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Math Skills


For many beginning chemistry students, the study of chemistry is another math class. While we cannot avoid some math, most of the chemistry problems at the high school level may be solved through simple ratios or dimensional analysis.

Algebra

main article: Algebra

Algebra is one of the main branches of mathematics. In order to succeed in high school chemistry, students must have good skills in elementary algebra, the most basic form of algebra. The distinction between algebra and arithmetic (math) is that numbers in algebra are often denoted by symbols. For example, instead of saying there are 32 students in the room, an observer might state there are Q students in the room, where Q is equal to the actual number of students.


Scientific Notation

main article: Scientific notation

Scientific notation is a special type of exponential notation that allows scientists to express very large or very small numbers. For example, 6.022 x 1023 is a common number used in chemistry.


Significant Digits

main article: Significant figures

All measurements have an amount of certainty and uncertainty.


Dimensional Analysis

main article: Dimensional Analysis

Dimensional analysis is a problem solving method that uses the math concept that any number or expression multiplied by the number one is unchanged. <ref> Math Skills Review Dimensional Analysis. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Http://www.chem.tamu.edu/class/fyp/mathrev/mr-da.html</ref> It is also referred to as the factor-label method or unit factor method. <ref>Fun with Dimensional Analysis. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from http://www.alysion.org/dimensional/fun.html</ref>

The key to dimensional analysis is to correctly use units of measurements in solving problems.

Downloads

Practice Problems: Algebra
Practice Problems: Algebra Part II
Practice Problems: Scientific Notation
Practice Problems: Significant Digits
Practice Problems: Significant Digits Part II
Practice Problems: Dimensional Analysis

References

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