Chemistry Degree Watch

wombat746
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How much memorisation is involved in Chemistry at University?

At A-level I struggle to memorise the specific organic reaction conditions for synthesis steps, the various colours for transition metal complexes and the redox reactions for fuels cells/autocatalysis examples. On the other hand, I much prefer applied knowledge topics and questions such as working out synthetic routes.

Does anyone have any experience of whether this level of memorisation of reagents/conditions/colours continues to be the case at university or does it become more about applied knowledge/logical approaches to working out questions?
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iElvendork
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University is definitely more about applied knowledge
You're taught basic mechanism steps, and products and then in the exam you have to do a problem solving exercise using what you've learnt
There is a bit of memorising - reagents for synthesis steps, most common oxidation states etc. but that's to be expected - out of say 100 marks on a paper, maybe 10 or 15 will be full memory recall, the rest can be learnt through understanding the processes
But when you start revising, especially doing practice questions, you slowly start to memorise it, and it just become second nature - you don't realise that you've remembered it

I know someone who could only rope-learn, they didn't properly understand things, he barely managed to graduate with a 2:2
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wombat746
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(Original post by iElvendork)
University is definitely more about applied knowledge
You're taught basic mechanism steps, and products and then in the exam you have to do a problem solving exercise using what you've learnt
There is a bit of memorising - reagents for synthesis steps, most common oxidation states etc. but that's to be expected - out of say 100 marks on a paper, maybe 10 or 15 will be full memory recall, the rest can be learnt through understanding the processes
But when you start revising, especially doing practice questions, you slowly start to memorise it, and it just become second nature - you don't realise that you've remembered it

I know someone who could only rope-learn, they didn't properly understand things, he barely managed to graduate with a 2:2
Thanks, great to hear then as the applied knowledge/problem solving approach to questions definitely appeals more to me than memory recalling. I assume this would be the same case at any university offering Chemistry?
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iElvendork
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(Original post by wombat746)
Thanks, great to hear then as the applied knowledge/problem solving approach to questions definitely appeals more to me than memory recalling. I assume this would be the same case at any university offering Chemistry?
Definitely, any decent chemistry course wants to test your abilities to problem solve rather just memorise
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EierVonSatan
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Don't be fooled, you will need to be able to recall a significant amount of material in order to tackle the application questions.
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wombat746
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(Original post by EierVonSatan)
Don't be fooled, you will need to be able to recall a significant amount of material in order to tackle the application questions.
I understand that as well as getting my head around the various factors that need to be considered before answering questions. The only part that I was concerned with was just simple memory recall such as transition metal complex colours, simply stating organic reaction conditions etc.
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EierVonSatan
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(Original post by wombat746)
I understand that as well as getting my head around the various factors that need to be considered before answering questions. The only part that I was concerned with was just simple memory recall such as transition metal complex colours, simply stating organic reaction conditions etc.
After A-level I don't recall ever needing to remember the colours of any solutions transition metal complexes or otherwise. The emphasis in organic chemistry shifts to a mechanisms, but there will still be reagent and condition combinations to recall for various reactions.
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username2858058
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You’ll also need to be aware of the reactivites of different functional groups (and there are loaaaads), rough pka values, electron donating/withdrawing groups etc.

Also, there are tonnes of reaction conditions. And they are often quite similar but very hard to remember all.
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username2858058
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And of course things like remembering which models/projections to use when answering questions on stereochemistry, as well as the rules that need to be applied.

I can only speak of organic chemistry, since this is all i’ve done throughout university.
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