1. Don’t fall behind. This is definitely easier said than done, but it is very important. If you are always trying to catch up, you will not be able to learn the new, current material and it will be harder to do well in the class. To keep up with the course load, it is helpful to study the material when you get a chance, that same day that you covered it in class. This is easy to do once you have developed a routine of doing it. One way to study and practice applying what you have learned is to use additional resources such as MasteringChemistry or practice problems out of your book.
2. Use your resources. A good habit to get into is frequenting your professor’s or TA’s office hours to discuss any questions that you have or get practice problems to work through. Also, forming study groups to go over lecture notes or practice and discuss difficult concepts. Watching videos from a reliable website like Khan Academy can similarly be really helpful to have the information presented in a different way than by your professor or textbook.
3. Lewis Structures: Write out each electron that each atom has first, then connect the dots to show where two atoms connect.
Source: Chem Wiki
4. Molecular Geometry: If you are a visual learner, buy or borrow a molecular model set (CAPS had one you can check out for free! Ask a handy tutor and they’ll get it from the front desk). This will help you physically see the shape of each molecule so that you can understand why BF3 is trigonal planar and not another shape. Making a table of specific geometries and molecules can also help if you want to see all of the differences between the geometries at a glance. It also helps if you memorize specific examples of each shape to help you relate to ones that you don’t know. For example, if you know that CH4 is tetrahedral and are asked what shape SO4 is, you can use previous knowledge to infer what molecular geometry this molecule has.
5. Practice. With practice, everything becomes easier. Putting in a little bit of time every day will help you learn better and make you less stressed when an exam comes. Remember: learning happens when you engage with the material over time, and in different ways!