News & Updates
September 1, 2019
The Benefits Of Having A General Chemistry Tutor
Chemistry is one of the hardest subjects. It’s one of the most popular and common subjects that we assist with at Tutor Portland. General chemistry concepts (in both college and high school) are challenging because gen chem forces you to think and understand what is going on. In addition, the subject is highly quantitative.
But the best students are able to weave in both a qualitative and quantitative understanding. This is something that I worked very hard at developing. I was always trying to understand big concepts. I figured that if I understood how the molecules were interacting and what was happening in the beaker, then I would do just fine on the exams. And that played out to be true. In chemistry, even highly quantitative problems can often be solved without crunching any numbers. If you have a really good understanding of the laws and properties of chemistry—and the definitions of the terms—then you can often figure out the answer to multiple-choice problems without using your calculator.
Challenges With General Chemistry In School
Another reason that general chemistry is challenging is that there is often intense time-pressure on the examinations. You might have two or three minutes per problem. And some easily require four or five. That means you have to use your time very wisely. You have to have calculated so many practice problems, that you are acting on muscle memory. When you see a simple problem, you don’t even have to think about it, you just start plugging numbers into your calculator instantly. And you can’t be slowly typing numbers in. You are *flying* through that exam.
One of the best tricks is to be able to answer some of the longer quantitative problems instantly without having to calculate. If you have a really solid understanding of the principles of chemistry, then you should be able to do this. While your friends are struggling to calculate these long problems, you will have moved on and will have more time to spend on other difficult problems. That’s why learning concepts is so valuable.
Learning about the concepts of chemistry is valuable for other reasons, too. These are powerful concepts that you can apply to everyday life. They help you think about the world. They also help you ponder the world around you. It’s fascinating to learn about the autoionization of water. H2O is constantly changing form right in front of our eyes, switching back and forth between water, hydronium, and hydroxide. That makes you realize the law of imperanance—that nothing in life is truly permanent, everything is constantly changing shape. Things are unstable. When you truly feel and grasp this concept, you will have peace because it teaches you that there is nothing to cling to or hold onto. If things are constantly changing, it doesn’t make rational sense to try and cling to anything. Without clinging there is no attachment. Without attachment, there is no agitation. And without agitation one is able to attain nirvana. That’s one of the many connections between chemistry and Buddhism. Chemistry can also connect to investing. Just as water is constantly changing, so too is the stock market. Everyday “Mr. Market” comes to you and tries to offer you stock at a certain price. And all you have to do is wait. You can wait for the day when that price is low enough, and then you buy.
Other science courses also teach us lessons about life. For example, Biology teaches us about “fundamental” and “realized” niches. Fundamental niches are the total amount of space and resources that a species could possibly occupy. But no species ever realizes it’s entire fundamental niche. Species are only able to attain their “realized” niche. This is the same in your life. It has brought me a great deal of peace to realize that it’s natural that I won’t reach *all* of my goals. I won’t attain my entire fundamental niche. But I can attain my realized niche!
In addition, many species in biology are able to find co-niches. Instead of complete competition, they are able to live side-by-side and even benefit from each other. We can see this play out in life as companies compete with each other in the market. They often don’t entirely destroy other companies. Each company is able to carve out its niche. This is the same with people, too.
Other ideas in chemistry help us think about life. For example, we can consider how the ideas in bonding theory relate to our life. I like to think about how when a bond is created there is actually a decrease in potential energy, and the new molecule is more stable. This is one of the benefits that relationships and other people bring to our life. When we engage with intimate relationships and close friendships and family, our lives actually become more stable than they were before.
One huge idea in chemistry and biology is the old “structure and function” lesson. This concept says that the structure of something correlates very closely with its function. This gets very specific in subjects such as organic chemistry. The smallest changes in structure—the placement of an atom or even the 3D shape of something—can dramatically change its function. This can help us ponder our own structure. What are our strengths? What function in society would we be best suited for? What will my life look like at a certain school, job, or occupation? The structure of the day is so different depending on what you choose.
But most importantly, underneath all of this, chemistry is simply inherently interesting. It is fascinating to learn about these ideas. Still, even with the vast beauty of chemistry, it’s very challenging to convince kids and students to like it. It takes finesse. It requires good communication skills and an open, likable personality. You have to think about things from the kid’s perspective. How can you connect with them? How can you empathize with their life? Try to think, connect, and feel what might be going on in their life. Chemistry is probably the last thing in the world they want to focus on. I always thank my students and tell them: “I know that Chemistry is the last thing you want to be doing on a Sunday, so thanks for putting the time and effort in. It won’t be too long or terrible, and we’ll get through it.”
This builds connection and rapport. With that little sentence, you have separated yourself from teachers and other educators who only care about imparting their agenda. This sentence shows that you are actually taking an interest in *their* life and attempting to see things from their perspective. If you ever want a student to try and see your perspective on something, you first have to try seeing theirs. That is how you build a connection. And connection and rapport are how any great learning process begins.
Hire A Chemistry Tutor
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September 1, 2019
Organic chemistry is widely accepted—and universally feared—as one of the most difficult and challenging college courses. It’s incredibly complex because of the sheer amount of content you are forced to learn in a short time. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of rules to memorize and commit to memory. One small mistake with these can cost you a significant number of points. But that’s just the beginning.
Organic chemistry is challenging because it requires you to think critically. Successful students need to have an understanding of a vast framework of conceptual ideas. They need to be able to visualize molecules and understand and predict entire reaction sequences in their head. Students are asked to do all of this while remembering thousands of rules, each with multiple distinctions and degrees of nuance.
Because organic chemistry is so hard, many of the teachers aren’t good at teaching it! This compounds the problem. Most organic chemistry professors aren’t good at explaining the difficult concepts they teach. Thus, many students struggle. And some choose to not take the class entirely. I’ve met people who chose not to become doctors, or who avoiding studying science altogether, because of their fear of organic chemistry.
People are right when they say: “you can’t wait until the last minute to try and cram and learn O chem.” It doesn’t work. There is a lot of evidence which shows that we learn better when force ourselves to access information more frequently throughout extended periods. And this is especially true with subjects like organic chemistry: courses which require you to synthesize vast bodies of knowledge and apply them in new ways to solve challenging problems.
When I first started studying organic chemistry, I purchased the textbook and spent all summer reading it. I even sat in on the summer lectures and absorbed everything I could. I didn’t always understand what the teacher was saying because the summer course moves very quickly and I was also a bit behind in my reading. But struggling to think about the ideas in the class was helpful. And I saw from a unique angle what core ideas were used throughout the entire course and thus would be very useful to know and understand well.
I realized that as with other subjects, it’s not about the number of resources you have available to you, it’s about how resourceful you are. Their resources are there. You can attend the O-chem course the year before you take the class. You can buy ten textbooks online and read them all. You can go to your professor’s office hours. You can find videos online. You can hire a tutor who works with you on an unlimited basis. The resources are all there. What matters is how badly *you* want to succeed. College is different from high school. In high school, the drive didn’t matter as much. You could get by
That being said, if you want to take your chemistry to the next level, we certainly offer organic chemistry tutoring here at Tutor Portland. I (Eric) do this tutoring myself. Since finding a good organic chemistry tutor is so rare, our rates for this are separate from our regular tutoring. Our organic tutoring is billed on a per-hour basis.
Organic Chemistry Tutor Portland Oregon
Having been through Organic Chemistry myself, I think that tutoring is a good option if the subject of chemistry is starting to make you feel stressed or if you are starting to fall behind. But I strongly encourage students to seek help as early as they can because organic chemistry is a very challenging subject to learn. It’s a difficult subject to learn if you only have a handful of days before your exam.
One of the biggest recommendations I make for any learning program is that students invest a little bit of time each day learning and working with the material from a subject. There is a lot of research that shows when students force themselves to access information on different occasions spread out over time, they learn better and have improved recall of the concepts. This is especially true with Organic Chemistry. This subject is no joke. There is a reason why everyone thinks it is so difficult. It earned its reputation for a good reason. You have to start studying early for Organic Chemistry.
When I first started learning O-Chem I spent my summer studying the subject for 1.5 to 2 hours every single day. Before the course even started in the fall, I had already spent nearly 200 hours studying the subject.
My attitude was this: I don’t want to *just* earn an A in this course. I don’t want to *just* be top of my class. I want my professor to say, “this is the best organic chemistry student we have seen in fifty years.” And my work ethic backed this up.
That’s the type of work ethic and attitude I will bring to our tutoring sessions. I don’t just want you to pass organic chemistry. I want you to dominate the subject. And that is certainly possible. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication on your part, though having an experienced tutor can save you hundreds of hours. One key I learned is that some certain chapters and concepts repeat themselves. For example, when I was taking O-Chem II in the summer, I made a note when the professor said, “the acid-base chapter is the most important content in the whole O-chem series. It comes up time and time again. So make sure you know that stuff.” I took note of that and when I read the chapter I invested a lot of time into it.
That’s the way O-chem goes. There are some small concepts you think are nominal and not important. But actually, those might be the most important concepts in the entire course. That’s one reason why it is helpful to have a tutor guiding you in your studies.
If you would like to get started with tutoring today, click the button below to schedule a free tutoring session:
Pre Medical Tutoring In Portland Oregon (PDX)
If you want to become a doctor, your future likely rests on your ability to succeed in organic chemistry. Medical schools use this course as a test. They want to ensure that you can handle the rigor of medical school. Organic chemistry requires you to learn, synthesize, and apply vast quantities of knowledge and countless interweaving concepts. Having someone to help you is a *huge* advantage. If you’d like to schedule a session, please contact me personally: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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