Ultimate student guide for learning the periodic table

Imagine going to a supermarket with no separate departments for different items like groceries, clothes, and toys. Not even racks that place the items based on different sub-items like sugar, fruits, cereals, etc. Doesn’t that feel unorganized and messy?

The different elements of chemistry were somewhat like that until Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev created a periodic table in 1871. It was the first successful attempt at organizing the different elements into a usable table. This scientific table has been revised several times until what we use today.

What is a periodic table?

The periodic table is tabular segregation of 118 known elements in nature, both natural and man-made. Each box represents an element and consists of the following:

  • Symbol of the element. For, e.g., H for Hydrogen, Ag for Silver
  • The atomic number of the element
  • Its common name
  • Its atomic Weight

Why is the periodic table important?

The periodic table is a universally recognized format for the grouping of elements. It is a language chemists speak all over. But for students and parents it is critical to note that one needs to be more focused on learning how and why the periodic table is put together as it is, rather than simply learn the elements’ order off by heart.

Once you understand that the elements are arranged in the table in a specific grouped format, it can use this knowledge in so many different ways in your life. The first one being that it helps in observing how the different elements react based on the grouping in different rows and columns.

While it may look somewhat complex at first, it is one of the easiest ways to learn about the different elements. In advanced chemistry classes, knowledge of the periodic table would save any student a lot of time. In fact, even if you know how to study it correctly, you can benefit from it.

For Example: For students trying to build a career in the field of chemistry need to know the symbols of common elements and more importantly, they need to know what an element’s location tells them about its properties. The table is useful for scientists because it helps predict the types of chemical reactions that a particular element is likely to participate in.

As per UK Year 8 chemistry c, students learn a variety of topics including the periodic table which is treated as a core topic. Year 8 students in UK schools, not only face questions related to periodic tabel in formal topic tests approximately one every half term but they also need to learn these chemicals & their properties for their one KS3 exam, which will take place in the summer term. So it is a good idea to get a chemistry tutor onboard to help you master the periodic table.

If you are looking for some best universities for studying chemistry then University of Toronto, Canada is ranked #16 by US news as Best Global Universities for Chemistry in Canada.

How to use the periodic table?

There are two main things to note when you want to use the periodic table effectively:

  1. Things that comprise the periodic table & their inter-relationships
  2.  Creative ways to understanding & memorizing the periodic table

Components of the periodic table:

Rows: The elements are arranged in different rows with different numbers of elements. All the rows have elements with an ascending atomic number. Each element is followed by an element with one additional atomic number. This series can be noted from the top-left element to the bottom-right element.

Columns: The different columns usually hold elements of similar physical and chemical properties. They can be mostly grouped into halogens, noble gases, alkaline earth elements, etc.

Box 3 in the 6th & 7th row: The 6th and the 7th row in the original periodic table by Dmitri were intentionally left blank. This was to make space for the unfound elements. Surely enough, some elements were later found and arranged. But, since there were 15 elements in each box, separate rows were created for them. Therefore, although they are a part of the 6th and 7th groups, respectively, they are shown separately.

Techniques to memorize the periodic table:

Test yourself for understanding not for learning elements by rote 

Read the periodic table for the sequences, groups and understand why they belong there. Try to read and memorise the order of elements in specific groups. Take a break, and then see how many elements from specific groups you can remember. While learning, if you try to turn this into a game and ask your friends to be a part of it, this can get more interesting. For example, which element comes after Argon or has the atomic number of 13.

Use flashcards

You can make flashcards to remember parts of the table. For example, you can make a flashcard for each of the different elements. You can name the element on one side, while on the other side, you can put up further details like their symbol, atomic mass, and no.

Solve problems using a periodic table

Try to use a periodic table each time you need to solve a chemistry problem. You may need to refer to it less with time as you would begin to remember it in great detail.

Find a periodic table song. Just like this


You can find a number of periodic table songs online. In fact, you can create one yourself. Music is an easier way to remember something. No wonder we remember song lyrics so well!

Use mnemonics

Mnemonics is one of the most fun ways to memorize the periodic table. You can come up with any meaningful or even funny sentence using the acronyms of the symbols or names of the elements. Here is an illustration:

Periodic Table

Seek help from an online chemistry tutor

Different students learn differently. And the periodic table and its ways of learning may seem confusing to many students. So, it is a good idea to have someone else explain it to you. For example, an online chemistry tutor can easily remember by following unique methods. Your tutor can also provide you with downloadable sheets and other resources to memorize the table.

Besides, they can also help you learn how to effectively use the table, solve chemistry problems, and prepare for your exam.

You can find a chemistry tutor at TutorEye to learn from 24/7.

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