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CHEM 1810 (Lab)UVA Home

Chemical Principles Laboratory (CHEM 181L)

Lab Final

Dear 1811 Chem Crew,

You are almost there!!! After a semester of hard work, you have only the final exam to go! We wanted to share with you some of our words of advice and wisdom from our experience taking the exam...read one, or skim them all...you'll find there are a few unifying themes!

Words of Wisdom from Bethany Bruno:

  1. Plan ahead - think of when your exams are and set aside time to work on the lab exam ahead of time.
  2. Don't try to take the exam all in one sitting - take a break and sleep on it!
  3. While the exam may take 3-4 hours for some people, it may take up to 10 hours - it just depends on your attitude and style as a student.
  4. Stay calm when you open the exam! If a question stumps you, take a step back and think about what it is testing. Relax, do some research, think, and the answer will come to you :)
  5. This is not an exam for which you need to study like crazy, but reviewing your lab notes and reports, at least briefly, is certainly recommended. You should also try some practice problems as they will help you know what to expect. Finally, be sure you are comfortable with Spartan!

Tidbits of Thought from Ellen Howerton:

  1. My biggest piece of advice would be to do the exam over a period of several days if it's at all possible with your exam schedule. I was able to revisit problems and add more to them as I thought of something else. Also, since the exam can be challenging, it doesn't hurt to look at it when it's released and then think about it for a few days before writing anything.
  2. Also, don't be afraid to check your reasoning with multiple resources (except people, of course). Since the text is open book, I wound up using my textbook from Harman's class, my old lab reports and lab handouts, and drawing spectra in Chemdraw to check myself.
  3. If you are not 100% sure of your answer to a question, give your best answer and clearly explain your reasoning. Professor Palmer will usually give partial credit for a good explanation, which definitely helps.

Secrets for Success by Alexis Chaet:

  1. Time is your biggest enemy on this exam. START EARLY... as early as you can so you have time for the questions to mull around in your mind! Some people have claimed to solve problems in their sleep...who knows, you might have a gift?
  2. STAY CALM if you are bamboozled upon a first glance. I read the question over many time, then started my search either with Google or my chemistry textbook. This test is designed so that you will actually know more after completing the exam than you did going in.
  3. Reviewing your notes might be helpful, but the test really challenges your ability to problem solve, NOT MEMORIZE.
  4. STAY ORGANIZED when you are running Spartan calculations or taking Spartan screenshots. Label each file in detail and run calculations carefully so you don't have to repeat them 3 times like I did!

Pearls of Knowledge from Usnish Majumdar:

  1. Scheduling time to work on this during exam week is important - it's easy to put this off and ultimately end up doing it under a lot of time pressure (which is not the intention of this exam).
  2. Upon receiving the exam, it's important to look up and understand any terms or concepts that are unfamiliar or hazy. Doing this earlier rather than later will give you more time to think about the problems themselves.
  3. I'd also advise you to make outlines of your responses to questions before diving into ChemDraw/Spartan calculations.

Points for Pondering from Sarah Tait:

  1. Allow yourself adequate time but also realize when writing more ISN'T going to add anything to your response.
  2. Review all labs and, more importantly, lab reports thoroughly.
  3. Trust yourselfdon't freak out if you don't immediately know an answer to a question.
© 2004-2013 Michael Palmer