Springtime in Chem II

Chem 102 has not been good to me recently. After doing poorly on an exam, I wanted to establish “control” over my performance, so I studied all night (I know, I know, I told myself no more all-nighters and broke the rule again) and then went to bed from 5am-7:15am, and got up and went back to my desk to take a look at the final type of problem.

At about 4 a.m. last night, I called it quits with studying because my brain was no longer processing very much. I had gone through all the different kinds of problems, and tackled identifying them, and figuring out which needed ICE charts and which didn’t, how to do conversions into (g/L), etc.

Of course, when taking any Chem II exam this semester, I am the queen of mistakes and foibles, which are driven by my anxiety and acute awareness that my heart feels like it’s being squeezed and is my throat, that my chest feels empty and cavernous and hollow one moment, and then I’m scared that I’m going to choke on how tight it feels. (Why I manifest text anxiety for just one class isn’t really clear to me.  I think it’s because my professor makes me nervous. She’s good at making me feel stupid and annoying. Suffice to say, our communication styles aren’t really in sync. Side note: You’re going to have to stop worrying/bitching about her. So she’s not warm and friendly. Accept it and move on.  You don’t even have to take O-Chem with her.)

I bought Cal Newport’s red book, and read it over the weekend. It had a number of suggestions that I’m trying, like using a calendar, using a manila folder system that contains study materials for each exam. There is a lot, and it would have been fun to try all of the suggestions when I was an undergrad. I really wish that there had been more helpful books out there when I was an undergrad, but I was in school pre-social media, so even if he had written the book, I wouldn’t have heard about it.

One of his suggestions is to always have a battle plan for studying for each exam. I usually do, but lately, for reasons I can’t figure out, it’s been difficult. I’ve been worrying that I’m getting a little burnt out or discouraged, but for the most part, I like school (and I love school when I’m knocking exams out of the park and feeling in control of how well I’m doing) and I sincerely don’t want to pursue any other kind of career.

But back on topic: Study battle plans. I’ll summarize what my battle plan for this quiz was:

Battle Plan: Quiz 5

  1. Identify which types of problems are asking for an ICE chart
  2. Identify which types of problems don’t need an ICE chart
  3. Practice HW problems on Solub. Equilibria
  4. Redo Sample Lecture Problems
  5. Redo Disc. Prob. Set #8
  6. Do Sample Quiz 4

One of the non-calculation type problems was on predicting the effect of acid and base on the solubility of an ionic compound. This is what I spent this morning figuring out before leaving for school.

When I first looked at the quiz, I got that same anxious feeling (with the plus of  the voice in my head firmly ordering myself to calm down immediately with a “C’mon Priya! Don’t screw yourself over by wasting time! Just start!”

So I started.

Summary and Crude Analysis of Quiz 5: An attempt to figure out what I’m doing wrong

Q1. I was asked to calculate how many grams per 500 ml of a common ion was necessary to move the reaction forward. [ (I think, I’m not certain that that was exactly what it asked.) I panicked a little because I didn’t think that I practiced one where I had done that, and I’m a careful thinker. Or I might have been dismayed and stunned that I had to be creative and think about how I could handle the problem. It didn’t make me feel in control. I think I saw it, got spooked, and had to calm myself down. Then I started doing what I was doing and I ended up calculating the cation instead of the anion and had to redo a portion of it. I wasn’t even thinking anymore. I remembered that I hadn’t practiced that kind of problem, and I lost confidence. =(]

Q2. I think it asked how much of an ionic compound could be dissolved to saturate 155 mL of water.  [I wish I’d done this analysis of the quiz earlier because I find I can’t exactly remember what about it made me feel insecure about it. Obviously not sleeping much stalled my brain for creative thinking, but I’m suddenly wondering why I can’t remember, when I’m in the midst of studying and full of adrenaline and feeling like a master of solubility equilibria, that if I don’t sleep enough, my brain stalls during quizzes and can only panic and model problems. Anyway, the idea of dissolving the original ionic compound was suddenly a strange idea. I’m sure I practiced a problem that could be its doppelganger, but maybe lack of sleep made it impossible to remember. Also, the only thing I looked at in the morning before lecture was the acid or base effect on ionic compounds problem, so it’s very likely that I could have benefited from reviewing all the material early in the morning. I think I sat down to study at around 9 pm and lasted until 4 am, which is 7 hours.  Jeez, there is something wrong with me. I should not spend 7 hours studying (though she only had us practice the ppt problems during Monday lecture and discussion, and I have a huge long  lab right afterwards, then a long Biology lecture and lab. I need a nap. I want to figure this out, how to do this right and finish the semester off strong.)]

Q3. Would adding some ionic compound to another ionic compound cause the solid to dissolve, ppt, or would the addition have no effect. [I was busy redoing Q1. when I realized I had five minutes left. Fine. I DIDN’T READ THE PROBLEM and assumed it was the acid/base effect on solub. equilibria that we had done in our lecture and discussion sets. Nope. Eff=(]

I desperately need a shower and a nap and some food. I want to study but my mind is shutting down I’m also starting to feel depressed and worried about my abilities. During break, I hand-copied key points in one of Cal’s posts that talks about not worrying that you aren’t “meant” to do something. He said you just need to change your strategy.

To Do

  • Stop being frustrated
  • Stop fucking staying up all night. Your mind feels like a rusty trap, and you can’ t think. Stop being stupid.
  • Start preparing earlier by identifying types of problems first  (right after completing HW) instead of making “identify problem types” as part of your review/study process
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