Tips for acing the AP exam!

AP (advanced placement) courses are held every year with the goal of letting high school students experience and clear college level curricula and examinations (to put it mildly).

AP exams determine a student’s fate when it comes to being offered a course in a college of their choice. Of course, It comes naturally that a student MUST score high enough to catch the college board’s attention, which is easier said than done.

Having said that, here are a few tips which will help you tackle your AP exam with ease!
Following these is half the battle won!

  1. Focus on the question: be the question!
    Many students jump into the exam with certain expectations as to what sort of questions might be asked in the exam, which can be quite disastrous. More often than not AP, questions tend to be misleading, putting the student in a tizzy as to what is actually being asked. For example, if a question were to ask about the effect of temperature on reaction rate, don’t imagine that the question had asked about the effect of temperature on the equilibrium constant. Read questions carefully, and underline the important components that you know the answer must address.


  1. Hey, what’s the time?

Like all exams, AP exams are time bound, meaning that you cannot prance around like a magic pixie horse, stopping to solve a random question and then taking a little over a century to come to the answer. Wear a watch, divide the questions into time slots, dedicating time to a question based on its difficulty on the spot. It goes without saying that easy questions shouldn’t take more than a minute (literally). This will also mean that you would have to be aware of the time after doing each and every question. Your goal is to reach the end of every section. (after all, the easiest questions might be at the end!!)


  1. Practice your performance beforehand.

Much like a musician practices playing a song a thousand times over before the concert, you must practice how to answer an AP question. This does not include your homework questions or your AP book questions. Go to the internet and search for old AP question papers and try solving them. As you revise your answers, think critically about which topics you are struggling with and may need to review.


  1. Present your work as if you were presenting it to Darth Vader

There are no points for neatness or presentation. However, there is a very good reason to present your work in an organised and legible fashion: Graders are human (surprise!). That means that late at night, after slogging through many days of grading thousands of exam papers, the last thing that a grader wants to do is try to decipher your scrawl and scribble. They are likely to get frustrated at the effort it’s taking and may not give you the benefit of the doubt if there is a judgement call to be made about one of your answers. Help them to help you!


  1. Units and significant figures- know what to use, and when to use it
    There is only one point in the whole free-response section assigned to significant figures, and, moreover, it is not flagged for you. Make the best of this opportunity and avoid losing the easy point. As a broad rule of thumb, record your answer to any numerical problem with the same number of significant figures as given in the weakest piece of data. Remember, using the wrong units can be disastrous enough to send a rocket plummeting back to the earth (no joke, this has happened before).Using feet instead of meters has cost people their lives. what will it do to your AP exam?
  2. Double check your calculations

This is a general rule for every exam, especially for calculation intensive exams like AP.
As the test taker it is your responsibility to check that every last calculation has been performed to perfection. Even being off the mark by a single digit can cost you the entire question. Double check everything that you do, while making sure that the calculation you are doing are actually necessary.

ap exam calc check

Follow these tips and you have already won half the battle of the legendary AP exam!
AP exam dragon


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How to Solve Logarithms

How to Solve Logarithms: a Study guide of its basics.

This article will cover the misunderstood little devil of maths: logarithm. Considered to be tough by most beginners, This little critter is a legend, known for giving students brain cramps. headaches, bad grades and nightmares.Most students are brave and try to take these monsters by the horns.

logarithm : study guide for good grades

In the times of old, the brave student stood undaunted in the face of the monstrosity that went by the name of Logarithm!

Generally, in mathematics that is often a good idea, but, if you are new to logarithms, a layman’s approach is a much better option. Here we will learn how to solve logarithms in a simple and fun manner.

Wikipedia defines logarithm as

The logarithm is the inverse operation to exponentiation. That means the logarithm of a number is the exponent to which another fixed value, the base, must be raised to produce that number.

Its a well written definition, it defines logarithms in the general manner, so that all bases are covered AND it successfully gives the new student a brain cramp.Hence, the misunderstood devil of maths.

This is where this article comes in handy. This will help the student in tackling the basics of logarithms so that one day, the student can use it in the battle of maths.

logarithm: study guide for good grades

Logarithms: Forward ! my magnificent clucker!

Logarithm : the power of powers

consider a number called “x” having a power n such that:

xn = P (basepower = answer)

where P is the result of multiplying x to itself, n number of times.

Now, the logarithm of the above will be:

LogxP = n

The number whose power was being calculated , will be the base of the logarithm, The value P forms the answer, and n is the power

Logbase(answer) = Power

There you go! So much for the little devil of maths! That above, is the complete mathematical definition of log, in simple english!

Let’s understand this by a few examples!


what is the value of Log39

Step one, check the base, and the answer.

The base is 3, the answer is 9, so…whats the power????

logarithm : study guide for good grades

Logarithm : a little calculation required

Its 2 ! there’s your answer!

Log39 = 2

Here are a few other examples that the reader can try :







The first and last one are a little different. in the last part, notice there is “1” in the answer part?? Think of a power that results in the answer in being “1”. Similarly, in the first part, what power of 4 is 64? The answer will be the inverse of that (root).

Section 2: Weapons of logarithm

Logarithms , like other mathematical functions, have a set of properties, which allow us to twist and bend them according to our need. Here are the basic few of those properties.

1. Loga(mn) = loga(m) + loga(n)

If 2 answer values are in multiplication, and they share the same log base, then they can be written as a summation of 2 seperate log values.


Find the value of log5(3125)

now we first break down the answer value

3125 = 625*5 or 3125=25*125

lets take the first one and put in the given question


using the 1st property, we get:

log5(625) + log5(5)

now we break down the powers using the 2nd property.

2.Loga(m)n = nloga(m) (if answer value has a power, it can be rewritten as power*loga(answer))

Applying in the question above, we get:

625 = 54, 5 = 51

log5(5)4 + log5(5)1

4log5(5) + 1log5(5)

clearly, we get

4+1 = 5

So, the first to properties were easy enough to understand.

The third one also deals with arithmetic functions within a log.

3. Loga(m/n) = Loga(m) – Loga(n)

When a division occurs within a logarithm, the answer values can be rewritten as seperate log values in subtraction. The value in the denominator will always be the value too be subtracted from the numerator.

Example: Find the value of Log3(81/27)

Applying 3rd property

Log3(81) – Log3(27)

= 4 – 3 = 1 (since 81 is 34 and 27 is 33)

4. Loga(m)n = nloga(m)

A very simple yet incredibly useful rule, can be used to calculate any logarithm as long as m = a. It can also be used to simplify given logarithmic expresseions.


Find Log3(81) – Log3(27) (taken from previous example)

Apply 4th property.

Log3(3)4 – Log3(3)3

= 4Log3(3) – 3Log3(3)

= 4 – 3 = 1

The answer is the same as in property 3, however using the 4th property to find the answer is more formal, and is expected to be written as such if such a question is given in an exam.

5. This property comes in handy, when we have to change the base value (a) of the log to the required value (b).

Loga(m) = Logb(m)/(Logb(a))

Notice that, in the denominator, the old base has become the answer value. This allows us to simplify log calculations to a certain degree.This property should be used according to situation.


Find Log125(25)

the base is 125, and the answer is 25. we will not be able to calculate the log by conventional means or deduction by power.

Lets use the 5th property.

We need a base that will satisfy as a base for the previous base (125) as well as the current answer (25). 5 is the only option.


2/3 = 0.666

6. Loga(b) = 1/Logb(a)

Sometimes, the 5th property can prove to be too lengthy for a base conversion. Depending on the situation, it can be easier just to switch the base with the answer value.



using the 5th property here will be nothing short of stupidity. Lets quicken the pace here –

using 6th property

we get:

Log625(5) = 1/Log5(625)

= 1/4

= 0.25

Easy, right?

We have covered the basic properties of logarithm, and will be attempting some questions in the next article to gain a deeper understanding of Logarithms.

Who said you can’t tame the dragon??





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Chemistry Homework Problems : Tips and Strategies to Conquer Them

Chemistry problems for homework are an important part of the process of learning Chemistry. Attempting the problems or any other aspects of the lesson helps to consolidate your knowledge by trying it out yourself..

Homework in any subject, however, can make you groan. Chemistry being a daunting subject as it is, the Chemistry problems then appears even more formidable. It however is a inseparable part of the learning process and solving the chemistry problems by oneself boosts the knowledge as well as the confidence of the student.

The fear of Chemistry pervades from the lack of understanding of the subject itself. As with any subject, even more so with Chemistry, the basics of the subject must be understood first before moving on to the details. It often happens that the student is not able to understand these basics and yet the class has moved ahead to other topics. This may be due to any reason- probably missing a few classes due to sickness etc or even lack of attention during the classes. What it leads to is a gap in learning and as the student proceeds ahead to further topics, he/she finds it even more difficult to correlate the aspects. Chemistry Homework hence appears a big challenge as it becomes difficult to attack the problems due to incomplete understanding.

Conquering the Chemistry Homework hence must focus on gaining an insight into the related aspects of the problem and then attacking the problem itself. The following steps would therefore help in solving the homework problems:

  1. Analyze the problem and break it down into parts. This is the most important step and gives you the ingredients that would go into solving the problem.
  2. Identify the parts that you can take on yourself and those which would need further understanding / learning. This gives you the learning requirements or the gaps in learning which you need to bridge in order to solve the problem.
  3. Gain a thorough understanding of the learning requirements outlined earlier. This is probably the difficult part but the most crucial one. The student must go about it with sincerity so as to understand the basics of the subject which will then form the bedrock on which the rest of the knowledge will be built. The best way will be to take help of additional resources available on the internet for understanding the subject. Often it may be difficult for the student to do it by himself / herself and additional help may be required. Tutoring with a specialized tutor may often prove valuable at this stage to clear the questions that may remain.

There are also a number of websites which offer direct homework help. They would provide the solution to the homework problems for a charge. However I would recommend that one should obtain help in learning rather than to get someone to do it for  you. Obviously getting the work done through someone helps you little in learning and ultimately your grade would fall. This option can be used when one is in dire straits and running short on time.

  1. Go back to the problem and now attempt it. Hopefully you will be able to solve it now.

If despite your efforts you are not able to do the homework, it is best to explain the circumstances to your teacher and seek help in understanding the topics. Take my word- Your teacher will appreciative of the efforts made by you and will go all out to help you bridge the gaps in knowledge.

Here’s wishing you all the best for your Chemistry Homework.

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How To Study Organic Chemistry To Get a A-Plus On It

Organic Chemistry is the most interesting and easy to learn subject of all the sciences. However a lot of students find it daunting. The fear of Organic chemistry pervades from a lack of understanding of the subject which itself stems from a incorrect approach to learning the subject.

There are two basic steps in learning organic chemistry – Reasoning and Practice. In my experience of twenty years teaching chemistry, I have come across a lot of students and they have done very well for themselves by just following the above steps. Some of the basic considerations that go into learning chemistry are as follows:

  1. Organic Chemistry is Not Tough. Organic chemistry is not tough at all. It is one of the most systematic sciences. This subject needs more practice and if you are comfortable in writing and identification of compounds from different structural notations, I am sure that it will provide you with a good start. Remember that 40 percent of organic chemistry is done if you are good at identification of structural formulae or writing the structures.
  1. Don’t Just Read It – Practice It. – You can clear your concepts only by doing questions. You need to do minimum 10-20 different questions from every concept in order to master it. For example, Carbocations concept governs the preferred product formation in many a reactions. Every book has a detailed explanation of the meaning and stability of the carbocations. Understanding the concept of order of stability is very simple and straightforward, However the problem occurs when you start to apply the concepts to the problem. Identification of different types of carbocations becomes easy only after you have practiced different questions based on it.
  1. Breakup Your Chapter Into Small Topics. For example, Writing Lewis Structures, Resonance, Tautomerism etc. You need not cram the language given in the book, Read the topics thoroughly to understand them. For example in the resonance topics, there are many do:s and don’t:s. Do not cram them because you will not achieve anything by doing so. What is important is to practice the rules by doing questions based on the notes. You can rest assured that no professor would ask you to list out the rules during the exam – but applications of the rules forms the favorite questions of many a professors. They may also appear in the True / False statements but they can be attempted very well if the topic has been understood well by you.
  1. Understanding The Organic Reactions To Master Them. Organic reactions can only be mastered by understanding them. Every atom behaves in a reaction with a strong reason. It is therefore important to understand the reason behind every reaction. For example, in the case of Markovnikov’s rule , you may try to memorize it – you may also succeed in learning it by heart. However you will find it very difficult to retain it in the long run. However if you have learnt along with it with the reasoning for the stability of the carbocation, believe me you will hold it in your memory for a long long time.
  1. Master The Reactions By Practicing With Different Examples. My advice is to practice at least ten examples from each reaction in order to master it. For example consider the reaction for reduction of alkene by using a metal catalyst. If you practice 10 different examples of the reaction, the reaction will get engraved in your memory as a cis addition of Hydrogen on the double bond. Any time later when you come across this reaction, believe me, the reaction will snap back to you right away.
  1. Exceptions Or Awkward Behaviors In organic chemistry, like in every part of life, there are a few exceptions or awkward behaviors of some of the molecules.- Thank God there are only a handful of them. You will find every book provides a detailed explanation for their exceptional behavior. Just understand the reasoning behind it and the exception will no longer appear a exception to you.

In the end, I can sum up all my teaching experience in Organic Chemistry in a single sentence:


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