Over the last two years of your high school career you’re typically faced with an onslaught of standardized tests. While many of these, such as the SAT, ACT, or SAT II tests are required as part of your college application package, the AP exams are somewhat unique in that they can actually affect your college coursework by placing you into higher level courses. Perhaps not surprisingly then, the AP exams are among the hardest of the standardized tests you’ll take, and require a much greater depth of knowledge in order to succeed. Today we’ll take a look at the format of the AP Chemistry exam and go over some strategies to help guide you through it.
We’ve spent some time in past weeks here talking about how to approach a degree in chemistry, but what we haven’t really talked about is what you can do with that degree.
Certainly, chemistry majors (and Ph. Ds) can follow academic careers, either as chemistry tutors, school teachers or research professors, but these opportunities aren’t really unique to the field of chemistry. However, mention the fact that you’re working towards any degree in chemistry, and you’ll almost certainly be asked if you’re planning on going into the pharmaceutical industry. So today we’ll take a brief look at the life cycle of a drug, and how chemists are instrumental (but definitely not alone) in the process.
Even with several experiments under your belt, such a challenge can be a bit overwhelming. In contrast to other lab activities, you’re often not given any instructions or guidance – you’re responsible for both designing and carrying out the lab. To make things worse, you’re typically not armed with the (expensive!) tools that a practicing chemist would use in such a situation. Assuming that you are given 10 samples to identify, there are 10!, or 3,628,800 ways to place the labels, only one of which is correct. Clearly, guessing isn’t really going to get the job done; beyond that, “guessing” isn’t really a valid experimental design element anyway.
While some may feel that no graduate students can adequately describe their research to a non-specialist in a few minutes, organic chemists (specifically, synthetic organic chemists) often find themselves at a much larger disadvantage for making casual conversation about what we do.
Even as chemistry tutors who are used to teaching and talking about chemistry, when we have ample time to describe our day-to-day activities, more often than not, friends and family still tend to image boiling flasks and vividly colored liquids when we mention we work in a lab. The author’s mother has a Ph. D in 19th century French literature, and the author has struggled on numerous occasions to describe his work. Today, we’ll look at why this is so difficult, and take a peek into what organic chemistry researchers actually do.
Organic chemistry can be frustrating, but it doesn't have to be if you find an able chemistry tutor or study group to help you with your class. Not sure where to start? Sign up for a free consultation!
We’ve previously spent some time here discussing how to approach a degree in chemistry and what to expect from graduate school. But the one thing we haven’t addressed so far is what these graduate schools are looking for from you.
Your author is not only a chemistry tutor, but is more than three years in towards a doctoral degree in organic chemistry. For advanced chemistry students, a frequent question is “Do I need to go to grad school?”
The short answer is, yes, for chemistry majors grad school is essentially a requirement. But that being said, it is a lot of school, and there are definitely jobs to be had without a Ph. D, so there’s nothing wrong with carving out your own path. So here are some things to consider during your undergrad career to help you with the decision.
As a chemistry tutor here in Cambridge, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is “What is chemistry like in college?”
Unfortunately, there’s no good answer to this question, since chemistry in college is very different from what is typically seen in high school classrooms.