Making maths in physical chemistry less scary

Once students arrive at the physical chemistry topics of the Chemistry for GAMSAT course, they are confronted with a subset of mathematical skills that are required.

The maths is quite straight forward believe it or not, but the big equations and the use of logarithms can make these questions seem more difficult, and let’s face it, sometimes kinda scary!

Fear not, it takes a little practice but the more you see and use your basic math skills with these equations, the less scary they become, until you’re laughing in the face of huge equations!

The following set of videos cover the following mathematical techniques:

  • Rearranging equations involving logs
  • Using simultaneous equations to find values for more than one unknown
  • “Linearising” an equation (ready for graphing, or just to simplify)

The idea of this post is to remove some of the “scary factor” when you see complex equations, and to help you become more familiar with, and learn how to manipulate them.

All the videos are around 3 minutes long. If you don’t understand the rearragements or log rules, you should consult the other maths for Chemistry resources on this blog, such as “Logs in less than 5 minutes“.

Resource 1: Logarithms in Chemical calculations

The following resource explains the maths used when manipulating some common physical chemistry equations.

  • Nernst Equation: The use of log to base 10 and the natural log (ln) in the Nernst equation is shown, and how the equation can be rearranged to be able to plot on a straight line graph.
  • Gibbs Free energy related to the Equilibrium Constant: How to rearrange the equation ΔG = RTlnK to solve for using log rules
  • Clausius-Clapeyron Equation (relating vapour pressure to temperature): Another example of how to rearrange an equation involving log rules.

Resource 2: Simultaneous Equations and the Arrhenius Equation

This video is concerned with the Arrhenius equation (relates the rate constant k to the temperature). It summarises the following:

  • Rearranging the Arrhenius equation into a “linear” form
  • Using simultaneous equations to solve for more than one unknown

Resource 3: Simultaneous Equations and Thermodynamic Expressions

More practice at using simultaneous equations and rearranging equations with logs in them.

I hope these resources help you feel more at ease with some scary looking equations.

For more information about cbsquared GAMSAT preparation courses, please visit:

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