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Does anyone have any good study tips for Organic? I've GOT to make an A in both Orgo I and II, and know I'm going to have to put in alot of time studying, but did anybody do anything (practice books, flashcards, etc.) that helped them out alot? Thanks!
 

ilovebiology

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I actually think the Organic Chemistry for Dummies was better than the Second Language books...except I didn't get a practice book for OChem II, so go with whatever you want. Pushing electrons was a great book for practicing "pushing or moving electrons" in mechanisms and such...good for OChem I. For OChem II the reason why I didn't get a practice book was because all it was was mechanisms, mechanisms, and more mechanisms...oh and hundreds of synthesis. Sooo I got these cool flashcards called OrgoCards. I see that on Amazon.com they have a deal to buy these flashcards along with OChem for dummies so that looks like a better deal than buying separately like I did! :mad: haha anyways, good luck! Btw, don't kill yourself if you don't get those solid A's like you want. It is the hardest undergrad class you take in my opinion. And if your prof is anything like mine, there won't be an A...study your ass off, because thats all you can do. I got a B and a C and I couldn't have worked harder. Thats ok, my knowledge will shine in the MCAT. (I'm still a little bitter) :p
 

JJMrK

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Does anyone have any good study tips for Organic? I've GOT to make an A in both Orgo I and II, and know I'm going to have to put in alot of time studying, but did anybody do anything (practice books, flashcards, etc.) that helped them out alot? Thanks!
Just put in the time and do the problems in the text. There's no magic secret, it's just a lot of work.
 

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I used the first book. It's really really good.:thumbup:
+1 If you can't stand teachers explaining science as a bulleted list of rules, this book will show you how to reason your way into understanding the system. No memorizing. The most important thing is getting down the fundamental concepts in the first few chapters. I loved ochem but I would have hated it without this book. PM me if you can't find it.
ilovebiology said:
...didn't get a practice book was because all it was was mechanisms, mechanisms, and more mechanisms...oh and hundreds of synthesis. Sooo I got these cool flashcards called OrgoCards. I see that on Amazon.com they have a deal to buy these flashcards...
Categorizing reactions works better than memorizing hundreds of them. You need to recognize the pattern. Flashcards suck :thumbdown:
 

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does anyone have any good study tips for organic? i've got to make an a in both orgo i and ii, and know i'm going to have to put in alot of time studying, but did anybody do anything (practice books, flashcards, etc.) that helped them out alot? Thanks!
o rly?
 
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Find a white board and do mechanisms ALL day. Then make sure you understand why the electrophiles and nucelophiles move the way they do.
 

Phosphorus Ylide

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Find a white board and do mechanisms ALL day. Then make sure you understand why the electrophiles and nucelophiles move the way they do.
I agree with the white board. I got a small portable one for my backpack and whipped it out whenever I had to do practice problems. I also agree that practice problems are the best way. In my experience with tutoring, many students, due to time constraints and what have you, forgo the practice problems and it reflected in their grades.

I think the best approach to Organic would be to learn the basic principles rather than just memorization, as many people recommend. If you understand electronegativity and other periodic trends well, you will find that many of the reactions are very similar. When you get into mechanisms, you will also find that you can predict most of it given the starting materials. Of course this is not always the case, but is true the majority of time. Good luck and have fun with it! These were my favorite chemistry classes for sure :)
 

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These were my favorite chemistry classes for sure :)
I think we can tell by your user name...

But I agree with you. Most students underestimate the power in practicing mechanisms and doing practice problems for most chemistry courses, not just organic.
 

Phosphorus Ylide

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Most students underestimate the power in practicing mechanisms and doing practice problems for most chemistry courses, not just organic.

So true! If it were based on lecture alone, my blank stares at my Pchem professor's scribbles on the board would have afforded me a massive fail last semester. :laugh:
 

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Hundreds of flashcards.

Front: Reactant --???--> Product
Back: Reagents

This will help you tremendously, especially with the carboxylic acids & derivatives.

Also, important mechanisms like bromination of alkenes, formation of acetals/hemiacetals, wittig, grignard reagents, hoffman elimination and rearrangement, and aldol condensation are good to understand and have memorized.

Man, I miss this stuff... :(
 

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First, I want the OP to know that organic is nowhere near as difficult as it's hyped-up to be.

As an organic chemistry teaching assistant, I can say that one of the biggest mistakes that people make is merely memorizing the mechanisms, which ends up hurting them on both o-chem tests and the MCAT.

Don't just *memorize* mechanisms in organic chemistry - understand how they work. Everything will come together so nicely once you realize why the electrons/nucleophiles/electrophiles are doing what they're doing in a given reaction. Memorizing a plethora of unrelated facts and regurgitating on a test may be less time-consuming in the short run, but truly understanding concepts is going to help you 100-fold in the long run.
 

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The Seconad Langue books have some really nifty tricks that you can use. Made my life easier.
 

scotsdoc54

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Don't just try to memorize the reactions; it's useless. Learn to see how all the reactions fit into trends (electron pushing/type of reaction/favorable conditions, etc). You will remember the reactions if you categorize them like this.


Oh, and don't let yourself get behind because it all builds on itself....
 

redlight

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pay attention in lecture. read the night before so you can listen more in class, and focus on things you did not quite understand from the readings. know lecture material cold. be sure to distinguish what has to be memorized (facts, etc, depends on prof) and what has to be understood (trends, mechanisms, why this affects that, etc)

always know why and how reactions work; pay attention to the details of the reactions, including conditions, reactants, orbitals involved, transition states and intermediates, stereochemistry and regiochemistry, resonance, stability, etc.

do tons of problems. also, i found writing out mechanisms helped me remember them. never just memorize them! there are always concepts attached to mechanisms and you wont know how to do related (similar but with different reactants or something or even made up compounds) on tests if you just memorize.
 

ilovebiology

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I agree with everyone with practicing, and not just memorizing! I forgot to mention that in my past reply and sort of got out of hand with all the books and study helpers, which I didn't explain that they are just extra, not a replacement for actually reading your lecture book and again, PRACTICING! I didn't think of the whiteboard idea until the end of OChem II, but when I did it really helped! And flashcards don't suck to whoever said that...they were actually a time saver for me once I knew them off of our packets, they had summaries on the back about each mechanism so it tied it all together and were great rigth before the test!
 

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Find a teacher that curves well.

...really though, I found that making your own "problems" is extremely helpful. For example, your text might give you a generalized reaction that variables instead of specific atoms. Make all kinds of reactants - whatever you can produce - and carry out the reaction. The downside of this is that there's no solution manual for this style of studying, but you can become familiar with reactions and mechanisms very efficiently this way.
 

GTV

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Ok, yeah it's good to understand why the stuff happens, but I think memorization is important too. It's inevitable that you'll need to memorize some stuff (i.e. Clemmensen reduction, anyone know a mechanism for that??). I memorized a LOT without knowing every detail of the mechanisms, and it worked for me.
 
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Ok, yeah it's good to understand why the stuff happens, but I think memorization is important too. It's inevitable that you'll need to memorize some stuff (i.e. Clemmensen reduction, anyone know a mechanism for that??). I memorized a LOT without knowing every detail of the mechanisms, and it worked for me.
Memorization is unavoidable for certain things (common names, mechanisms that organic chemists haven't even figured out yet, etc.); however, you should definitely strive to understand the reasoning behind most of the reactions (The Hammond Postulate, Zaitsev's Rule, etc.).
 

FuturaDocta

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The internet is your friend. Well, at least, it was mine.

The thing you need to focus on is practice. After you memorize all the mechanisms and exception to the rules, you need to practice. It is the only way you can test yourself for the real stuff.

Here are some sites that I found most helpful during my ochem experience:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2886462/Summary-of-Organic-Chemistry-Reactions

-This site is where students and professors can share their old tests and worksheets, etc.

http://www.asu.edu/courses/chm332/oldexams.html

-This is where you can self teach yourself and practice on old tests from ASU. It includes the answers.

http://ochem.jsd.claremont.edu/practice.htm

-This site also has practice tests with answers keys. It is very categorized so you can study one section at a time.

http://www.mychemistrytutor.com/forums/

-For homework problems and tutoring, you can just post a forum.

G'luck! Study study! Don't be afraid to ask your professor for help :)
 

Iced

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Practice practice practice. You will find that half of organic 1 and all of organic 2 is a new language, and its alphabet is a large comprehensive list of reactions and their reagents. You will encounter questions that ask you to synthesize a compound starting with another compound. One thing I have noticed is that people tend to get bogged down in memorizing the reactions rather than understanding the concepts and the trends required to synthesize compounds. If you want to be successful in the course, I suggest that you do practice everything enough times so that everything becomes second-nature. Most likely you will run out of book problems, but do not be afraid to consult the internet or other textbooks. Just remember, treat Organic as a language course.
 
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god this sounds so daunting :(. i plan to get a head start on the material this summer, i really don't want to fall behind in this class. i'm gonna need A's both semesters to salvage my GPA.
 
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It won't do you any good to "study" organic chemistry in the summer. Just keep up with the lecture material, do the suggested problems, understand the principles behind the reactions, and you'll do fine. The reason why it gets such a bad rap is because people try to memorize everything - don't do this.

If you really want to get a head start then learn the language of organic chemistry first...that's most important. If you don't know the language then you can't speak/understand it. For example, try to picture what isopropyl alcohol would look like as a molecule - this is rubbing alcohol; or 1,2-dimethylcyclopentene...stuff like that. You'll be so sick of this stuff every time you hear a compound with the name "ol" in it you'll want to grab a beer and forget you ever set foot into the class. Organic chem can be a very dry subject; you either love it or you hate it.
 

redlight

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god this sounds so daunting :(. i plan to get a head start on the material this summer, i really don't want to fall behind in this class. i'm gonna need A's both semesters to salvage my GPA.
ochem is not as bad as most people make it out to be. i think most people that dont do well either fall behind in lecture and don't give themselves enough time to master the material, and/or study inefficiently and have a surface understanding of the material. i think overall ochem is just time-consuming, but not really conceptually difficult.

stay on top of your lecture by giving yourself enough time to master the material and do/go over as many relevant problems as you can.

there is no point in reading over the summer if you dont do practice problems and go over those as well. you really dont need to do all this because you'll have to put in the same effort over the semester.
 

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I took ochem I in a 5 week summer session, so take this for what it is. The first half of ochem I for me was a lot of Gen Chem review (orbital crap, periodic trends, etc) along with a few new things thrown in that were pretty simple. Once you start on reactions, though, one thing I found helpful was to make a buttload of flashcards.

On one side write "start with abc (starting molecule), results in xyz (product)." On the backside, write the reactant that make that reaction occur.

For each reactant, make several cards, each with different starting molecules. This way you aren't memorizing shapes, you're actually memorizing what that reactant does.

Also, there are a ton of ochem videos on youtube by a guy with the username freelanceteach. Look those up. The guy is amazing. He has a link to his website where all his videos are listed. Very helpful.
 
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DoctorRx1986

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I'm actually a second year pharmacy student and as complex as organic chemistry appears, almost all of it is based on opposite charges attracting and the notion that electrical neutrality is the most stable form of any molecular/chemical species. I really cannot fathom why people have to memorize. Can't anyone understand that, with few exceptions, an electrophile (a molecular species seeking electrons {thus being positively charged and looking for something negative] and a nucleophile (a molecular species adorned with electrons and therefore being negatively charged will want to react with something positive] ? SIMPLE AS THAT. Electrostatic charges. Yes, the above might seem simplistic and there are many other things to consider in chemical reactions such as thermodynamics, kinetics, etc... but generally speaking, under the right conditions, the above holds true in about 95% of cases. Just about anyone has the potential to get an "A" in organic chemistry once the above is understood. Do not memorize anything in organic chemistry. Mechanisms are just wonderful...I love them :love:. I don't care how long the mechanism is: Once you understand positives and negatives and observe those arrows in the mechanism, you will see the trend. As my former organic chemistry 1 professor very bluntly stated one day, nucleophiles and electrophiles in organic chemistry are simply chemical analogues of penises and vaginas...they just come together.

The problem is that most organic chemistry professors are just incompetent and don't really bother teaching the course well. They never really let students know that once you understand opposites attract, you're well on your way to mastering reaction mechanisms and the course itself. They just seem to throw reaction after reaction after reaction to students. The typical pre-med or pre-pharmacy student, unfortunately, is pressed for time and is anxious about getting through the course with an "A" and doesn't really take the time to understand anything. The result? Most just try to memorize and waste time with flash cards. I don't mean to be pompous, but I NEVER wasted time memorizing any reaction. I would simply look at the reaction on paper, write it out, and work through the mechanism. No BS. The only memorization involved was the reagents and reaction conditions. So, overall, follow the above advice and I can almost guarantee that you will not only get a high grade in organic chemistry, but you will also develop a lifelong appreciation of the material...I sure did. :luck:
 

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god this sounds so daunting :(. i plan to get a head start on the material this summer, i really don't want to fall behind in this class. i'm gonna need A's both semesters to salvage my GPA.
Lol well, some things in life require effort. Organic Chem (and most real undergraduate courses) do. Like someone else said, "Head starts" aren't really that beneficial because rewarded learning>unrewarded learning to your brain, but your efforts are noble. Just have an open mind, and a willingness to change your study schedule if what you're doing just isn't cutting it. Happens more than you would think.
 

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ochem is not as bad as most people make it out to be. i think most people that dont do well either fall behind in lecture and don't give themselves enough time to master the material, and/or study inefficiently and have a surface understanding of the material. i think overall ochem is just time-consuming, but not really conceptually difficult.

stay on top of your lecture by giving yourself enough time to master the material and do/go over as many relevant problems as you can.

there is no point in reading over the summer if you dont do practice problems and go over those as well. you really dont need to do all this because you'll have to put in the same effort over the semester.
I agree. With the way people talk about ochem, you would think it's impossible. It is difficult, but it's doable. If you do fine in all of your other classes, you'll do fine in ochem.
 

Hyperstudyosis

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I got a white board for my room and drew the reactions over and over until I could practically do it in my sleep. I did use flash cards to learn the amino acids and sugars in second semester and to learn the reagents. But for the most part, it was just writing over and over and over again.

I'm attaching a list of do's and don'ts that my professor gave us in second semester (fortunately, I got a great professor who made me love organic chemistry).

View attachment studyguide.pdf
 
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Make flashcards for every reaction (not mechanism) you learned. Memorize the flashcards (going both ways). Memorize all mechanisms you learned. I did it by taking empty sheets of paper and writing as much as I knew, and when I was stuck, I would look up the rest and write it anyway. I kept doing this until I eventually knew the whole mechanism.

When you have the reactions and mechanisms down, do your practice problems. Don't use your book or notes, do the problems like it's a test. You'll figure out what you don't know real quick. For the stuff you get wrong, look it up and do the necessary memorization.

Basically, I'd memorize then work on problems. It worked much better for me than going the other way.
 

eez

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Does anyone have any good study tips for Organic? I've GOT to make an A in both Orgo I and II, and know I'm going to have to put in alot of time studying, but did anybody do anything (practice books, flashcards, etc.) that helped them out alot? Thanks!
Ask your professor if he can give you his old tests. You need practice with o.chem, so its not like biology where you just memorize. If your professor doesnt want to give old tests, then solve the problems in the book, ask your professor if you could borrow one or more of his other o.chem books (to solve more problems). Ask your TA for more practice tests. By this point if you're still looking for practice, go talk to other organic chemistry professors and ask for their old tests or talk to their TA.

good luck
 

Parthenon89

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work your ass off

seriously, rock an A in orgo and every other undergrad class you take will be easy

but really tho, the best thing you can do is do as many practice problems as you can and UNDERSTAND CONCEPTS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do NOT memorize,

and one trick is that 90% of things come right down to Periodic Trends.
 

ensuii

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Success in I transfers over really well for II.

We used OChem Strux and Reactivity by Vollhardt/Schore but I'm guessing it was mostly because one of them taught at my school...I'm sure there are better ones but I liked it a lot so it might be worth checking out.

Personally, I didn't really get behind the whole flashcard/mechanism thing. The most important thing IMO is to do practice/old exam problems. The professor I had made us buy a reader with his old answers and answer keys. It was amazing. The thing about OChem is that everything on the test (reactions, mechanisms, retrosynthesis, etc) will be an analogy of something you've already seen. Memorizing stuff is all well and good, but you have to be prepared to transfer what you can to new contexts.

If you can do well in I, II will be a breeze. For II, I never went to class or read the book. However, since I had such a firm grasp of the material, I was able to look at the old exams the professor provided and just get it.

A large part of how well you do is going to be based off of how good of a teacher you professor is. Some (especially at large research institutions) will have a really roundabout way of teaching and will show you esoteric material through convoluted material (I was paid to take notes of one of these such professors--I felt sorry for the students). Others will give you a step-by-step walkthrough of the fundamentals. I can't stress how important understanding OChem will be in terms of getting the rest of biochem and some other sicences. (You won't EVER really have to use the mechanisms you learn in class, but general concepts are readily applied elsewhere.) GL!
 

eez

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Yes I agree, definitely don't memorize.
 

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I think one of the most important things people tend to overlook is the actual concepts that deal with the course. Most of my friends decided to memorize their way through O-chem 1 and 2, and only passed with B's and some w/ C+'s.

Try and understand why something happens, rather than just memorize the outcome as this can help you apply it to ANY situation possible rather than just the ones you have memorized. I do agree w/ some parts of memorization, after all O-chem does have a lot of reagents and what not, but if u can understand what they do then you will have no problem in this class.

I am pretty sure everyone addressed this but i just felt the need to reinforce it as i did HORRIBLE in O-Chem 1 (partly due to a crappy teacher :thumbdown: ). I retook it with another professor and got an A, and I currently have an A in O-chem 2 as well.

I cant tell you how important it is to do the homework problems/write out mechanisms. Mechanisms are the golden KEY to every reaction.

If you dedicate 2 or 3 hours a day, there is no reason why u cant pull an A in both orgo's. Try to sample sources from online until you find the one that best fits your understanding.

Take it from me, i went from an orgo dud :thumbdown: to a stud :thumbup:! =]
 

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I didn't think organic was particularly difficult- in fact, I feel like I over-studied the first term.

My recommendations:
O. Chem as a 2nd language (at least the first semester)
A healthy number of practice problems (however many it takes to get the general concepts down)
Go to lecture and retype your notes

Thats all I did, and I would study for 24-48 hrs before each big exam (3 per term). I got uncurved A's in both terms, but 2nd term was much easier for me- I learned how to study better and focused more on understanding WHY mechanisms worked the way they did instead of just recognizing trends and memorizing patterns.

Whatever you do, you don't have to invest a large amount of time- orgo doesnt' require a large amount of time and memorization. You can do very well with a good functional understanding of the larger ideas/mechanisms.
 

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1. Re-copy your notes after class, into a sketch book. Use different colors for arrows, charges, etc, so it isn't such a mess. Once you get a good system down, it isn't all that hard.

2. Do as many practice problems as you can get your hands on

That's how I did it anyway, and got A's in both.