Using the ChemSkill Builder to Study for General Chemistry

Obtaining the program

For this course you will need a login ID to use the web-based Online Chem Skill Builder program. SkillBuilder assignments will count 5% of your grade, and will help you to master the material in this course.

Use of the program is fairly self-evident; just follow the directions you receive. You can access the program from any networked computer. When you register for this course, be sure to register for the correct section: the Class ID is 105, the Section ID is 2.

Using the program

The program is designed so that each student gets an individualized set of questions to answer, which means of course that you must do your own work. Furthermore, you may repeat a section if your score is not high enough (but you will get slightly different questions). Only the highest score is retained. The scores are saved on a server owned by the publisher, but I am able to access them. I will only give full credit for scores of at least 80% correct, and completed on time (see below). I will give partial credit for scores of 70-80% correct or slightly late.

In general, the due dates are the same as the regular homework at the time. It will be to your advantage to do them as closely as possible after the corresponding lecture, however. Assignments in parentheses will be optional, but they are listed so that if you want the practice you can do those.


Each section will count for a maximum of 10 points. Here is how I will record your grades, based on what you did:


score $80%

score $70%

on time



late but by next due date



score <70% or more than one collection period late: 0 points.

For example, letís say you complete the first sections as follows:

Section 1.2 2.1 2.4 2.2 2.3 2.5
Score 84% 71% 65% 75% 82% 85%
Date of transfer 8/29 8/29 8/29 9/5 9/5 9/14
Your grade 10 7 0 3 7 0

(Sections assigned between the last quiz of a unit and the exam such as 4.1 are due on the exam date. However, I do not collect the text homework for the corresponding lectures.)

You can see that this system emphasizes two things: keeping up with the work, and obtaining a certain minimum proficiency. These are issues that cause the downfall of many students in chemistry, so I am hoping that this system will provide the incentive to do the things needed to achieve good grades.

Note that you do not need to get all the questions right to get full credit. Thus, there is no need to repeat the section if your score is above 80% but less than 100%; you will still get the 10 points. There is nothing to lose from repeating any section for practice, however.

You will be able to see the grades I have assigned for each section you have completed by going to the appropriate link on the course web page (see syllabus), which will give you a spreadsheet where all the grades for the class are tabulated by the Skill Builder student login number.

How the Skill Builder electronic homework fits into other homework

In most cases, the questions from the "Skill Builder" constitute a base level of problem solving for the course. Actually the level expected for good grades in the course is somewhat higher, as is reflected in homework from the text. In the text assignments on the syllabus (under "Silberberg"), I have included some problems in parenthesis for extra practice. To grade the written homework, I will choose 3 problems from each set to grade. The problems I grade will come only from the problems not in parenthesis. Therefore, if you are pressed for time or feel you donít need the additional practice, you need not turn in the other questions.

Is it still a lot of work? Yes, chemistry is a lot of work. But you get good at chemistry, as with most things, by practicing it. It does pay off for most people.