Is General Chemistry at Rutgers Hard?

Earlier this week, I published a post seeking suggestions for future topics I could write about. (That form still works if you’d like to submit something!) One reader referenced my post from last week (A Rutgers Package Delivery… Gone Seriously Wrong) where I talk about my mishap that resulted in me carrying a GIANT BOX OF TOILETRIES to Chem Lab….. oops!

In response to a new request, I’m going to discuss more about Chem Lab and General Chemistry at Rutgers. This semester, I’m currently enrolled in two courses: General Chemistry 161 and Intro to Experimentation 171 (AKA Chem Lab).

Gen chem is hard. That’s for sure. The average on the first exam was a 65.6%…. But as hard as it is, I think it may actually be my favorite class this semester. It’s a lot of work but I find the periodic table so interesting! I love the theory that’s involved and I’m grasping the concepts that we’ve gone over so far. It’s fun!

My favorite was last week when we were learning about atomic shapes. It was like I was in a cartoon. I felt like I was designing Pokemon creatures or something.

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The one downside (if you count it as one) are the online recitations. Because SO MANY PEOPLE take gen chem, Rutgers decided to make chem recitations online starting last year. I didn’t like it at first because people always use the chat box to post such foolish comments. Plus, the system crashed a lot but it’s getting better.

The comments speak for themselves.

In fact, I think I like online recitations better now because you can attend recitation every day of the week if you want and re-take the quiz each day and only your highest score counts. Plus, you don’t have to be embarrassed to ask questions!

People find the actual lectures kind of useless but I personally enjoy them! I read before class so I know what’s going to be discussed and then I go to class, listen, and take notes on anything extra that I think I need to review.

Photo Oct 13, 6 38 38 PM
and sometimes i bring dinner

Chem Lab is also fun. It’s 3 hours long and most of the labs take around 2.5 of those 3 hours. You can leave early if you finish early.

My favorite lab so far was the Paper Chromatography lab where we made pieces of paper turn different colors. Of course, it was more complex than that but I don’t want to give away too much in case you happen to be planning on taking the class.

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It’s a little competitive since only 2 to 3 students per section get an A but the experiments themselves can be fun if you let them be. Be friendly to your classmates and remember that if it weren’t for Chem Lab, you likely wouldn’t have any reason to be dropping metal ribbons into burets filled with hydrochloric acid and watching as they react and form bubbles.

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This was taken during my lab today! My beaker was stolen so I had to pay to replace it. 🙁 Like I said, it’s competitive.

ALSO BE CAREFUL NEVER TO TOUCH ANYTHING BAD. I’m not sure if the soap will remove chemicals from your hands or add them…

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If you’ve taken science classes, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below!


  1. rebeccarice93

    You must be very brave to say that Chem is your favorite class this semester! The way you talk about it shows that you are actually really interested in the subject. Keep up the good work and I hope that by the end of the semester you are still able to say you enjoy this class.

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  5. Hopefully Gen Chem will be my favorite class too! Do you have any suggestions on how to study for the tests? I saw your post on studying for Gen. Bio at Rutgers, which helped a lot, but does creating organizers help for Gen Chemistry or not really?

  6. Hopefully Gen. Chem becomes my favorite class too! Do you have any suggesions on how to study for the tests? I saw your other post on how to study for Gen. Bio, which really helped, but does making organizers for Gen. Chem help or not really?

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    1. Yes, it is definitely difficult to get an A in general chemistry at Rutgers. Even if you have a background in it (which is more than I had) I think it will still be a challenge at the very least because the exams try to trick you with small things like decimal placement and similar answers where one is wrong because of some small detail that you might not catch. The curve is very decent (no proof but I suspect it’s normally between 5-10 points) and the online quizzes can be retaken every day of the week but you must consider that in order to retake a quiz you must sit through a 1 hour recitation, with classes you may not have time to attend everyday, and they are timed so if you must finish all of the questions in like 10 minutes. I would not recommend taking the class unless you’re up for a challenge. I liked chemistry but it did not do my GPA any favors. Having said that, I do not regret taking the class for fun.

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