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I'm about to begin taking my first premed courses. I have heard lots of horror stores about how difficult it can be (especially Orgo Chem), so I'm expecting to have to study harder than I've ever studied to get the grades I need.

For those of you who managed to get straight As (or a comparable grade), what tips can you give to us who may be just getting started?

Thanks! :)
 

organdonor

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I'm about to begin taking my first premed courses. I have heard lots of horror stores about how difficult it can be (especially Orgo Chem), so I'm expecting to have to study harder than I've ever studied to get the grades I need.

For those of you who managed to get straight As (or a comparable grade), what tips can you give to us who may be just getting started?

Thanks! :)
I got A's in all but my two semesters of Org, and I got B's there. Don't sweat it. A B, or two, or three, isn't going to kill you. Don't go into it expecting to get all A's either. There are too many circumstances, medical problems, professor problems, loss of data, that go into a GPA other than intelligence and hard work. Do the best you can do.

ok now that that is done, the biggest thing that helped me was being organized. Use a three ring binder for each class and hole punch EVERYTHING. I even carry around a little hole puncher that does a couple pages at a time for those worksheets given out in class. A folder was NOT cutting it for me. As soon as I got something, it went into the depths of the folder never to return. If available, print out the notes beforehand, hole punch them, and place in binder.

Choose your lab partners wisely. The data that they obtain will be responsible for your grade. You can't do the whole project yourself and everyone gets an A like in high school.
 
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IH8ColdWeath3r

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(1) read before class, makes everything MUCH easier.
(2) if you can, read ahead...it's always better to be ahead than behind
(3) Don't write down everything in class; in physics, my prof posted all his notes yet everyone continued to copy them word for word, frantically. Just sit in class and watch what the prof is doing, how he solves the problems, understand what he's doing and his train of though. This really helps!
(4) use other sources for when you are unsure of things. Look them up on the net (from a credible source). watch videos on science topic on youtube.

Also, don't be afraid of orgo! its not difficult, it just takes a lot of time to learn. I'm a bio major and organic was my favorite class and now i'm a TA and tutor for it.


With that being said, if your a Freshman, Enjoy your college life! Nothing says you have to make straight A's (although it be nice). Don't be so focused that college passes you by, without you even noticing it
 
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Thanks guys for your responses.

I'm in fact a Sophomore as of now, planning on taking 5 years total for undergrad.

I unfortunately got off to a pretty rough start freshman year (some minor family issues, laziness, lack of motivation etc.) and am now trying to make up for it which is why I ask.

Your tips sound very useful and I'll be sure to remember them!

Any other advice is certainly welcome.
 

rHinO1

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I think you should go into every class expecting you will get an A. If you don't believe it will happen, then it won't.

Read assigned chapters before going to lecture

Do all of the assigned problems

Get old exams (use course hero if exams for your prof are available) or use quizzes from the textbooks companion website to test your knowledge before exams.

Cramster.com is an awesome website for physics help.

keep up with the reading and the work assigned each week. Don't fall behind and end up cramming for tests.

I think the most important thing is be willing to do whatever is necessary to get the A.
 

DrSmooth

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The number one thing is to only be satisfied with total mastery. Getting A's for most classes is not rocket-science. You just have to know the material and be able to apply it. I see a lot of people just sort of play around with the material and hope it turns out okay come exam day. Don't let yourself do this. Actually, find these people and try to teach them the material, it probably won't help them much, but it will help you a ton.

Review your notes or relisten/watch your lecture the same day. There is a near exponential drop-off in retention the more days you wait to review what you just learned. This combined with previewing the lecture material helps you move content to long-term storage so you are not totally relearning it come exam time.

Also, another option instead of having to 3-hole punch everything for a binder is a compact expandable file folder that fits in your backpack. You have a section for each course (w/ dividers if necessary) and can just drop worksheets, exams, etc inside instead of punching.

And of course loading all of your exam dates and major assignments onto your phone so you can notify yourself however long ahead of time to get cracking.

I agree with the previous poster that Ochem is a lot of fun. But the first few weeks are tough because you have no context. It's like being dropped in a foreign country. It helps a lot to learn the basics ahead of time on your own, like the stuff you do before mechanisms and synthesis, I'm blanking right now on what all that stuff was, somebody help me out... And definitely get Ochem as a Second Language books.

Lastly, get to know your professors (and TAs) and use office hours. I have had some professors drop hints about what to study and not study before a big exam and two different professors actually gave me hints during exams (!!!). These are also the guys who decide on your grade if you are on the borderline. And you'll be asking them for LORs later on so it helps if they can remember you.
 

IH8ColdWeath3r

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I agree with the previous poster that Ochem is a lot of fun. But the first few weeks are tough because you have no context. It's like being dropped in a foreign country. It helps a lot to learn the basics ahead of time on your own, like the stuff you do before mechanisms and synthesis, I'm blanking right now on what all that stuff was, somebody help me out... And definitely get Ochem as a Second Language books.

L
s,p,d,f orbitals, bond angles and geometry (tetrahedral=109, trigonal planar =120, linear= 180), resonance, newman projections, chair conformations, thermodynamics, stereochemistry. The best thing you can do is REALLY MASTER the orbitals and resonance and watch some youtube videos on newman projecton and chair conformations....will make life a lot easier!!:):)
 

mubaby

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If you can, take one of your organics in the summer. It really helps to not have other classes to worry about or other responsibilities that you would usually have during the year. Do yourself a favor and take REALLY GOOD NOTES that you can keep so when the MCAT comes rolling around, you can use it. I wish I had kept better notes for gen chem and organic!
 

Augustus

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I'm about to begin taking my first premed courses. I have heard lots of horror stores about how difficult it can be (especially Orgo Chem), so I'm expecting to have to study harder than I've ever studied to get the grades I need.

For those of you who managed to get straight As (or a comparable grade), what tips can you give to us who may be just getting started?

Thanks! :)
The best I advice I could give you is DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE ANY COURSE no matter how easy they may seem at first.

Study daily. If you don't understand something ask your professor, right away, especially in the chemistrys & physics because a lot of the material builds upon previously learned material and you cover a lot of material fast.

Your textbook can, and likely will, be your best friend. Don't be afraid to read it. But some books are better than others.

Don't ever feel ashamed or embarrassed to go and ask your professor 10,000 questions. After all, you're the one getting graded.

I didn't do well in most of my pre-med reqs. But I recently started to really perform. I'm killing biochemistry and I'm in my professor's office asking questions 3x a week. Its important to me that I understand EVERYTHING, in addition to just knowing the facts, we are responsible for and even a little more.

One last thing. If you aren't ready to commit to these courses, don't take them right now. I'm not saying you aren't a serious student but if you've got too much going on then perhaps it isn't the greatest idea to get involved in courses that will consume a lot of your day, every day.

I'm convinced that there is no such thing as "smart people" and "dumb people" but rather the distinction comes from how much time and quality work is put forth.
 

AH3

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2 big things that often get overlooked when trying to do well in these classes:

1) Research the professors teaching the class. It depends on the school (I'm at a big university), but a lot of courses are taught by different professors, whether during the same semester or different semesters. Some professors like to show off how "smart" they are and give out horrible grades and demean students, while others are helpful and want to see their students succeed. It may not always be that clear cut, but finding the best professor for each course can dramatically improve your opportunity for success.

2) Go to class and take notes. That sounds like a no-brainer, but I know a lot of people who will skip class and just read the book, then wonder why they didn't do well. Or if they do well, they will have to put in a lot more effort than was needed. Professors teach about the things they think are important. The book is important, but I usually go by lecture notes first, then the book for clarification or extra info if I need it. Some people prefer just reading the text though, so it ultimately comes down to the way you learn best.
 

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I also took organic chem over the summer and I think that's very good way to go, if you're worried about it being overwhelmed by other classes. It requires a bit of endurance, but it's nice to be able to not think about anything else.

A lot of people say that organic chem is so hard because it's all memorization. From my experience, if you're memorizing everything (like trying to memorize every reaction you think you might see on the exam), you're doing it wrong. Once you get the basics, it's very logical; if you learn the rules you should be able to predict a reaction without knowing what kind it is. I think that might be helpful to keep in mind, and if you're having trouble seeing the patterns, go to office hours.

Going through reactions with a friend or two also helps (studying/commiserating with friends was a huge factor in my surviving the tedium of organic every single day :p ), as does doing a ton of problems and going through old exams. I've heard that the Orgo as a Second Language books are good, but I haven't used them. I didn't really use the textbook to study, but that probably had more to do with my professor's teaching style than with the material itself.
 

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One thing I wish I would have known when I started was how important old midterms and finals are. They guide your studying in the right direction. Make sure you know the professor's lectures to the last detail and take as many old exams before your midterm and finals as you can. And the most important secret to getting good grades is deactivating Facebook.
 

s1lver

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read tomorrow's lectures the night before
that night, read the lecture notes for that day + read ahead for tomorrow's lectures
every week, re-read everything

Good luck and you'll be fine as long as you use the right resources (esp. office hours) and don't lose track of getting an A in every class.



PS - Bookmark RateMyProfessors.com
 

roseglass6370

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Everything that was posted is GREAT advice!!

I'll also add/emphasize...

(1) Go to class. It seems really basic, but especially in some of the chem classes (and math), if you miss a day, you miss a lot.

(2) Have no shame when it comes to asking questions. I used to be embarrassed to ask the prof a question or go to office hours because I thought it made me look "stupid." But honestly, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes. So if you don't know something - ASK. (NOTE: This does not mean you should be "that guy/girl" in class that won't put their hand down. There is plenty of time after class and in office hours to ask questions, and more time for the professor to explain them in detail, too! :) )

(3) Do practice problems. The week before an exam I go through EVERY PROBLEM at the end of the assigned chapters, even the ones I did for homework assignments before. Practice makes perfect. This drills it into your head.

(4) Study with others. If you don't get something, chances are there is someone else in the class that does. Get together the names of people in your class that will be willing to review with you. It's sooooo helpful! Plus, as mentioned earlier, explaining concepts to others will help you A LOT. It will reinforce what you know, and highlight the things you need to review (if you can't explain it to someone else, you probably don't understand it!)

Best of luck!! :)