Why I Barely Passed Chemistry

When I took Chemistry 101 in college my Freshman year I was confused over my grades in the class–and so was my professor. I had an “A” average on the homework, a “B” average in the lab and a “D” average on the lecture tests.

The professor was confused because he claimed that all of the material was the same, and that the lab work was supposedly harder than the lecture. It wasn’t for another two years of this struggle that I learned about my issue. Because the homework was done in a computer lab I felt comfortable taking my time working out each problem and looking up online advice–so making an “A” was easy to me. Doing the lab work was fun because it was hands-on and I could see my results. Lecture made no sense to me, because I could not visualize what he was saying and he was cramming in a chapter and a half of material into 50 minutes–a chapter and a half of material that I did not understand reading earlier anyway.

So I had to improvise: take what was written and turn it into something visual. If I used note cards, I almost always drew something on them. And if I didn’t draw, I simply Googled the image, printed it out, cut it out, and taped it to the back of  the card. I also wrote two different definitions on my note cards: one was the textbook definition and the other was one that I made up–something that only I was going to remember. It wasn’t anything worthy of a Nobel, but it started bumping up my grades quite a bit.