How to Self Learn Chemistry: The Complete Guide

Chemistry is important in our daily life because everything around us is composed of atoms and molecules. It has helped in producing products that have transformed our lifestyle. Without chemistry, our lives would be drab and uninteresting. The subject is easy when you learn the right way.

You can self learn chemistry by reading a variety of chemistry books. The best chemistry books will help you understand the periodic table, chemical reactions, and chemical formulas. Additionally, you can learn the basic and advanced concepts of chemistry by taking online courses.

If you want to know how to self learn chemistry and the online resources for learning chemistry, read on. 

About Chemistry

Chemical elements are the primary building blocks in chemistry. They are substances composed of extremely small particles called atoms. The name of each chemical element is listed in the periodic table, with its atomic mass, atomic number, and symbol.

Chemical elements combine to form chemical compounds, and chemical compounds are substances composed of multiple elements, such as carbon dioxide. These chemical substances combine with other compounds to form other materials.

A lot of people think that chemistry is difficult to learn, and it’s true that it is probably not the easiest subject for most to learn. However, for some people it comes naturally and there are also ways to learn the topic that can make it more accessible.

Check out our article on this topic for more detail: Is Chemistry Hard To Learn?

Branches of Chemistry

There are five branches of chemistry:

  • Physical chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical chemistry

Physical Chemistry

Physical chemistry studies the physical nature of chemical compounds and molecules. It is used to develop personal care products, surfactants, plastics, and other advanced materials.

Organic Chemistry

Organic chemistry involves the study of properties, structure, and composition of substances that contain carbon. It is used in plastics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and other applications.

Inorganic Chemistry

Inorganic chemistry is the study of the behavior, properties, and structure of organometallic or inorganic substances (metals and minerals). Substances that have a metal-carbon bond are called organometallic substances. Inorganic chemistry is used in making a wide variety of products, including cleaning agents, fertilizers, and paints.

Analytical Chemistry

Analytical chemistry is the study of the structure and composition of man-made and natural materials. It is used in several areas of science. Analytical chemistry can be used to identify an unknown substance discovered at a crime location or determine how much cholesterol your blood contains.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in your body’s cells. It helps your body make important substances, such as vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), hormones, and digestive fluids.


Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes within living beings. Scientists have been able to map out the human genome due to biochemistry. Additionally, biochemistry also helped researchers understand what functions are performed by proteins in the body and discover treatments for several diseases.

What Do Chemists Do?

Chemists work in many fields, including environmental protection, quality control, production, and research and development. The career options are many. Chemists can work in a private company, for the government, or at a university.

Why Should You Learn Chemistry?

There are a number of reasons why you should learn chemistry.

  • Chemistry teaches you how to think logically and how to solve problems.
  • Basic knowledge of chemistry helps you understand and read product labels. Reading product labels is necessary to ensure that items do not contain unhealthy ingredients.
  • Chemistry helps you understand news about technological breakthroughs, environmental pollution, and product recalls.
  • A knowledge of chemistry can help keep you protected. You’ll know which household chemicals you can use safely and which are harmful to mix.

Brush Up Your Math Skills

You will need to solve many equations and formulas to learn chemistry. If you are not able to solve equations or logs, study some algebra problems. Reviewing algebra problems will help you solve similar problems in your chemistry lessons. 

Acquaint yourself with the following math concepts:

  • Scientific notation
  • Negative numbers
  • Fractions
  • Exponents
  • Writing and solving algebraic equations 
  • Logarithms

The Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide teaches you the fundamental tools and concepts of Algebra.

I would highly recommend checking it out here!

Learn the Core Concepts

Try to understand the atomic structure, chemical nomenclature, and metric system. If you do not completely understand these basic concepts before learning advanced concepts, you will find chemistry hard to learn.

  • You can learn the basic concepts of chemistry through university websites that offer free learning materials.
  • Take the help of guidebooks, such as “For Dummies” books and SparkNotes. You can find them at your local bookstore.
  • To learn and remember the concepts, write them by hand. According to studies, you’re more likely to remember the notes when you write by hand. 

Make Flashcards for a New Concept or Word

Make a flashcard for a new concept or word every time you learn. Flashcards are great for learning the periodic table and other principles. Chemistry is full of chemical formulas and symbols that you should learn and understand correctly. Flashcards help you learn these formulas and symbols easily and quickly. So, read the flashcards many times every week to remember the information.

Use Memory Improvement Techniques

Think of each element as a different symbol, such as mango or guava. You will be able to remember information easily by creating strong connections. Memory improvement techniques help you remember information better. In fact, they can help form long-term memories.

For more tips on memory improvement and other ways to help yourself to learn, check out our Ultimate Guide To Self Learning.

Think Three-Dimensionally

Try to picture any molecular structure in 3D. ChemTube 3D, an online resource run by the University of Liverpool, has free interactive structures and animations for several chemistry concepts. 

It provides you with 3D structures for several important compounds encountered in organic chemistry. In addition to organic reactions, you can learn about molecular vibrations, solid-state structures, and polymers.

Read Chemistry Books

There are a variety of books available online that can help you understand chemistry. Some are able to bring the topic to life in a unique way and others are Textbooks that can be a great way to learn the fundamentals.

Also read our guide: How To Teach Yourself With A Textbook

Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe 

This book contains interesting facts and beautiful pictures. The book teaches you about the chemical elements that form our universe. In fact, it presents a comprehensive representation of every atom in our universe. The book also includes interesting stories of the elements and more detailed information on the element’s properties. 

You can check it out here!

Chemistry for Everyone: A Helpful Primer for High School or College Chemistry 

If you need help understanding the most difficult chemistry concepts that will be encountered in college or high school level chemistry, this book is for you. Some of the topics you will learn in this book are solubility, chemical reactions, bonding, unit conversions, and the mole.  

Other than that, the book also includes tips for doing homework and advice on how to solve problems. The text of the book is easy to follow. 

I would highly recommend checking it out here!

Chemistry: Concepts and Problems: A Self-Teaching Guide 

This book covers the main concepts and key terms and definitions of this fundamental science. It features study problems, practice questions, and learning objectives. What’s more, there is a self-review test in each chapter to strengthen your learning.

The book contains concise chapters that explain essential chemistry terms and concepts, such as liquids, solids, gases, chemical bonding, atomic weights, and the periodic table. It features an emphasis on clear explanations and practical concepts to ensure that you understand the topics fast.

A great read! Check it out here!

Chemistry for Dummies 

This book teaches you the basics of acids and bases, atoms and molecules, and matter and energy. In addition to this, you will learn about thermochemistry basics, ways to use the periodic table, useful tips for solving problems, and more. All in all, this book makes learning chemistry easy and interesting.

I would highly recommend checking it out here!

Clayden’s Organic Chemistry

This book helps you gain a logical understanding of vital concepts. It offers explanations on topics such as conformational analysis, stereochemistry, and organic structure. It explains each concept with concrete evidence and discloses why some compounds undergo certain reactions and how these reactions happen.

Excellent read! Check it out here!

Focus On High School Chemistry

In this book, you will learn about basic reactions, chemical bonding, matter, and acid/base reactions. Apart from this, the book explains chemistry experiments step by step that you can perform at your home. 

The book also explains biochemical systems, polymers, concepts behind mixtures, and organic chemistry. Above all, it presents information in a reader-friendly and clear fashion.

A little bit more expensive, but great value! Check it out here.

A Self-Study Guide to the Principles of Organic Chemistry

This book will help you understand the fundamental concepts of organic chemistry easily. Additionally, it will also help you build a solid base for future study. Some of the topics included are organic spectroscopy, stereochemistry, mechanisms of polar reactions, bonding, and electronic configuration. You will also learn organic polymers, biomolecules, aromatic reactions, aromaticity, and hydrocarbons.

The book contains more than 100 charts and diagrams that help you understand various chemical processes. These diagrams also help you understand the logic of the subject clearly. Each chapter in the book has extra practice problems and questions at the end, which you can solve to ensure you completely understand the topics covered.

Great read. Definitely check it out here! 

Use Online Resources

Here are some of the websites you can use to learn chemistry (and here’s our guide to the best websites for self learning):


Skillshare has a few chemistry courses that can help you learn about the fundamentals of chemistry. All of their chemistry lessons are taught through videos, so you can access them from any internet-enabled device and watch the videos at your convenience.


Chemistry lessons on this site focus on various fields of chemistry, such as organic chemistry and biochemistry. These lessons will be able to teach you all about the fundamentals of specific branches of chemistry.

The site has courses on atmospheric and environmental chemistry that can help you learn about the chemistry of earth and its environment. 


Coursera has a variety of chemistry courses for advanced chemists, intermediates, and beginners. These courses are easy to follow and well explained. In fact, they are designed by the top institutes from around the world. 

These courses can help you understand the basic concepts of the periodic table and chemical reactions. In addition to this, they can help you understand how to solve quantitative problems.


edX is a learning platform that offers online courses from the world’s top educational institutes, such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It offers chemistry courses to help you learn about fundamental concepts of chemistry in an interactive online learning environment. These courses also contain quizzes and video tutorials.

Furthermore, the online learning platform offers you the choice to pursue verified certificates in chemistry courses. You can upload the certificate to your LinkedIn profile. The certificate contains edX and the name of the institute. 

The Chemistry of Life course from edX teaches you how to come up with novel ideas for business and research and how to write and read chemical structures. What’s more, you can study chemical formulas, problem-solving techniques, and the atomic theory in your online class.

edX also offers a course that takes a look at the molecular basis of drug discovery. You will learn how a molecule with desired biological activity is discovered, and the approaches scientists take to optimize this molecule into a safe drug.


Chemistry plays a vital role in the development of our society and making our lives better. Without chemistry, there would be no lights, synthetic fibers, cars, and laptops and many other products necessary for modern living.

Chemistry is an essential part of our everyday lives, and we all should know its basics. You can easily learn the key concepts of chemistry online. Chemistry is great for developing reasoning skills as well as problem-solving skills. 

Reading chemistry books and taking online courses are simply the best ways to learn the subject on your own. Plus, you need to hone your math skills to learn the subject effectively.


5 thoughts on “How to Self Learn Chemistry: The Complete Guide”

  1. Ibrahim Aliyu Mallam

    This is so great! I am a student trying to learn chemistry through self-learning and visiting your website has helped me so great. I wish you the best.

  2. I find this piece very interesting and will like to get more update. I am a beginner that wants to learn more. Thanks

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