How to Remember Transition Metals


The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) defines a transition metal as "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." These are the elements contained in Periods 4,5,6 and 7, from Group 3 to Group 11. They do not include the elements in Group 12, although these behave like transition metals in some reactions. Studying the periodic table can be overwhelming. Make this task easier with some study strategies.

Things You'll Need

  • The Periodic Table of Elements
  • Dedicate quality time for studying the periodic table on a daily basis. Determine how much time you will take to study the transition metals and create a routine. Memorize new content every day, adding it to what you learned the day before. It is important to fully understand the topic. Read about the transition metal properties and compare them to the rest of the elements of the periodic table. A holistic understanding of the table will give you the basis for understanding each of its parts and subdivisions.

  • Use mnemonics when memorizing the names of the transition elements. Even though you understand the overall topic, retaining the names of the elements in your memory is not a logical task. Write down the symbols, starting with Period 4 and going to the right, that is, from Group 3 to Group 11. Make sentences with words that start with the first letter of every symbol. The sentences don't have to make any sense. Take the first row of transition elements as an example (Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu). Think of words that use the atomic symbols, such as "Scott Tips Very Crappy Money; Felipe Counts Nicaraguan Cucumbers."

  • Memorize the sentence by repeating it out loud with a certain rhythm. You can also create a catchy song. Start with one word and gradually add up the rest, one at a time, until you can say the whole sentence without looking at your notes. Repeat with all the periods containing the transition metals.

  • Visualize the the elements. Associate the elements with an object or image from your daily life that makes you think of each metal. You can make rhymes, too. For instance, Copper could be pictured as poker, Yttrium might be atrium, and so on.

  • Memorize in phases. Start with the names of the symbols, then progress to the actual order in the table. Associate every symbol with its name, without paying attention to its position within the table. Once you are able to recognize each symbol, memorize the order of the letters by repeating the initial of each symbol, following the correct order. Do it out loud and rhythmically. This way, you will be able to write down the letters in order and then remember which name corresponds to each letter.


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