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Chem/Organic Chem strategies

FutureDentDee

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2+ Year Member
May 27, 2019
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Does anyone have any strategies for becoming quicker at the chem and organic problems? I am starting to grasp the concepts but it still takes me a while to work the problem out and get to the answer. I don't want timing to be an issue on the test.
 

0Mik3cho

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Apr 25, 2019
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My studying philosophy is that I need to understand the fundamentals behind a concept like why something is a certain way and not another way, and what causes things to be different or similar. Eventually, when you understand those fundamentals, everything else falls into place and just makes sense. So-called exceptions to various rules are really just nuances with very good reasons for being so. I aim to understand something to the point its as obvious as 1+1=2. This approach takes time but will put you on the path to mastery and help you retain information for much longer.

For organic chemistry, I found it helpful to understand how the structure of a reactant contributes to its reactivity. Eventually, it just became intuitive and I could work through questions very quickly. Eventually, you will recognize common patterns of reactivity centered around electrophiles reacting with nucleophiles. Many reactions are really variations of each other. Some look similar while others look dissimilar but are actually following common patterns. I found this study strategy very painless compared to pure rote memorization.

For general chemistry, I did not encounter any major calculations. I don't have anything to suggest other than practice more and focus on understanding exactly why certain solution steps need to be taken. When studying, I was really obsessive about figuring that out.
 
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FutureDentDee

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May 27, 2019
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My studying philosophy is that I need to understand the fundamentals behind a concept like why something is a certain way and not another way, and what causes things to be different or similar. Eventually, when you understand those fundamentals, everything else falls into place and just makes sense. So-called exceptions to various rules are really just nuances with very good reasons for being so. I aim to understand something to the point its as obvious as 1+1=2. This approach takes time but will put you on the path to mastery and help you retain information for much longer.

For organic chemistry, I found it helpful to understand how the structure of a reactant contributes to its reactivity. Eventually, it just became intuitive and I could work through questions very quickly. Eventually, you will recognize common patterns of reactivity centered around electrophiles reacting with nucleophiles. Many reactions are really variations of each other. Some look similar while others look dissimilar but are actually following common patterns. I found this study strategy very painless compared to pure rote memorization.

For general chemistry, I did not encounter any major calculations. I don't have anything to suggest other than practice more and focus on understanding exactly why certain solution steps need to be taken. When studying, I was really obsessive about figuring that out.
Thank you so much! I've definitely been trying to understand everything rather than memorize it but it takes so much time and can get frustrating. Hopefully it pays off in the end. Were the calculation gen chem questions on the DAT easier or harder than the ones on DAT bootcamp?
 
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0Mik3cho

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Apr 25, 2019
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Laniakea Supercluster
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Thank you so much! I've definitely been trying to understand everything rather than memorize it but it takes so much time and can get frustrating. Hopefully it pays off in the end. Were the calculation gen chem questions on the DAT easier or harder than the ones on DAT bootcamp?
Generally a bit easier and a bit less involved calculations. But the style of question is about right.
 
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chemphysicsinstructor

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Apr 6, 2018
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Does anyone have any strategies for becoming quicker at the chem and organic problems? I am starting to grasp the concepts but it still takes me a while to work the problem out and get to the answer. I don't want timing to be an issue on the test.

Practice. Practice. And teach/tutor the material to others.
 

basskleff

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Mar 8, 2009
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Yes practice. But ones that you're consistently challenged with or are getting wrong, dig out your courses' textbooks, read the theory and try a few problems within that book's framework, Hopefully you have the answer key book.
For me, gen chem and o-chem problems, while there's overlap (acids, hybridized bonding and orbitals, lewis structures, pH, etc) are almost completely different languages. Find out if you're struggling in setups, balancing, math, arrow pushing, etc. or exactly where. Drill down into your course notes and books and work a few exercises at that level. That's how to become proficient in my opinion. You recognize problems and know how to get started.
 

DrDisrespect

Full Member
May 27, 2020
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I personally do NOT like Mike's Videos on BC, just for my learning tendencies. I prefer Chad's Videos as far as how he explains/covers concepts, mechanisms, reactions, etc. I also found OC As a Second Language very helpful for OC, and goes hand in hand with Chad's videos. That textbook helped me get an A in both my semesters for OC, and has been helping me ever since. However, I still do the practice problems that are on Bootcamp, and kinda mesh everything together for my liking.

You should definitely set aside time as to how you absorb/understand material the most, because I definitely wasted some time going through Mike's Videos. Then having to switch midway, and re-watch Chad's videos. This was just my personal experience, and I'm sure Mike's videos have helped tons of people, hence, the popularity of BC. Therefore, this is just my 2 cents, and hope you figure out what you need to!
 

ChemistryDentist

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Apr 10, 2018
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Not entirely sure why this thread is being pulled up a few months later, but for the interest of future students, I'll opine a bit.

My studying philosophy is that I need to understand the fundamentals behind a concept like why something is a certain way and not another way, and what causes things to be different or similar. Eventually, when you understand those fundamentals, everything else falls into place and just makes sense. So-called exceptions to various rules are really just nuances with very good reasons for being so. I aim to understand something to the point its as obvious as 1+1=2. This approach takes time but will put you on the path to mastery and help you retain information for much longer.

For organic chemistry, I found it helpful to understand how the structure of a reactant contributes to its reactivity. Eventually, it just became intuitive and I could work through questions very quickly. Eventually, you will recognize common patterns of reactivity centered around electrophiles reacting with nucleophiles. Many reactions are really variations of each other. Some look similar while others look dissimilar but are actually following common patterns. I found this study strategy very painless compared to pure rote memorization.

For general chemistry, I did not encounter any major calculations. I don't have anything to suggest other than practice more and focus on understanding exactly why certain solution steps need to be taken. When studying, I was really obsessive about figuring that out.

I agree absolutely, 100% with everything @0Mik3cho says in his comment. To add on, for OC, it's very important to understand what all of the reagents do and what specifically they react with. That can sometimes give you a hint at what the question is looking for. Now that does mean you need to do some memorization (specifically of the reagents and what they work on), but the more problems you work the more it becomes second nature. Problems referring to the Destroyers, as I always need to plug!

For GC, the calculations I passed over were super simple. Even the one or two pHs I needed to calculate had easily estimable logs. Regardless, don't go in too unprepared - be ready to do some simple math, but it will end up being mostly mental math. No calculator there! As for getting faster, I found the best way was to get exposed to more questions and just doing as much as possible. Another plug for the Destroyer. It keeps you on your game for randomness of topic and difficulty, plus exposes you to a whole load of questions.
 
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