develop your commercial awareness of the chemical field, as well as learn about the latest research, reading Chemistry World is a great start. FutureLearn courses to learn new things over summer is never a bad idea especially given the range of topics available for you to choose from.

To develop your commercial awareness of the chemical field, as well as learn about the latest research, reading Chemistry World is a great start

Maths, physics and biology are found in chemistry and the fields overlap more than they do in the A Level course. For maths, having purchased the book Maths for Chemists but not having used it is a great regret. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I have struggled with my understanding of many of the Further Maths topics during my two years at university so far. Even if you don’t want to invest in the book, there are plenty of online resources that can help you tackle some of the harder maths questions.

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of biology, and physics is only nice when it makes sense, but you will find that you must study elements from both these subjects. After two years of studying Chemistry, I can tell you that these subjects only make the course even more colourful than it already is. There is no harm in considering reading some books that discuss the biology or the physics inherent in chemistry. Limiting yourself to A Level Biology would be sufficient during your early years where you should aim to focus on the topics related to biochemistry and genetics, such as action potentials and DNA. With regards to physics, the Hyperphysics website won’t let you down if you don’t want to buy books.

Going over the material over summer should form a part of the commitment towards our course because no longer are we learning only for the sake of exams. This knowledge is going to build your ability to work with unknown problems. Most importantly, a ‘when am I next going to ever have to deal with quantum mechanics?’ attitude will not take you far. You may get the required 40% in the exam in first year, but chances are you will be stuck in the following year. So, the best thing is to view your degree as a three- or four-year relationship and you want to give it your all so you can marry it in the end (oops, I mean graduate).

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