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For cell diagrams, theoretically I know that the reaction on the right is the cathode only if the cell potential is positive but for the purposes of the class, if the cell potential is not given then should one assume the cathode is the reaction on the right?
If the cell potential is not given, then assume the right is the cathode and the left is the anode. You might have to look up the cell potentials and add them up to give a positive standard cell potential to determine the anode and cathode.
If cell potential is not given, the oxidation half-reaction should be on the left/anode, while the reduction half-reaction should be on the right/cathode. You should look at how electrons are transferred to verify though.
I encountered a question once where the cathode was on the left and the anode was on the right, opposite of the convention of typical cell diagrams. So while it's generally a safe assumption that the cathode is on the right and the anode is on the left, I would still verify this by checking where the electrons are going.
Usually, when working with shorthand notation of the line cell diagrams, we would assume the anode reaction is on the left, while the cathode is on the right. It's easier to understand if you look at the flow from the anode to the cathode through the salt bridge.
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