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Organic Chemistry has violated me countless times

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Ottovon, Sep 14, 2010.

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  1. Ottovon

    Ottovon

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    I'm in week 2 of Organic Chemistry and I'm feeling SO discouraged. I was really good at Chemistry (and I know that Orgo and Chem don't really relate) so I was hoping Orgo would be interesting since I like theory, but it's not working out so well. It SERIOUSLY freaks me out. I can't make Friday night plans without thinking how far I am in my Orgo reading :(.

    How does one study for Organic Chemistry? Please don't say memorization (I've seen this answer a lot of times on StudentDoc) because my professor believes in application of the material rather than giving us basic-testing concept problems. I have seen on this forum that "Organic Chemistry for Dummies" is a really useful book and I might get it. How much does it really help?

    How many hours a day did you study or Orgo/O-chem? I'm trying to dedicate everyday to studying it but it takes a long time to read so I end up not getting much done. I try to absorb the information, go back, review, etc.

    My life has really been taken over by this class and Biology. I'm just feeling really discouraged.

    HELP PLEASE. Anyone who survived this.....THING....share your wisdom! (I'm....serious......>=( ). Thanks!
  2. Poliscidoc

    Poliscidoc

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    Lol organic is that rough? Lube up and get ready for the long ride.
  3. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    Apply your chem background... figure out the concepts and how they relate back to gen chem. For a book, Organic Chemistry as a Second Language is typically the one most highly recommended. Honestly, though, O-Chem is really just the chemistry of carbon. All the basic gen chem concepts still apply. If you think of everything in terms of acid/base chemistry at first, that may give you something work off as well.

    As for the amount of time I studied, I'd estimate it was probably 1-3 hrs/wk most weeks. Some people need a lot more, a few may need less.
  4. Gloves

    Gloves

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    I read the book. over and over :scared:

    ...and over
  5. Ottovon

    Ottovon

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    Yup...I'm in the same boat as you. Read Chapter 1 three times, currently reading Chapter 2 and will skim the portion I read. Also, I can apply the Chemistry knowledge and it does help, I just find that most of the times I am lost in what's going on. It really frustrates me that I don't have the "Oh, I get it!" moments like I did in Chemistry last year.

    Re-reading did help...it's just so...time consuming. Orgo makes 24 hours in a day feel so little.


    I really don't mean to complain, I'm just looking for help from people who took it and did well. Does it come 'naturally' or did grinding hard hours with your textbook really do the trick?
  6. Fort

    Fort

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    Organic chem violated me when I broke a round bottom flask and cut my hand! There was blood spewing everywhere...it was that moment I realized I wanted to be a doctor.

    But seriously you have to understand the basics to do well in the class, you can't just straight up rote memorize everything and expect to do well. Out of the 100 or so reactions you'll learn you may only need to memorize a handful.

    Cheers.
  7. hiyaman

    hiyaman under the bad sun

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    Reading for organic chemistry is important, but more important is practicing the concepts that you learn.

    Without practice it's always going to be tough and not enjoyable.

    Since you're only 2 weeks in you are probably learning the relationship between acidity and structure? alkanes? nomenclature? reviewed g-chem concepts such as orbital theory?

    You have to apply what you learn to hw problems. work problems and you will remember concepts better, trust me, I didn't work problems for my first ochem midterm and I got ****ed. You gotta do problems.

    The most important concepts for ochem are learned in the first quarter/semester of ochem. Make you sure you learn them well so that ochem II or whatever is easier.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  8. IfeelYourPain

    IfeelYourPain

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    Reading the book for O-chem is a waste of time (just as it is for gen chem). Practice writing out the reaction mechanisms (I used a dry-erase board). Understand the differences between Sn1, Sn2, E1, and E2 rxns and you should be fine.
  9. Ottovon

    Ottovon

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    Yeah, the first chapter was reviewing Chem 2 stuff (orbitals, the like) which was fine until my professor began doing antibonding orbitals and bonding orbital stuff. Granted, I understood that concept while doing practice problems. But now we're on to sp/sp2/sp3 hybridization and drawing pi-bond structures.

    Practice is key, yes?
  10. chiapet874

    chiapet874

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    I dunno why ppl have such a hard time with orgo... It was by far the easiest subject for me to handle >_>

    The key is the understand the basics, once you get those down, everything will be a breeze.
  11. chiapet874

    chiapet874

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    Also: do hw problems. Orgo is not a class where you can just "memorize" stuff, you really have to UNDERSTAND the concepts. But again, as I said before, those concepts are very very basic. No matter how far you progress into orgo, you are just using the same concepts over and over again.

    I guess ppl have trouble cause they are so used to memorizing facts; orgo is a logic game.
  12. hiyaman

    hiyaman under the bad sun

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    :thumbup: There have been countless times where I was looking at a reaction and just using the basic concepts I learned in class to fill out the mechanism.

    Compared to someone who just memorizes, if your professor is a hard ass and decides to throw you different reactions that utilize a common concept or whatever, then a memorizer might be screwed.

    Ottovon if you keep having trouble with orbitals and stuff even after you review and do problems, you should ask your prof for clarification or seek help from peer tutoring or some sort.
  13. metallica81788

    metallica81788 Keeper of the Llamaworm Moderator Emeritus

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    You could just not care and get a B while slaughtering all your other classes. That works quite well.

    I had probably the best year of my life while in Orgo and nothing but science classes even though they sucked.

    You can do it.
  14. Tuan

    Tuan

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    Pull through it! You'll look back and realize it was all easier than you think. :D
    .....(from an Ochem TA) :sleep:
  15. Prof Chaos

    Prof Chaos

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    Do tons and tons of practice problems. If your textbook has end of chapter summaries and questions, do as many as you can, and then get the solutions manual and go through each problem after you do it to make sure you understand everything. You don't have to memorize the textbook before you do problems, just do a quick read through, and then when you get stuck on a problem go back to the pertinent section and try to figure it out before looking at the solution.

    By doing all those practice problems your brain will begin to recognize patterns and before you know it you will have an intuitive understanding of organic chemistry. then when you read the book or attend lecture you will actually understand what is going on and learn the finer details that way.
  16. Prof Chaos

    Prof Chaos

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    HA. I wish my Ochem class had been one where minimal effort earned you a B. It took three times as much studying than I've done for any other class just to get to a B, and only a few got As. One of my professors once told us that it was the most failed class at our school, and in any first semester orgo class about 25-30% were retaking it. Granted, because they pushed us so hard the average was a 95% when we all took the ACS orgo test at the end of semester 2.
  17. yohji

    yohji

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    read ahead
    do TONS of problems
    go to office hours
    clarify anything that doesn't make sense
    take good notes during lecture and review them on a regular basis

    read the material at least once but don't get too hung up on reading. make sure you are putting enough time into doing every single practice problem.

    i think it's normal to struggle with ochem initially. i was definitely confused 2 weeks into the class and throughout most of the first quarter. it's very much like learning a new language. just make sure you build a good foundation - otherwise it will bite you in the ass later. don't gloss over mechanisms. draw it out. make sure it makes sense. Most reactions end up being some variation of SN1, SN2, E1, E2. make sure you understand acidity, basicity, stability, and resonance...all super duper important. good luck! be persistent. it gets better imo. :luck:
  18. Zoom-Zoom

    Zoom-Zoom

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    Totally key. As others have said, I can't stress enough the importance of practice problems. I developed a habit of kind of saying to myelf "CH3, CH2..." etc as I drew structures, and one time I actually woke up from a dream saying, "CH3, CH2, CH2." :rolleyes:

    What you're doing right now is conceptual. So focus on understanding. You probably won't even know what a "mechanism" is for a while. The concepts will remain but later it'll also be just as much about memorization. So I've got to disagree with the others here. I made tons of flashcards for all the types of random reactions, and cards for the generic ones. You have to be able to go forward and backward through the reactions in your head. So i'd have a product on one side and the reactant on the other.

    When you know everything cold, mechanisms become easy because all you have to do is piece them together. And I think it's the only possible way to "conceptualize" a mechanism that requires 5 or 6 mystery steps to get from reactant to product. It's a very creative type of problem solving, but also very fact based. Come to think of it, going through path in med school is the closest I've come yet to the type of thinking/studying I did in O. Chem.

    I took O. Chem over the summer with a crazy amount of lab work during the week, so I was mostly studying on weekends, all weekend...I'd say about 20-30 hours per exam (per weekend), but maybe I also read during the week...so it could have been more hours. I'm sure during the year there are students who do much more. So a lot of study hours is the norm. But it can still be (kinda) fun.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
    jb94mg likes this.
  19. orgohacks

    orgohacks Organic chemist

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    If you're feeling really discouraged, maybe focus on some quick wins first.

    Quick wins = fast things you can memorize NOW that will pay huge dividends later on in the course.
    This is a tactic to just get your feet moving, then you can start worrying about the big stuff, like what's in "Organic Chemistry as a Second Language". There's a lot of big stuff, but you need to use the time at the beginning to get the small stuff down. Baby steps first.
    Here's some ideas for getting started, things that are within your control to do.

    1. Names of functional groups, for instance. There's about 16. Get their names down. Be able to write them from memory, lone pairs included. When I say "hydroxyl" you should immediately be able to picture an OH group. This is straight memorization. You'll use this for nomenclature at first, but it will become increasingly important as you get into reactions.

    2. Electronegativities. This is key. Get the order straight, because electronegativity plays a huge role in all the chemistry you're going to learn. A workable mnemonic is the following: F,O,N (Phone) Cl (call), Br (be right back), C, S, I (CSI is on), P, H (please hold).
    Look at your functional group table. Using electronegativities, which bonds are polarized? Which atoms are going to be partially positive and which will be partially negative? This is a BIG DEAL, this determines the behavior of these groups - their acidity, basicity, nucleophilicity and electrophilicity (worry about those two terms later).
    Chemistry is all about negative charge going to positive charge. Nucleophile attacks electrophile. You'll learn about this later.
    3. Look at your pKa table. Get the order straight. Strong acids have weak conjugate bases. Those weak conjugate bases iodide, bromide, chloride, sulfate, etc. - pay attention, they're going to come up soon as "leaving groups" in a number of reactions.
    Again with your functional group table, you should be able to put the following acidities in order: amine, carboxylic acid, alcohol (or water), alkyne C-H, alkane. Maybe thiol if you're feeling frisky. These are the basics, you can elaborate later. But pKa plays a huge role in reactivity.

    4. Terms. Go through chapter 1 and 2 of your textbook, look at the vocabulary at the end. You should know those terms from memory. Not verbatim, but be able to explain to someone what they are. Enlist your roommate or something. Involve someone else in your studying if at all possible. Your parents probably would love to hear from you, try explaining these concepts to them. ;)

    5. Orbitals. Sigma bonding, pi bonding, s and p orbitals - learn them, know them, tattoo them on you somewhere. I plug Steven's videos all the time even though he has no idea who I am - here's one specific to hybridization - http://is.gd/fbBWk . His full website is http://www.freelance-teacher.com/videos.htm. 30 minutes on the hybridization/bonding videos should get you cleared up, they are crystal.

    6. Solidify your knowledge and find the gaps by doing problems.

    7. Double down for now. Focus on these things, they are the foundation that the later parts of the course will build on. This is big-boy time. Memorization of the things at the *beginning* part of the course is OK, people screw up when they try to memorize things near the end - all the reactions, for instance. That's when books like Klein's come in handy.
    It is like a language. What you're learning right now is vocab, the grammar comes later. Whatever way you can find to memorize - flashcards, writing things out, whatever - use it. You can make quizzes for free on memorize.com and quizlet. Give these a shot, they're useful. You'll even find people who made these quizzes themselves.

    Hope this helped. Best of luck - James
  20. Hejman

    Hejman

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    Its just like any other class. Don't let people psych you out. Just study, practice and go to office hours. If that isn't enough, throw in some more practice. You should be able to secure an A with that much effort.
  21. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod

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    Organic will violate you one last time when you get to med school biochem an discover that you only actually use about 2-3 weeks of the year's worth of material required in the pre-reqs.
  22. Hejman

    Hejman

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    Thats a good thing, right? Who likes that stuff anyway? That's why I am not going to Grad school (to become a chemist) or Pharmacy school.
  23. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod

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    Mixed blessing, I suppose. You'll never have to see that god-awful BS again, but you also spent 2 semesters "learning" it.
  24. Shaptown

    Shaptown Bringer of Doom

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    Best advice in the thread. I agree with chiapet as well. Organic Chem is really VERY easy once you have the fundamentals down. The key is simply this: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE PRINCIPLES LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. If neglect ochem at any point during the class, you will likely be swept away by a strong current as it builds and builds and builds upon itself (albeit not too quickly). Honestly, most individuals I know, had a MUCH more difficult time with biochem than ochem. Myself, I didn't think any were THAT difficult, but PChem really was just disgusting in every regard; and why I needed that class for a B.S. in Molecular Genetics is quite honestly beyond me.... :confused:
  25. gravitywave

    gravitywave fourth year

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    these here. :thumbup:

    less reading, more practice problems. get a dry-erase board or a legal pad and draw the little ****ers out til you see 'em spinning in your sleep.
  26. KingMilano

    KingMilano

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    I agree completely with the statement above. I read about 3 pages from my orgo book and decided it was a waste of time, instead I just read from my berkley review orgo book which is MUCH BETTER clear and concise none of that fluff crap about anecdotes.

    I'm in the same boat as you (3rd week of orgo) and honestly, atm it doesn't seem bad at all (week just started carbon rings and polymers) the only thing that is a pain is not being used to visualizing things in 3d, all the different planes for pi-bonds and resonance is a pain.

    tl;dr buy the TBR orgo book and burn your textbook
  27. PreMedder

    PreMedder

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    Probably the first thing to do is stop freaking out and putting orgo on the pedestal. Think about it as just another class. It's not some extraordinarily difficult class that only few can master. If you think about it like this, you're just going to psych yourself out like you're already doing.

    With that said, it's only the 2nd week. You SHOULD know hybridization down pat. I'm taking orgo now as well, and I pre-read Organic Chem as a Second Language by Klein (yes, the entire book). And I can honestly say that it was extremely helpful. I don't have to worry about hybridization, orbitals, bond-line drawings, resonance, etc. bc I already know how to do it since I read it all already. SO much better.
  28. impulse

    impulse

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    1) Stop freaking yourself out: lose the anxiety, get to work and you'll learn stuff.

    2) Do practice problems

    3) **** like molecular orbitals and antibonding orbitals really doesn't matter. You brush upon it marginally latter on in the class, but completely understanding the quantum theory really doesn't help much so don't sweat it. Things like hybridization may seem confusing at first, but as with any new class, you will become more comfortable with it as you apply the concepts and become more familiar with the topic.

    4) Let go on Friday nights, cut loose so you're ready for the grind the next week!
  29. orgohacks

    orgohacks Organic chemist

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    I'm sorry but a lot of the advice in this thread makes me want to douse myself in benzene and light myself on fire. WHAT concepts. WHAT fundamentals. WHAT practice problems. WHAT basics. That's the real question. SPECIFICALLY, what are the most important things to study? I don't have all the answers, but I'm working like hell to solve this, because I'm so f**ing tired of reading advice like "oh, just do all the practice problems and study 4 hours a night, it worked for me".
  30. wlee43

    wlee43

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    You think bonding is bad? My prof barely went over it and now we're doing spectrometry:scared:
  31. roseglass6370

    roseglass6370 Are we there yet?

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    For all those who say that reading the book is useless for chem classes: Everyone learns differently.

    Reading my gen chem text is literally what got me through the 3 quarters I took of it! Reading my o-chem book is currently carrying me through the class right now!

    For some, working problems is the only way to go. For others, we need our textbooks to supplement those problems.

    OP, take all of the advice you've been given here (INVALUABLE STUFF!!) and use what works for you. If the text helps, by all means, devour it! If doing problems is what does it for you - go nuts!

    Best of luck!! YOU CAN DO IT!! :D :thumbup:
  32. roseglass6370

    roseglass6370 Are we there yet?

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    Orgo, I thought you're advice was by far the best on here and I am actually using your pneumonic myself! I wrote it down in my textbook just now. :p

    I think the other responders were just trying to give general advice to the OP that he/she can use throughout the rest of the class. If you aren't doing practice problems and don't understand the early chapters of the text (the "fundamentals") you're really going to struggle with the reactions and mechanisms later.
  33. Electronegative

    Electronegative

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  34. wlee43

    wlee43

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    Orgo as a second language makes everything seem easy. I highly recommend it. The textbook is cluttered with alot of information that's not going to be on tests so it's a big waste of time to read it over and over
  35. hiyaman

    hiyaman under the bad sun

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    Lol, that sucks. At my school the only majors that required pchem were chem and chem eng. majors.

    Do you even use anything you learned in pchem? I mean Thermo is pretty interesting and useful to learn, but stuff like Stat mech, quantum mech >.>
  36. hiyaman

    hiyaman under the bad sun

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    wait till you start doing synthesis problems, those are fun imo best part of taking ochem.

    There's no feeling like the one you get when your looking at a reactant and arrow to product and it looks hard, but you start drawing some stuff out doing some stuff, you get stuck on the last step and boom it comes to you like out of thin air...:love:
  37. Ottovon

    Ottovon

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    Thanks soo much. And thank you everyone! I'm going to focus on problems and I'm meeting with one of the TA's tomorrow to go over problems and fill in the gaps I don't understand.


    I really have been affected by all the rumors I've heard about Orgo from the past few years. And I'm so psyched about it and so afraid and I view it as some unconquerable thing. It's impeding to have that kind of perception.
  38. chiapet874

    chiapet874

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    You need to know ALL THE BASICS COLD. Thats why they are called "BASICS". Thats like saying, oh I don't need to know anything about DNA and hope to study genetics.

    Once you know the basics, everything else in Orgo can be logically solved. To do well in orgo, you are just gonna have to put the time to do practice problems for all the chapters- there is no easy way out.
  39. s1lver

    s1lver ☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠ Lifetime Donor

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    You are having trouble with OChem because of one simple reason---you are not using OChem as a Second Language by Klein.
  40. TallScrubs

    TallScrubs Dr. Mantis Toboggan

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    Yeah, i remember in high school every one of my science teachers complained about how hard it is--what a lie!

    As someone said before, if you are good at gen chem you shouldn't really be struggling with o.chem yet, as it is just review of gen chem concepts.

    As far as later material, concepts are the way to go. Organic chemistry uses a lot of the same concepts over and over again, although there must be a degree of memorization because of some "rule-breaking" synthesis reactions. Also, as someone else said, if you memorize SN1,SN2, and E1/E2 reactions, you are set.
  41. msquaredb

    msquaredb

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    Orgo is difficult but not impossible if you are dedicated and do not get discouraged. It is one of things where once you are finished you will look back and say "I lived and came out with a decent grade".

    I took is last year in my second semester of Freshman year and it honestly was the first class I had to "study" for. Orgo II is the same thing only slightly worse.
  42. transfec

    transfec Class of 2015

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    You need to either meet with your professor during office hours (get to know him/her!!) or get a tutor.

    I've been a tutor for Organic Chemistry the last two years and I've found that once a student becomes comfortable with material, it much easier to "absorb" all of the information.

    I'd also recommend a couple of books:

    Organic Chemistry as a Second Language
    Organic Chemistry for Dummies (you're obviously no dummy, but it's a good book)

    I WOULD NOT recommend just reading and reading. As you progress in the course, you will find many, many problems you can work on. This is how you better yourself in the class. Practice, practice, practice.
  43. sonia1177

    sonia1177

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    Reading doesn't help in this class. You can read that SN2 only happens in primary C's or that something will be E1 vs SN1 and won't mean anything until you do problems. Practice problems till your eyes bleed and you are seeing R vs. S and backside and front side attacks in your dreams. That's how you get A's in Orgo. You practice problems again and again and again and again .... And then again. Same goes for any problem solving intensive class.

    QUOTE=Ottovon;10138994]I'm in week 2 of Organic Chemistry and I'm feeling SO discouraged. I was really good at Chemistry (and I know that Orgo and Chem don't really relate) so I was hoping Orgo would be interesting since I like theory, but it's not working out so well. It SERIOUSLY freaks me out. I can't make Friday night plans without thinking how far I am in my Orgo reading :(.

    How does one study for Organic Chemistry? Please don't say memorization (I've seen this answer a lot of times on StudentDoc) because my professor believes in application of the material rather than giving us basic-testing concept problems. I have seen on this forum that "Organic Chemistry for Dummies" is a really useful book and I might get it. How much does it really help?

    How many hours a day did you study or Orgo/O-chem? I'm trying to dedicate everyday to studying it but it takes a long time to read so I end up not getting much done. I try to absorb the information, go back, review, etc.

    My life has really been taken over by this class and Biology. I'm just feeling really discouraged.

    HELP PLEASE. Anyone who survived this.....THING....share your wisdom! (I'm....serious......>=( ). Thanks![/QUOTE]
  44. shmelke

    shmelke

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    I'm surprised no-one else has said it... You were violated by Orgo... No doubt it was a backside attack:eek:
    swolebrah likes this.
  45. akinetopsia

    akinetopsia marathon man

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    I think people struggle in organic because they're used to memorization. They memorize vocabulary, concepts, etc. in other classes and try to apply the same method to organic, which usually results in an average performance. IMO not much memorization is needed. It is useful to memorize the new vocabulary or the conventions for nomenclature, and determining priority for stereocenters. Maybe you have a professor that suggests you learn the IUPAC names and additionally the common names, and says anything presented in the lecture or book is fair game. That is kind of a pain. It might be a good idea to memorize reagents, but...

    If you want to do well in organic, you need to realize it's all about the mechanism. Can you picture the reactants and reagents in space, and understand electron density? Which areas of the substrate(s)/reagents are electron deficient, which are electron rich, depending on the reaction, etc? Why? Does resonance play a part? So memorize reagents but understand mechanistically why they do what they do in a particular reaction.

    Don't memorize reactions. Work practice problems and you'll gain the ability to understand the concepts and notice trends, and then when you're presented with an exam with something you haven't *exactly* seen before, you've seen something similar and you can deduce what will happen in the reaction, whether the problem is set up for you to suggest a synthesis, or what reagent to use, or what reactants yield the given product, etc.
  46. ModernAlchemist

    ModernAlchemist Transform and Transcend

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    Haha that joke makes me so nostalgic.

    To the OP, DRAW EVERYTHING. I got the top scores in all my ochem classes and all that I did was keep drawing everything. Even if they say you don't need to know the mechanism, draw it out anyways. By the last class (I had 3 quarters of ochem), I didn't study for any test and got A's because if you know how Ochem works, the patterns are the same across the board. Granted, I am a really visual learner, but I really think drawing everything out until you get it is the best approach.
  47. TwoPaddles

    TwoPaddles

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    Well maybe your Friday night plans WILL be your orgo study time. Memorization is not the key for organic chemistry. Of course, you have to know all the reagents and all that stuff but you have to be able to apply it. If you can't understand the notes of your professor nor the book, try borrowing another book from your professor, go to tutorial lessons, ask other professors, watch videos on youtube (just type the topic on there), or just google it.
    No need to freak out, its just another simple class.
  48. orgohacks

    orgohacks Organic chemist

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    My point was that a lot of this advice was so general as to be useless. If the OP really hasn't figured out that he/she needs to know the basics, read the textbook, do problems, go to tutorials, and so on, he/she doesn't belong in college in the first place.
    Imagine someone asking "how do I get out of debt" and you get a bunch of people saying, "spend less than you earn". Or someone who wants to lose weight, and people say "exercise and watch what you eat". The point is that this is obvious, lazy advice. I mean, it's OK, it's an SDN forum, but there has to be a better way.
    The real challenge is in HOW to go from feeling hopeless and lost to making genuine progress, and giving hyper-specific action steps, in my opinion, is more helpful than blanket statements about "learning the basics"
  49. monami

    monami Member

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    You need to really evaluate your schedule so you can put a minimum 1 hour every single day(excluding days before exams). Atleast thatz what i did. But, just stick with it and you'll do fine :thumbup:. It's actually not that bad of a class. People make it out to be all crazy but it'z not. Anyone's great-grandma/pa can do it.
  50. ucsfstudents

    ucsfstudents

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    Practice problems. Lots of then. And old tests if they are available. Try other books, as was mentioned earlier
    jb94mg likes this.

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