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Advice for Acing Organic Chemistry

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MountainTops

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Hello!

I'm a premed student and in Fall 2020 I'll be taking organic chemistry 1. And yes, I know I have some time before the Fall. However, at my university General chem 1 and 2 is combined into 1 course done in one semester, making it more rigorous. I got a C in it, and yes I'm aware I can use COVID-19 as an excuse (I don't know how that'll go down when I got an A in everything else and it'll just be obvious my weak link was chemistry and somehow corona didn't affect my other courses) but it puts more pressure on me to ensure I ace Orgo 1, orgo 2 and Biochem to show that I can handle a chemistry course and make up for that one bad grade.

So I'm trying to start now and get ahead. Does anyone have any advice as to how to study and prepare for organic chemistry? I heard it's very challenging, and is a course which weeds out the most pre-meds, especially at my University and the professor I will be taking in Fall but she is the only option unless I want to push back taking organic chemistry 1 for a bit (I will be a sophomore in the Fall).

I know institutions and professors may teach everything differently, but no matter what orgo is challenging and the same content, so any advice at all, or studying tips I'd really appreciate. Thank you!
 

M&L

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Well, it was a while ago, not gonna lie. But I binge watched Khan Academy and I swear by it. I couldn't make it without it. Also, if you have a choice of several professors, go to ratemyprofessor.com and compare. Could definitely save you some headache.
 
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Kumorebi

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My #1 rule is negative to positive. Know your electron negativity and how the electrons flow.
 
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deleted1035036

I struggled with general chemistry (B and C+) but did very well in Organic. I enjoyed studying the reactions and structures so it was less challenging to sit down and spend the time going through reactions, nomenclature, orbitals etc. Khan academy did help but for me it was mainly also practicing reactions and finding absurd problems to do online or that friends made up using different reagents and trying to get to an end product. For nmr and mass spec, I recommend using the Colorado Boulder Ochem website. They have free spectroscopy problems.
 
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deleted1040417

Organic I will be your foundation for Organic II so make it count. Consider every exam cumulative of everything you've learnt, because it is from the first exam you took in organic I to the ACS final in organic II.

An A in orgo is no joke. You don't necessarily need to be a gen chem legend to kill it in organic. Though, there are some general concepts that are significant like acidity.

Best advice: Enjoy the process. I found organic to be really fun!

EDIT: Hand written Flashcards were my best friend
 
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deleted1035036

"Pushing Electrons" is a decent book to try out just to get familiar with electron pushing mechanisms.
 
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Sky138

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Buy a solutions manual and do all the problems. If that’s not enough, then find more practice problems online. Don’t try to simply memorize reactions or you’ll do poorly
 
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chemistry hahgdgjjhdf

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I was an organic chemistry tutor and my one piece of advice was to study at least an hour a day. All 7 days of the week! All the class really requires to master is practice.
 
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la flame

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The good thing about Gen Chem 1/2 is that most of that stuff (at least the math part) doesn't show up at all in Ochem. In fact, there is no math at all. The biggest takeway I can give is ALWAYS be ahead in Ochem. You should already know what the professor is going to be lecturing about the night before class so you aren't lost in class at all (consider lecture a 2nd review).

You should visit the link I'm gonna post. The website goes over Ochem topics that most universities follow in order on their syllabus. That is how I started pre-studying for Ochem last Fall when I took it (Made an A in both Ochem 1 & 2). Most topics on your first Ochem exam will be about Bond-line structures, Resonance, Functional group naming and Acid/Base stuff.

Another resources include TheOrganicChemistryTutor on Youtube ( I will name first my son after him!!!! He blessed me with so much Chem help over the years. That is how much I love the guy). The website "MasterOrganicChemistry" has good topics. If you are ever stuck on something, just google the topic and most of the time, that website will show up at the top (it really helped me during Stereo-chemistry).

Goodluck, and don't be nervous about it. Many people before you aced Ochem and many people after you will ace it as well.
 
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bioarchaeologist

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I read the book Ochem as a Second Language and did all the problems there.
 
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deleted1025690

I read the book Ochem as a Second Language and did all the problems there.
I second this! This book was literally my holy grail because I took OChem 1 and 2 during the same summer, my only regret is not having discovered it til 2 exams into my OChem 1 class. Ultimately ended up with a B in 1 and an A in 2!! They’re relatively short so if you spent the summer reading the 1st one in preparation I think it’d prep you well!
 
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lumya

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I also struggled with gen chem (almost failed it the first time I took it) but I aced organic chemistry. I was talking to my orgo professor who ended up writing one of my letters and he said he almost changed his major after gen chem because they’re so different and he struggled too. I found it really helpful to have a study buddy who I can work through problems with, doing lots and lots of problems, and attending office hours constantly. A lot of ochem is memorization but a lot is also pattern recognition. If you do enough problems of the same reaction, you’ll be able to recognize it instantly even if the reactants change.
 
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My college also condenses Gem Chem 1 and 2 into one semester lol wonder if it’s the same school. I got B is gen chem and A’s in orgo I and II! Completely different beast. I don’t really love math or calculations which Gen chem has a ton of but orgo not so much- more about pattern recognition. Study a little every night to let things sink in. ESP with orgo I the concepts are new so you really need time to let it sink in and can’t just cram
 
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MountainTops

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My college also condenses Gem Chem 1 and 2 into one semester lol wonder if it’s the same school. I got B is gen chem and A’s in orgo I and II! Completely different beast. I don’t really love math or calculations which Gen chem has a ton of but orgo not so much- more about pattern recognition. Study a little every night to let things sink in. ESP with orgo I the concepts are new so you really need time to let it sink in and can’t just cram

I attend the University of Miami. Is this yours?
 
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I attend the University of Miami. Is this yours?

Aw darn no it's not the same, good to know there is another school out there that does this lol i was not super happy about it at the time. We actually had quizzes every other Friday for Orgo I and II and at first I thought it was brutal but people I know with other professors actually struggled more without these check points. So, in my case I really had no choice but to study a little each day but I am absolutely positive it made the difference. Sometimes I would be struggling the night before the quiz, but then for the next quiz (it continued to be cumulative each week) the time between the first and second look made a huge difference and by the time I got to the test it really sunk in and was just reviewing. One saying that stuck with me was the night before a big race, you aren't trying to get into shape - you've been in shape and are just doing some "stretching" the night before. Same for a test - make sure you are just at the stage of stretching and not trying to get into shape :) If you don't have this set up with biweekly quizzes in your course, no worries at all just really try your best to hold yourself to something like this whether it be coming up with your own quiz questions or finding ones online! i often did weekly ones for myself personally too!
 
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MountainTops

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Aw darn no it's not the same, good to know there is another school out there that does this lol i was not super happy about it at the time. We actually had quizzes every other Friday for Orgo I and II and at first I thought it was brutal but people I know with other professors actually struggled more without these check points. So, in my case I really had no choice but to study a little each day but I am absolutely positive it made the difference. Sometimes I would be struggling the night before the quiz, but then for the next quiz (it continued to be cumulative each week) the time between the first and second look made a huge difference and by the time I got to the test it really sunk in and was just reviewing. One saying that stuck with me was the night before a big race, you aren't trying to get into shape - you've been in shape and are just doing some "stretching" the night before. Same for a test - make sure you are just at the stage of stretching and not trying to get into shape :) If you don't have this set up with biweekly quizzes in your course, no worries at all just really try your best to hold yourself to something like this whether it be coming up with your own quiz questions or finding ones online! i often did weekly ones for myself personally too!
Thank you so much this is great advice!
 
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deleted1005514

I read the book Ochem as a Second Language and did all the problems there.

Third vote for these books, they saved my butt in O-Chem 1 & 2, also:

Khan Academy
Ninja Nerd
All the practice questions in the text and/or on mychemlab if your professor uses that.
 
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jhmmd

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Ochem as a 2nd language and Pushing Electrons ftw
I read those books over the summer and they helped immensely. It's all about understanding electron behavior and being able to predict how/why electrons move the way that they do
 
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coffee&scrubs

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Buy a solutions manual and do all the problems. If that’s not enough, then find more practice problems online. Don’t try to simply memorize reactions or you’ll do poorly
I cannot stress enough how important and beneficial this can be! The key to mastering orgo is practice problems; you need to understand how mechanisms work, not just memorize them. I made sure to study the material after each lecture so I never got behind, and I did all the practice problems I could. I would have a running list of questions on a sheet of paper as I worked through my practice problems, and I would visit my professor in office hours either once a week or once every two weeks to go over the questions that the solution manual or the internet couldn't answer. All in all, it was plenty of work, but I enjoyed orgo way more than gen chem.
 
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Sky138

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Also if you use ratemyprofessor to find the crappiest teacher and self study, it’ll be way easy to beat the curve
 
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Jordyn Jones

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The good thing about Gen Chem 1/2 is that most of that stuff (at least the math part) doesn't show up at all in Ochem. In fact, there is no math at all. The biggest takeway I can give is ALWAYS be ahead in Ochem. You should already know what the professor is going to be lecturing about the night before class so you aren't lost in class at all (consider lecture a 2nd review).

You should visit the link I'm gonna post. The website goes over Ochem topics that most universities follow in order on their syllabus. That is how I started pre-studying for Ochem last Fall when I took it (Made an A in both Ochem 1 & 2). Most topics on your first Ochem exam will be about Bond-line structures, Resonance, Functional group naming and Acid/Base stuff.

Another resources include TheOrganicChemistryTutor on Youtube ( I will name first my son after him!!!! He blessed me with so much Chem help over the years. That is how much I love the guy). The website "MasterOrganicChemistry" has good topics. If you are ever stuck on something, just google the topic and most of the time, that website will show up at the top (it really helped me during Stereo-chemistry).

Goodluck, and don't be nervous about it. Many people before you aced Ochem and many people after you will ace it as well.
Hi what is the website that you said you were going to post? It says that you limited the amount of people that can view your account.
 
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