How to Prepare for Chemistry Lab

Chemistry Pre-Lab

Here's a girl, around age 12, doing a chemistry experiment.
Chemistry lab will be safer and more rewarding if you are thorough about pre-lab preparations. B2M Productions, Getty Images

Chemistry lab is a required component of most chemistry courses. Learning about lab procedures and performing experiments helps you to learn techniques and reinforces textbook concepts. Make the most of your time in the lab by coming to lab prepared. Review these pre-lab tips before starting an experiment.

  • Complete any pre-lab assignments or homework. The information and calculations are intended to make the lab exercise quicker and easier.
  • Know the location of the lab safety equipment and understand how to use it. In particular, know the location of the emergency exit, fire extinguisher, eye wash station and safety shower.
  • Read through the experiment before going to the lab. Make sure you understand the steps of the experiment. Jot down any questions you have so that you can ask them before starting lab.
  • Start filling out your lab book with information about the experiment. It's a good idea to draw out your data table in advance so all you need to do in lab is fill it in with numbers.
  • Review the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) of the chemicals you will be using during lab.
  • Make certain you have all of the glassware, materials, and chemicals needed to complete the lab before starting any part of the procedure.
  • Understand disposal procedures for the chemicals and other items used in your experiment. If you are unclear about what to do with your experiment after it has been completed, ask your instructor about it. Don't throw items in the trash or dump liquids down the drain or in waste disposal containers until you are certain it is acceptable to do so.
  • Be prepared to take data in the lab. Bring your notebook, a pen, and a calculator.
  • Have personal safety gear, such as a lab coat and goggles, clean and ready to use before lab.

Chemistry Lab Resources

How To Keep a Lab Notebook
How To Write a Lab Report
Lab Report Template
Lab Safety Signs
Lab Safety Rules
Lab Safety Quiz