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The Nernst equation is generally used to solve for the cell potential of a galvanic cell. If a problem gives standard cell potentials of half-reactions as well as any information that can be used to solve for Q (the reaction quotient), such as the concentration/pressure of reactants and products, then you should probably use the Nernst equation.
You use the Nerst equation to find cell potential () using the standard cell potential (), gas constant (), moles of electrons transferred (), Faraday's constant (), and the reaction quotient (). You just have to really read the question to determine what information you are given when determining whether to use the Nerst equation or not.
The Nernst equation is most often used to find the cell potential at a certain point during the reaction. The equation uses the standard cell potential and Q. If two out of these three variables (cell potential, standard cell potential, reaction quotient/concentrations) are given in a problem, I would use the Nernst equation to solve for the missing value.
In general, for any problem, I find it helpful to write out all the variables I am given and the variables I need to find. Then, I look at the equation sheet and try to find a way to get from A to B. This will work the same for the Nernst equation.
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