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organic mechanisms

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by baseball34, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. baseball34

    baseball34 New Member
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    Ive taken about half the kaplan full lengths and half the cbt's without knowing any mechanisms and it seems like any reaction where you'd need the mechanims they give it to you. I got through organic memorizing mechanisms but it doesnt seem necessary for the mcat? Are you guys bothering to learn the mechanisms in the review books?
     
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  3. 130912

    130912 Drop Your Sword
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    Odd that you sould mention that. I was studying last night when I came to roughly the same conclusion. I also learned organic by trying to memorize/internalize the reaction mechanisms, and now it appears to me that the MCAT really just wants me to know the general reactions, i.e. reagents, conditions, products, and any significant intermediates or transition states. I'm going to go ahead and keep learning the mechanisms anyway, because I still feel that they're the best way to have and intuitive grasp over the subject matter, but I get the impression that they're not as important for the MCAT as they were in Organic class itself.

    Just my observation though. I doubt I'm totally right here, as I've yet to take the real test.
     
  4. MSTPbound

    MSTPbound student
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    You're right. MCAT Orgo is WAY easier than a typical undergrad orgo class, if for no other reason than the fact that it's multiple choice... how much can they really ask? The worst it gets is predicting a couple of products from a complex synthetic scheme, and even then, usually it comes down to how well you can predict the behavior of a species in a given chemical environment. Studying mechanisms helps you do this... so it may be helpful in MCAT prep, but besides a couple of KEY ones (like aldol condensations, and rxns of biological molecules), you're more likely to get conceptual questions: predicted products, stereochem, spectroscopy, orbitals, etc.
     
  5. 130912

    130912 Drop Your Sword
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    definitely. and I think we can all thank god/allah/buddha/aamc for that.
     
  6. future doctor23

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    I'm currently going over organic and I feel that I did better in the organic class I took 3 years ago. It seems harder to me for the mcat. I don't know if it's because its been 3 years since I've had orgo or what...:( Does anyone have any suggestions on what will help me?
     
  7. 130912

    130912 Drop Your Sword
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    Believe it or not, 3 years really isn't too bad. If you understood it 3 years ago, you shouldn't have much trouble bringing it all back, with a little coersion.

    As far as suggestions, all I can say is you have to remember a lot of stuff for organic, and for that I've always found flashcards to help. There are a bunch that you can buy (I wouldn't suggest the KAPLAN MCAT in a box for Organic, though its other content is rather good, and the SPARK notes organic flashcards are useful in general, but are of a broader scope than the MCAT tests, so if you decide to go that route, it might be useful to pare them down to the subject matter on the MCAT), but I've always found that making my own flashcards helps a lot more because not only do I control the content, but the simple act of making the flashcards is like a study session in itself.

    In addition, (and this goes for all aspects of studying) getting interested helps A LOT. if you can't get into organic, try to tie it to something you ARE interested in. When I'm really not understanding something, I'll often look it up on wikipedia and sort of browse around at related concepts until I can tie it to something I know or something that really interests me. (But beware the iminent timesuck of wikipedia!)

    And heck, even pretending to be interested can sometimes trick you into getting interested. (the old "fake it till you make it" effect.)

    Good luck.
     
  8. future doctor23

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    Thanks. With the flashcards, is it better to memorize the reaction or the full mechanism?
     
  9. 130912

    130912 Drop Your Sword
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    Well, that depends on how you define "better." In general, I think it's a more efficient use of time to memorize reaction schemes, i.e. reactants, reaction conditions, intermediates, and products.

    And you'll definitely need to memorize a few mechanisms in addition.

    The good news: Most mechanisms are just a variation on one of a couple themes, so if you can internalize the basic themes, and learn how to predict how different conditions will change different themes, then you won't need to memorize all the different mechanisms.
    A lot of MCAT organic is just playing around with these themes:

    1. Definitely know Sn1, Sn2, and EAS. Even though the MCAT doesn't explicitly test alkenes anymore, know E1 and E2 as well.
    2. Learn what makes a good and bad leaving group.
    3. Learn what makes a good and bad nucleophile/electrophile.
    4. ...? (does anyone have any other suggestions?)

    Being VERY comfortable with that information will, I feel, get you pretty darn far on MCAT organic. Most of the stuff I've come across on practice tests (when it comes to reactions) can be solved with a strong understanding of these concepts. By no means should you limit your studying to these concepts, but you definitely can't do well if you don't know them.
     

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