Home > Chemistry > [#7] – Chemistry 102 – Introductory University Chemistry II

[#7] – Chemistry 102 – Introductory University Chemistry II

Today’s post marks the second half of my introductory chemistry experience.  After living through a less than ideal outing of Chem 101, I was motivated to try harder, and to do better, in Chem 102.  I had begun to adopt my much ignored, and often overlooked, high school motto: “Fortuna audaces iuvat,” which is Latin for: “Fortune Favors The Strong.” (Or at least, I think it was my high school motto … Either that, or I saw it on a bumper sticker once)


Batteries (a.k.a. electrochemical cells) were one of the many things that we studied in this course.




Alas, as I was still a naive first year, my outlook was plagued by a false sense of entitlement.  I believed, erroneously, that the harder I worked, in terms of effort, the better my grades would be.  I did not take into account the most important thing of all … working smart; studying intelligently.  One could read the textbook, scrutinizing every word, until the cows come home, and yet, not know a thing about how to successfully solve problems come exam time.  In order to achieve a truly remarkable grade in courses such as chemistry, a fair amount of time must be spent doing practice problems.  I wasn’t aware of this, at the time, however.  It was remiss of me, I know; I am all the more wiser, though. 


Course:  Chemistry 102 – Introductory University Chemistry II

Instructor:  Murray Carmichael

Textbook:  Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change – by Silberberg (5th ed)



This course rounded off what we needed to know about the world of inorganic chemistry.  We covered reaction rates, thermodynamics and equilibrium, and electro-chemistry; all of which were heavily problem oriented.

Format-wise, Chemistry 102 was nearly identical to Chemistry 101.  I deemed this as a good thing, because I’m a frenzied fan of familiarity.  There was a lecture component, a lab component, and an optional help session (seminar).  Similar to Chem 101, the labs were a lengthy commitment.  It was all too common for us students to be found either mulling over tricky pre-labs, or bickering about the nefarious post-labs. (This was/is a way of life for most first years)

Content-wise, Chem 102 focused more on problem solving than Chem 101, its conceptual counterpart.  Our professor had a habit of assigning a seemingly infinite number of practice problems from the textbook.  These questions were not for marks, and intended for us to ‘get a feel’ of how the exam questions would be like.  It goes without saying that I should have done more of them!  Instead, I allocated too much time and effort to reading over the notes, and fussing over the lab component.  Although I studied a lot for this course, I made the error of not studying smart.

This brings me to my next point, the notes.  On the night before every lecture, the professor would post a skeleton-copy of the notes for the upcoming class.  We were expected to bring this partially completed set of notes to the lecture and proceed to fill in the remainder of the bullets.  In my experience, this is actually quite standard pedagogics.  What was not standard, was the fact that after every lecture, our professor would end up posting, online, the complete, filled in set of notes.  Therefore, upon retrospection, I technically could have gotten away with not attending any of the lectures (this would have left more free time for me to complete the problem sets!).  Nevertheless, I was too naive to take advantage of this opportunistic time-saver, and instead, chose to attend each and every lecture.

All regrets aside, let’s talk about the exams.  They were, for lack of a better word, tough.  The class averages for both of our midterms were horrendously low; they were in the low 50’s and 40’s, if I’m not mistaken.  At times I questioned the instructor’s sense of sanity.  Did he have some sort of prurient interest in our suffering?  Was he making these tests just too darn difficult?  Other times I would question ‘us’, the students.  Could the low averages be due to the fact that virtually no one in the class did the practice problems?  Whatever the reason, I believe that neither party is entirely to blame; the professor wrote challenging (but not impossible) exams, and the students were not as prepared as they could have been.

Moral: be vigilant; be on the lookout for ways to save yourself time and energy.  Don’t be afraid to deviate from normality.  (In this case, I should not have bothered with the lectures and ought to have spent much more time on the practice problems)


Class Average:  ~ B-  (2.6 GPA)

My Grade:  B+  (3.3 GPA)

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    January 7, 2016 at 2:17 pm

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