do you guys memorize the entire reaction or just the reactants and products?

abcxyz0123

SDN Lifetime Donor
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2004
575
36
Status
Attending Physician
For organic chemistry on the mcat, are you guys memorizing the entire reactions, or just "x + y = z"?? Do you know if it is necessary to memorize every step of a reaction?
 

Schaden Freud

MiSanthrope II
10+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2006
1,313
6
Status
Medical Student
seth03 said:
For organic chemistry on the mcat, are you guys memorizing the entire reactions, or just "x + y = z"?? Do you know if it is necessary to memorize every step of a reaction?
You should be able to predict the reaction and the final product(s) with knowing only the starting compounds and physical conditions. Memorize general reaction types and common reagents, not entire mechanisms!
 

Brookstacular

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 8, 2006
57
6
34
Seattle, WA
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Schaden Freud said:
You should be able to predict the reaction and the final product(s) with knowing only the starting compounds and physical conditions. Memorize general reaction types and common reagents, not entire mechanisms!
Exactly, what he said.
 
OP
A

abcxyz0123

SDN Lifetime Donor
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2004
575
36
Status
Attending Physician
so then the only reason that they have entire mechanisms in the EK review books and other review books is purely for reference?
 

Dr Durden

10+ Year Member
Jun 15, 2006
4,259
1
The Dirty South
Status
Medical Student
They have tricky ways of testing knowledge of mechanisms, but it's not regurgitate it step-by-step like you might have seen on an undergrad exam. For example, you might encounter a question where the MCAT uses a "radioactive isotope" (or just an asterisk if they're lazy) to label a certain atom, say one of the oxygens in an ester, then ask where it appears on the final product. They might also ask about the chirality of end products after giving you reactants and reagents. Just know where and in what orientation things end up/start out and you'll be set for whatever hits you. Yet like the others said, don't memorize where each electron pair goes in stepwise fashion for every reaction.
 

Hardbody

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2005
743
2
Status
seth03 said:
For organic chemistry on the mcat, are you guys memorizing the entire reactions, or just "x + y = z"?? Do you know if it is necessary to memorize every step of a reaction?
You need to understand basic rules, EK showing you different mechanisms will allow you to more easily understand rules. You do not need to remember reactions, you may see one or two stand alone questions on that at a maximum. You should really post a question like this in the MCAT forum next time, you will probably get more responses.
 

Aurora013

Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2006
110
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Dr Durden said:
They have tricky ways of testing knowledge of mechanisms, but it's not regurgitate it step-by-step like you might have seen on an undergrad exam. For example, you might encounter a question where the MCAT uses a "radioactive isotope" (or just an asterisk if they're lazy) to label a certain atom, say one of the oxygens in an ester, then ask where it appears on the final product. They might also ask about the chirality of end products after giving you reactants and reagents. Just know where and in what orientation things end up/start out and you'll be set for whatever hits you. Yet like the others said, don't memorize where each electron pair goes in stepwise fashion for every reaction.
As said, just know the general concepts. What they also do, it give you a long (page plus) reaction, and ask you what would be the products of step 7, which is left blank. In that case, you have to know what would be made from the reactants you started with, and what reactans are needed to do step 8.
 

Dr Durden

10+ Year Member
Jun 15, 2006
4,259
1
The Dirty South
Status
Medical Student
Agreed, they definitely like to intimidate you with a full page spread on a synthesis with 10+ steps then ask maybe two questions on a few specific steps, all of which can be deduced from prinicples without wasting time understanding the entire thing.