First-Year Chemistry

Special resources to help you navigate your first year of our chemistry curriculum.

First-Year Chemistry

Students gather to study in the Bush Atrium. The Chemistry Department sponsors free tutoring three nights a week for students enrolled in first-year chemistry.

Before You Begin: How to Prepare for CHM 120, Chemistry I

We've found that a key determinant of success in CHM 120 is skill in elementary algebra.  In particular, students in CHM 120 need to be proficient in:
  • Unit conversions (also called dimensional analysis):  If you are a little familiar with chemistry from high school, practice conversions with the mole and Avogadro's number rather than things like feet to inches.  Make sure you can do one-to-three dimensional conversions (e.g. converting milliliters into cubic liters).
  • Fractions and percentages.
  • Scientific notation is the way that scientists easily handle very large or very small numbers. For example, instead of writing 0.0000000034, we write 3.4 x 10-9. You need to be completely proficient in scientific notation, including knowing how to add/subtract/multiply/divide numbers in this form and how exponents/roots are handled.
  • Logarithms: you need to be able to use both "log" and "ln" (both bases), and be able to solve something like "9 = log x" for x.
  • You should be able to very easily solve a problem like this: PV=nRT  Rearrange this equation to solve for "n". 
  • You should be able to graph simple linear functions and understand y = mx + b.
  • Significant figures: this is a big one that a lot of people have issues with.  You need to be able to identify the number of significant figures in a number and perform basic mathematical operations while retaining the correct number of significant figures.

Fun Stuff!

Ever wondered why bacon smells so delicious? It's chemistry, of course.

Department of Chemistry
Rollins College
1000 Holt Ave. - 2743
Winter Park, FL 32789
407.646.2223
Bush Science Center
pmason@rollins.edu