Cmot

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Can someone explain to me why organic chem. is so hard. I obviously have not taken the class yet. I'm just curious what makes it so much harder than other science classes. Also is this the hardest of the med. school requirements?

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Doctora Foxy

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it's not that hard...it just requires a lot of memorization. The material makes a lot of sense. It was one of my favorite pre-reqs (although I may be a little crazy ;))

It may be tough because schools use it to weed people out, making the tests harder than they need to be.
 
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FutureM.D.

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I think the bio chem is interesting....
 

HamOnWholeWheat

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That's a good question. I wondered that myself until just a few weeks ago. I've already taken Ochem I and II, and it was by far the toughest science class I've ever taken (with Biochem a distant 2nd). For me, it was hard because it was all memorizing reaction sequences.

Basically, the class consists of the teacher showing slides of reaction mechanism which can be likened to putting "electron A" in "slot B" causing "carbocation C" to form which is nucleophilically attacked by "nitrile D", but this only works in conditions of 10% strong acid in the presence of phospho-peroxy-whogivesaratsass. The exams consisted of distinguishing 50 or so such mechanisms having only one thing in common: how easy they would be to look up if you ever needed to know them. So if you like opening the phone book and memorizing names, trying to find patterns in the chaos like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind", then you'll probably do well in Ochem.
 

Jon Davis

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It isnt all that hard. Don't be discouraged by the horror stories of others. There are a few things to memorize but, all in all, everything fits together nicely once you understand the big picture of the chapter. I recommend using the Orgo. book by Bruice as a supplement if you aren't using it. Dont go out and buy it since it is fairly expensive. Your library might have it. Lastly, DO NOT FALL BEHIND. Cheers!
 

Ibrahim05

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I am yet to take orgo but i have been reading an orgo text. I actually like it better then inroganic chem. There really is no memorization needed if you understand the structure of organic compounds and basic rxns. The reactions are very predictable if you understand the structure of organic compounds. Everything falls under synthesizing organic compounds and the reactions of those compounds. Atleast up till the chapter i am on right now it seems like all the organic compounds undergo the same rxns with a little twist.
 
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I think the speculation with pre-meds on Organic being hard is the underlying fact that it's probably their first 'real' class where involvement in learning the subject requires more than just "I'll just stay up the night before the exam"....in organic, assurance of an A (at least for me), was keeping up with the problems and materials as the class went along......
 

Smitty3L

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I am taking OChem I this semester....so far so good although all we have done this first week is review everything I learned in my 10 hours of inorganic. I found this website http://www.chemhelper.com and I'm sure that I will use it quite frequently as the semester goes on.
 

dpark74

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Originally posted by scienceriot
I absolutely adore Orgo- I TA for it now- but I can't deny the contorted looks of pain on my students' faces as they struggle through the Pinacol vs. the McLafferty rearrangements...
I like Ochem because of the problem solving. Cmot, if you have no idea what this class is- mainly, you do 1.mechanisms as described above by Ham, 2.syntheses (where you try to figure out how to theoretically make a large organic molecule with certain reagents that do certain things: ie, POCl2 will put in a double bond adjacent to a carbonyl group- that's the only useful thing it does, and you have to memorize that along with many, many other reagents with very specific jobs), and 3.spectroscopy (where you try to identify unknown molecules based on different spectrographs).

I admit it does blow the first time you see a spec or a step-by-step mechanism: it looks really weird, you've never really seen anything like it in other Chem classes, and Orgo has an incredibly immense vernacular to learn. You really will be speaking a different language by the end of it. However, you must become one with the benzene: don't be so daunted, and you will find yourself having as much fun doing synths as you would doing the Cryptoquip in the Sunday paper. Stay confident: as a TA, I feel that one of students' biggest downfalls is a negative, "this is not doable" attitude going into the class.

I feel sorry for your students if the above quote is representative of your knowledge of org. chem.

Having spent the last five years performing research as a synthetic organic chemist and holding an MS degree in org chem, I have encountered hundreds of reactions and have yet to see any similarity between Pinacol and McLafferty rearrangements. One has to do with acid catalyzed rearrangements of vicinal diols and the other has to do with MS fragmentations of ketones. Also, there is NO such thing as POCl2 (maybe POCl3, check your lewis structures) and no phosphorous compound just places a double bond next to a carbonyl group. (maybe enolate alkylation with PhSeBr followed by H2O2 oxidation to yield alpha,beta unsat ketone)

As far as vernacular is concerned, it's spectra not spectrographs.

Cmot, just stick to concepts not memorization. If you really look at Organic Chem, most transformations are dictated by acid-base reactivity. Therefore, always look first for heteroatoms since they are a lot more electronegative than carbon atoms. (This is just a very rough strategic plan in solving problems.) Also, as my grad res. advisor instructed, "USE YOUR LONE PAIRS (on N, O)" This tidbit is very helpful.
 

Sweet Tea

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i was one of the sickos who liked orgo. well, i liked it the second time i took it. the first time i took it i didn't keep up with the material, and tried to cram the night or 2 before the test. THIS DOESN'T WORK!!! i mean, it really doesn't work. i re-took orgo this past year, and it's amazing the difference what good studying can make! to do well in orgo, you must learn the reactions-- not just memorize them, but know why they work, and how the properties of the solutions affect them. listen to dpark-- follow the properties of acid/base chemistry and keep track of your lone pairs. it seems tedious, but it's worth the effort. there will be some random things you have to memorize. accept the fact you have to memorize it, ingrain the info in your brain, and move on. good luck!
 

agent

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Originally posted by HamOnWholeWheat

Basically, the class consists of the teacher showing slides of reaction mechanism which can be likened to putting "electron A" in "slot B" causing "carbocation C" to form which is nucleophilically attacked by "nitrile D", but this only works in conditions of 10% strong acid in the presence of phospho-peroxy-whogivesaratsass.
ha! thats how i feel about a lot of my courses.
 

greniedgal

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Hey, someone mentioned Biochem being close to the difficulty level of Ochem...so the question remains..is Biochem organic chem or inorganic chem?? (I've posted this question in tons of places on sdn- sorry- I'm just trying to figure out my fall schedule with prereqs.)
 
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Sweet Tea

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i think biochem is more like orgo than inorganic (in my opinion), but i'd be very cautious about classifying it as either an orgo or an inorganic pre req.
 

famousdoc2b

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Actually, checking out books in the library on organic chem will definitely help you to do well in the class regardless of the type of tests that are distrubuted. It gives you a better understanding of the subject matter as well as help you to broaden your knowledge and increase your methods of completing the problems, etc. I did extremely well in the organic chem series as a result of reading additional literature.
 

latinfridley

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Check out your prof's old exams and do them. Get a feel for the test format, go to any review sessions offered, do as many practice problems as possible, and make mechanism notecards.
 

kidsmd

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I don't think it's so much hard as it is just hard work. I actually did the best in organic chemistry out of all my other science classes. I'm weird like that. Maybe I was just more diligent becaise I felt like it would kick my butt otherwise. Anyways, I also tutored o. chem when I was in college and my opinion is that it is a lot of memorization in the early going but after that, it is pure concept. :)
 

CD

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o-chem doesn't HAVE to be all that difficult. Just be sure to keep up with the material....that means working on it every day (or pretty close to it) and trying to understand WHY a reaction takes place. I never did try to memorize the reactions, in fact I think that is where many students fail. THere are SOOOOOO many reactions after a while that they are impossible to keep strait, UNLESS you understand WHY a reaction takes place. After the concept is mastered, then you can PREDICT what the end result will be. At that point, organic is FUN! Like a giant puzzle. As long as you have the tools (The WHY's) it's a bunch of fun.

p.s. did anyone else take the ACS national organic exam as a year long final? I'd be interested in knowing what everyone else thought of it!

--Cynthia
 

Doctor Octopus

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I took that ACS organic final at the end of our O-Chem sequence. I thought it was pretty representative of what we learned in class, except for some questions on biological molecules and such that we never covered. I got 54 out of 70. One guy at my school got 65 out of 70.
 

Random Access

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Son of a motherless goat...I took "Freshman Orgo." It was nothing like regular orgo here at all. Basically we did no orgo until the last week of the semester. Seriously. In the mean time, we did Lewis dot, history of chemistry (worthless), and quantum mech (somewhat useful, but give me a break).

Basically he lied; he said we never had to memorize anything. What were the first questions on the test? What are the activation energies of C-C single bonds, C-C double bonds, and C-H bonds. What a joke!

The only decent part about that class? I made some good friends, except for those bloody gunners. We all suffered through it together, so it was one of those psych class things about being in a stressful situation.


-RA
 

JMD

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Add me to the "I liked O-Chem" club. I did not find all of the reactions that agonizing. Once you get a feel for the basic mechanisms (sN1, E1, etc.), it is not that tough to grasp more complicated ones. When I intially talked to my inorganic professor about O-chem, he said many people have trouble with it because they lack the perceptual ability to picture molecules, products, etc. For example, picturing enantiomers, or figuring out Diels-Alder products, etc., etc. Perceptual ability is a tough thing to teach yourself if you can't do it.

I do attribute much of my fondness for organic to having a great professor. That can make all the difference.
 

CD

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Dr. Octopus-- WE DID cover bio molecules. In fact we spent several weeks there at the end covering lipids, carbos, proteins etc. It was my least favorite part of the class. Our prof also said that she usually has someone who gets 70/70 of the questions on that test right. No one did this year. The best was 66/70 which is still in the 100% tile. I guess it helps that the classes are VERY small usually around 8-15 students. This last year there were only four of us! I just wondered what was really representative of the test.
 

Doctor Octopus

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Originally posted by CD
Dr. Octopus-- WE DID cover bio molecules. In fact we spent several weeks there at the end covering lipids, carbos, proteins etc. It was my least favorite part of the class. Our prof also said that she usually has someone who gets 70/70 of the questions on that test right. No one did this year. The best was 66/70 which is still in the 100% tile. I guess it helps that the classes are VERY small usually around 8-15 students. This last year there were only four of us! I just wondered what was really representative of the test.
Yeah, I guess our school figured we would get it in biochem. I'm sure the stuff we didn't cover probably amounted to only a few questions anyway.
 
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