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Best way to study for organic chemistry?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Fighter127, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. Fighter127

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    Hey guys I'm taking o chem at uni this fall (quarter system) and was wondering what the best way to study for it is. Do you have to read the textbook chapter by chapter, or just go to lecture and do all the practice problems in the book? Is reading the book essential and necessary? Also if any of you have any study tips or advice for this class it would be much appreciated!
     
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  3. Afford

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    You're better off asking people who took the class at your college. Every professor does it differently. At my school, the professor loved multi-step synthesis problems, but I know friends who had multiple choice exams for their classes at other colleges.
     
  4. Dr. Retractor

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    Agree with above. Practice problems are usually your best bet, but your professor might like conceptual problems, in which case reading the textbook would be better.
     
  5. Cyberdyne 101

    Cyberdyne 101 It's a dry heat
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    Recopy your lecture notes on the same day. It allows for better retention and it's good practice in terms of drawing organic molecules (and their reactions).

    I tried to take notes on the chapter and do problems before the material was covered in class (although, stick to the problems that are assigned in your syllabus). Afterwards, I would categorize the problems (by subject and/or difficulty) and redo the ones that I felt were more relevant. For example, if chapter 7 were covered last week (and I had already done the problems) I would still do a few important chapter 7 problems while learning chapter 8. At least for me, this strategy made exam prep easier. And it was especially useful in organic 2.
     
  6. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    Read the relevant texts briefly some time before the lecture. Take good notes and pay close attention during lecture. At the end of the day (hours after the lecture), look over your notes again and review what was taught in lecture. Do practice problems on a regular basis (not cramming).
     
  7. grivacobae

    grivacobae Whatascrub
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    Read the chapter before lecture, go to lecture (hopefully good prof), do end of chapter problems, read the chapter in Organic Chem as a Second Language. Boom you should be set for that chapter.
     
  8. kraskadva

    kraskadva ...
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    Buy a model kit.
    Really. Buy a model kit.
    I can't even tell you how much time I saved by popping a few balls and sticks together instead of beating my head on the book. I tried to sell my classmates on this and the ones that listened were the ones hanging out with me at the top of the curve.

    Then do all the practice problems.
    Understanding chemical logic, electronegativities and orbitals helps a bunch too.
     
    Perry6 likes this.
  9. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    Eh, I guess it depends on the person. I was too lazy to buy a model kit and had to force myself to picture the molecules in space in my mind. Now, anything stereochemistry related is very intuitive for me.
     
  10. kraskadva

    kraskadva ...
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    Oh for sure, you have to be able to do it in your head. I think I could do stereochem in my sleep now.
    My experience was just that the model kit cut the learning curve time by more than half- especially for things like fisher projections or chair flips that trip a lot of people up.
     
  11. Theafoni

    Theafoni True Blue
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    Khan Academy (or Mastering organic chemistry)
    Ochem as 2nd language
    Read text before lecture, rewrite and condense notes after lecture, read through text once more with a better understanding
    Practice problems is the best way to gauge your understanding. I also redo them before exams.
     
  12. Fighter127

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    Thanks for the advice everyone! From what i've been told about the professor, his tests consist of mostly free response questions ( with a few multiple choice sprinkled in) and has very difficult tests with 48-50% averages. Everyone seems to say both read the text and do the practice problems, but which would you put more emphasis on? Reason I ask is because for gen chem I would try and read and do the problems but ended up doing it inefficiently sometimes. What i mean is that i read through the text/chapter first, ended up crunched for time before an exam or quiz and rushed through the book problems without reviewing them effectively, which became an issue.
     
  13. Fighter127

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    Where would be the best place to buy a model kit? Online?
     
  14. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    Practice problems take priority of reading, but you should make time for both. If you aren't, you're not doing something right.
     
  15. frosted_flake

    frosted_flake waaahmbulance attendant
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    Do EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM you can get your hands on. D exams, online material, book problems, problems from lecture, etc.
    Also rewrite your notes. I usually don't do this, but it has helped tremendously so far in my organic course.
    Organic chemistry as a second language is nice too :)
     
  16. kraskadva

    kraskadva ...
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    You can get them cheap ($5-$30) on both Amazon and ebay last I looked.
     
  17. linearbbq

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    If you absolutely can't do both, practice problems take precedence over reading the text. By doing the practice problems you'll catch material that you don't understand and can do a focused review of that section of the chapter. (And, this should be obvious but many people don't do it -- get your hands on a copy of the solution manual and check your answers thoroughly!)

    The most useful thing that I did in O-Chem was to buy a big whiteboard and draw the mechanisms that we learned over and over, about once a day. It's tedious, but if you really understand the mechanisms, it's much easier to learn and retain the regiochemistry, stereochemistry, and necessary reagents without having to memorize it all by rote.

    The second most useful thing that I did was to read Organic Chemistry as a Second Language religiously. It's not a substitute for reading the textbook and it probably won't line up 100% with what you're doing in class (unless you're using Klein's textbook), but it's amazingly clear and readable... I almost enjoyed it.

    Whether you need a model kit or not depends on how good you are at spatially manipulating things in your mind.
     
  18. neurotroph

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    Seconding the whiteboard suggestion. Doesn't have to be a big one, but drawing out mechanisms over and over again definitely improved my performance in the class.
     
  19. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries.
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    I self taught myself Organic I and II for the MCAT after 8 years and forgot nearly everything. I highly recommend Klein's Organic Textbook - much much more useful than 2nd language imo, easy read with great explanations.

    Also, masterorganicchemistry.com has these quick sheets for Organic I and II which are extremely useful and worth the money imo as it summarizes both semesters perfecttly in a way that helps you recognize trends very quickly and understand them well. He use to be a SDNer but I think retired his account (orgohacks). Anyways, they're about $15 each and well worth every dollar. You could tell he put a ton of effort into each single page.
     
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  20. meander

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    Do practice problems while reading the textbook. After each section of the chapter (or major concept or however your book is organized), do a few related problems. I am balls at reading textbooks but doing problems at the same time (more like rapidly alternating I guess) keeps me engaged.

    Keep a running list of every practice problem you ever get wrong or guess/struggle with. Make sure to return to those problems when you're prepping for the exam.

    Organic Chemistry as a Second Language really is great. If nothing else it's a cheap source of well edited practice problems (you SHOULD run out of practice problems from your textbook).
     
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  21. Cyberdyne 101

    Cyberdyne 101 It's a dry heat
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    This is critical. Ppl often get hammered on exams for errors they shouldn't have made. And you can avoid this by keeping track of the mistakes you make during practice problems. For example, when you get to SN1 problems you might forget that a rearrangement can occur (you'll know what this is relatively soon). To avoid this, if you neglected the hydride or methyl shift, make a note to yourself to look for one the next time. A personal list of errors to avoid will help substantially.

    Also, time yourself with more difficult problems as an exam draws near. In many cases ppl can draw out mechanisms correctly if they take their time, but they run out of time when the exam comes. It's typical for professors to teach you with smaller molecules but they test you with larger and more complex carbon skeletons. Familiarize yourself with the relevant functional groups to avoid getting stuck.
     
  22. Funke

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    Also if you don't wanna buy a model kit, try chemagic .com. It's like an online one.
     
  23. maxilofacial

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    Organic Chemistry by Klein 2nd Edition.. Talking about the textbook and not the one titled "Second Language"
     

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