Organic Chemistry

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May 18, 2003
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Organic chemistry is one of the prerequisites in order to get into pharmacy school. I just finished my first year of general chemistry and I am about to take Organic in fall. I was just wondering how difficult this class is. From what I have heard its the most difficult science class. Can someone give me info on what type of studying to expect while taking this class. Are there a lot of memorizing to do?

Any info will help. Thanks!

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I'll try to's been soooo long since I took OChem, hopefully other forum members will be able to add their 10 cents...I'll put in a penny ;)

There is a lot of memorization, you can't get away from that (I put alot of reactions on flash cards). I thought that it helped if you can try to understand the mechanisms behind some of the reactions ("pushing electrons") helped make sense of what otherwise seemed like a daunting amount of material.

I did better in OChem than I did in GChem. I actually found GChem (especially 2nd quarter Acid/Base Chemistry) much more difficult to "get a grasp" of. Ironically, that's kind of chemistry (Henderson-Haselbach (sp?)) that you see again in Pharm School.
With the way my professor taught organic chemistry I thought it was pretty easy. Not a lot of memorization involved at all. He'd teach us indepth the mechanism of each reaction and the test would just be several problems for each reaction type (usually 2 or 3 reactions on each test with about 15 problems total). He'd give us the reactants and we'd just have to fill in the products. There were also 2 or 3 of the problems where we had to show in detail the mechanism of the reaction. Granted, a lot of the reactions were very complex, but based on what other people have told me their organic classes were like I thought mine was a lot easier.
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Orgo is not difficult but requires consistent practice and effort.
It is like a language----very sytematic and technical but can be quite fun. I think that many students find it hard because they haven't grasped the right approach to take.

1.) Don't memorize every single detail. You'll go crazy and not get the big picture if you do.
All the reactions fit into a dozen or so general mechanisms. If you focus on the 'force' behind why bonds are breaking and forming---the electronic configurations of the compounds influencing each other and ultimately electrons shifting around---you'll do fine.

2.) Most impostant: Do ALL the problems in the chapters that you cover in your text. After you do them once, do them again and again---rinse and repeat. At first, it will seem time- consuming, nerdy, and tedious, but with each interval, you'll be faster and it will get more and more satisfying since it becomes so easy. By the time you're through, you'll be able to solve synthesis problems that require as many as five or six different steps, in the blink of an eye. You'll actually feel astounded that you were able to learn all that stuff so well.

Take my advice and not only will you actually like orgo, but you will kick some serious a$$!

Good Luck!
I loved Gen Chem, but didn't really like organic. The first semester is not difficult, mainly learning nomenclature, mechanisms and a few reactions. It doesn't turn into hell until the 2nd semester. You need to remember everything from 1st semester, too. You can't really get by on blatant memorization. You need to understand what happens with each reaction.

Listen to chunkyb about the end of chapter problems. That's the best way to learn the material.

I also bought Barron's Orgo Cards, for quick studying on the fly. They contain just about every reaction you will need to know.
I wil be taking Organic Chemistry this fall too.
My general chemistry professor told me to review: Nomenclature, Electronic structure of atoms, basics concepts of bonding, Molecular Geometry and Bonding Theories, Intermolecular bonds these are material from Chemistry1 and Kinetics and acid Base equilibria materials from Chemistry II to be prepare for organic.
I love o-chem and want g chem to pass quietly into oblivion. Just playin. I guess g chem wasn't that bad, I just think it's a lame substitute for physics. Dealing with chemical reactions is so less cool than dealing with atomic reactions. I digress...

Like I've said many times o-chems kick very much a$%. I love that stuff. Nucleophilic attack makes me happy.
I both loved and hated O-Chem at different times. One thing my first semester professor said was that you had to have an "ah-haa!" moment with it. For some people that seemed immediately, some never got it, and for others it just took awhile. I did the memorization thing 1st semester and got by with a B. Then sometime in the beginning of the second semester I switched my study habits, started doing tons of problems in the book, and one day I was just looking at a reaction and I went "Ah-haaa!" and it all just clicked together and I got the concepts and mechanisms from then on and got an A. So DEFINITELY DO PROBLEMS... and once you see it, the course will be pretty cool :)
I took it last year. Be sure to have a good understanding of the whole acid/base thing because a lot of it deals with pH.

As far as difficulty is concerned, for me it was difficult for about the first half of the semester in Organic 1. To the point where I wanted to jab myself in the head with my #2 pencil. Then I had an epiphany, or something, because it all of a sudden just started making tons of sense, the rest of the semester and Organic 2 were a breeze. The concensious of my classmates seemed to be similar; just when you think you've bitten off more than you can chew, it gets easier. It actually makes all of your other classes look like cake in comparison. If you are anything like me, by the end of the year you're sitting in your physics class yawning over how easy it is (compared to Organic) making huge structures starting from just methane for fun.