For our first session together, my main focus was to get an idea for the student's pre-existing knowledge on chemistry, and identify some key topics that we will want to focus on in preparation for her placement exam. She admittedly doesn't remember much from high school chemistry, but is also being refreshed/ introduced to some concepts in her current biology class, so there will likely be some significant crossover. From the information she has about the test, the three main areas described are algebraic math skills, general chemistry knowledge, and specific chemistry knowledge. Our focus in our sessions will be primarily the general chemistry knowledge, and adding as much specific chemistry knowledge as we can along the way as a secondary goal. Since the student is planning to enter the 101 course, she should not be expected to have extensive specific knowledge going in, which is why I think it appropriate to focus on solidifying her general knowledge first. I believe her likelihood to pass the placement exam will be strongly dependent on her ability to supplement our sessions with further review/ practice between them to really cement the information. Obviously this will be a challenge while still taking other classes, but I made my opinion clear and hopefully it will be helpful. After discussing a couple sample problems, I decided to jump right in with some basic explanations of SI units, derived units, metric prefixes, and dimensional/ unit analysis as a tool for unit conversions and calculations. She seems very comfortable with the basic math and scientific notation involved, so I don't foresee many problems with these as long as she is able to remember a few basic conversions between base units. For the remainder of our session, I gave a brief intro/ review of atomic structure, isotopes, and ions, making sure to delineate the key properties of each subatomic particle and how the presence/ absence of each yields different variants. Our next session I plan to continue with a list of general chemical concepts, such as atomic masses, periodicity, chemical formulas, different categories of pure/ mixed substances, naming rules, and writing balanced equations.
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