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smuwillobrien

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I've heard some awful things about organic chemistry. I really have enjoyed general chemistry thus far, and I've done pretty good too. However, with all the things I've read I'm frightened to find out what organic chemistry is really like, and so: Should I break the two organic parts into seperate years or just seperate semesters? Would it be helpful to read a book on organic chemistry during the summer to familiarize myself with nomenclature and other things like that? Oh, and how much emphasis is put on organic chemistry on the MCAT?

Pre-emptive thanks to all replies. :eek:
 
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Don't worry about organic. It is easier than most people may lead you to believe. There are two groups of people who take organic. Those who fail every test, and those who ace every test, that is, those who haven't learned to study and those you have. If you are reasonably smart, do problems in the book, and are able to think spacially in 3-D, then you will have absolutely no problem in organic. Don't study over summer or anything like that. There is just no need to.
 

Cerberus

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
Are you joking or are you being sarcastic? ;)

I am dead serious. It can be a lot of work but the intellectual challenge is less than most premed courses in my opinion (well less than physics at least).
 

smuwillobrien

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After I get through organic chemistry does the rest of university become easier? I know I'll still have to take biology classes and perhaps to some limited extent othe chemistry classes, but are all the tough ones out of the way?
 

gschl1234

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
Should I break the two organic parts into seperate years or just seperate semesters?

I don't know about how orgo is set up at your school but at the very least, I would think you cannot take both semesters simultaniously. Two semesters of general chemistry may be done simultaneously because the topics (at least as they were covered at my undergrad) were discrete. The second semester of orgo, on the other hand, builds on top of what you learned during the first semester. If you have never had any in high school, take them in different semesters. If you feel like your high school background in orgo has prepared you well, go ahead and skip the first semester and go strait to the second, provided you speak with the professor and make sure your high school covered all the things taught in the first semester. As far as breaking orgo into separate years or separate semesters, I don't really see the difference between the two.
 

Cerberus

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The key to organic is learning "why". Most people go into orgo with this stupid idea that memorization is how orgo has to be done(usually dumb bio majors who do nothing but regurgitate facts...BURN). This is the wrong approach! Learn why mechanisms work the way they do and the rest will fall into place.
 

Cerberus

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
After I get through organic chemistry does the rest of university become easier? I know I'll still have to take biology classes and perhaps to some limited extent othe chemistry classes, but are all the tough ones out of the way?

What year are you?>
 

gschl1234

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
After I get through organic chemistry does the rest of university become easier? I know I'll still have to take biology classes and perhaps to some limited extent othe chemistry classes, but are all the tough ones out of the way?

Doesn't this depend on your major? I majored in chemistry and my first two years were the academically the easiest. During my junior year I took two semesters of p-chem (thermo, kinetics and quantum) as well as advanced inorganic (2 semesters). My junior year was definitely the most difficult. Senior year was a breeze because all I had left were upper level chemistry electives and instrumental analysis which was basically some topics of general chemistry revisited.
 

smuwillobrien

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I'm first year. Oh, and I appreciated the acid sting of that dis about biology majors. I wish I had some retort, but I usually have a fearful respect for math majors. ;)
 

Cerberus

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
I'm first year. Oh, and I appreciated the acid sting of that dis about biology majors. I wish I had some retort, but I usually have a fearful respect for math majors. ;)

Thats a healthy fear because anyone who enjoys doing proofs is out of their mind
 
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As long as orgo is well taught, it can be really reasonable. I worked hard in organic, but I loved the class. It's a good class for people who like puzzles and logic problems, I think, since that's a lot of what the class is. I wouldn't study in advance. The only thing you might want to do if you're feeling really paranoid is get the workbook "Pushing Electrons" and complete it (or at least the first half of it). It's a nice primer.
 

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Thanks lyragrl. I'm going to write that down and see if I can find it on Amazon. Have a good one.
 

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
I'm first year. Oh, and I appreciated the acid sting of that dis about biology majors. I wish I had some retort, but I usually have a fearful respect for math majors. ;)

Who dissed biology majors? I think I must have missed something. If you referring to me, I simply meant that whether school gets more difficult depends on your major. While some maybe do get easier during junior and senior years, not all are like that and mine was definitely most difficult my junior year. Whether courses are easier also depends on the perception of the student. Everyone's different so my expereince may not be the same as others but since you seemed to have asked for peoples' personal opinions, I gave mine.

Now I am taking some upper division biology classes and I definitely find them difficult but in a different way than p-chem was difficult. The concepts are not hard to understand but memorizing the thousands of facts is very time consuming. It definitely takes more will to do well in these classes. I don't think any science is going to be a walk in the park. The only majors that seem to get easier (from my observation anyway) are nontraditional ones like "health studies." They aren't classic majors but I've met a few people who majored in health studies. They take the pre-med courses through their sophomore year and then take medical ethics/law/delivery junior/senior years and it seems like it is easier but who maybe it's not.
 

Cerberus

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Originally posted by gschl1234
Who dissed biology majors? I think I must have missed something. If you referring to me, I simply meant that whether school gets more difficult depends on your major. While some maybe do get easier during junior and senior years, not all are like that and mine was definitely most difficult my junior year. Whether courses are easier also depends on the perception of the student. Everyone's different so my expereince may not be the same as others but since you seemed to have asked for peoples' personal opinions, I gave mine.

Now I am taking some upper division biology classes and I definitely find them difficult but in a different way than p-chem was difficult. The concepts are not hard to understand but memorizing the thousands of facts is very time consuming. It definitely takes more will to do well in these classes. I don't think any science is going to be a walk in the park. The only majors that seem to get easier (from my observation anyway) are nontraditional ones like "health studies." They aren't classic majors but I've met a few people who majored in health studies. They take the pre-med courses through their sophomore year and then take medical ethics/law/delivery junior/senior years and it seems like it is easier but who maybe it's not.

I dissed bio majors, it was me.
 

smuwillobrien

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No, gschl1234, I wasn't referring to you. Cereberus was joking, and wrote, "Most people go into orgo with this stupid idea that memorization is how orgo has to be done(usually dumb bio majors who do nothing but regurgitate facts...BURN)".
 

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
I've heard some awful things about organic chemistry. I really have enjoyed general chemistry thus far, and I've done pretty good too. However, with all the things I've read I'm frightened to find out what organic chemistry is really like, and so: Should I break the two organic parts into seperate years or just seperate semesters? Would it be helpful to read a book on organic chemistry during the summer to familiarize myself with nomenclature and other things like that? Oh, and how much emphasis is put on organic chemistry on the MCAT?

Pre-emptive thanks to all replies. :eek:

Ok, ok, I've been criticized for never posting anything serious. *whew* Here we go....

There are going to be a ton of things in this pursuit that people are going to tell you you can't do. Even advisors, parents, etc. express some doubts about how you're ever going to be able to achieve in these things. No doubt about it, it isn't easy.

But SCREW that. There's no telling what you'll think of it. Personally, I loved o chem. It really appeals to the way a lot of us think scientifically. There's something intellectually comforting about understanding the structural and chemical beauty of the world we live in, the natural design that pervades every everyday object, the forces of nature at play. It's truly amazing. Just like the human body. It's all building your aptitude and appreciation for understanding the genius of the human condition - don't be afraid of it.

O chem is supposed ot be a weed-out class. The thing about it, is that on SDN you get a skewed perspective on things like this. Every university structures the class differently, every person has different goals, every professor teaches and grades differently. Yes, you should absorb as much about the premed stuff as possible from SDN (it is an invaluable resource), but take it as it is. Don't tell yourself you can't do it, or that it's too hard. It's not too hard. Do everything you have to do to do well. Be creative. Be passionate about it, engage yourself, do MORE than you should have to. It's like any class you want to do well in that requires a high level of performance. Set your hard gaze and kick its ass. Own it.

Good luck, and keep the faith.
 

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Originally posted by Northerner
Ok, ok, I've been criticized for never posting anything serious. *whew* Here we go....

There are going to be a ton of things in this pursuit that people are going to tell you you can't do. Even advisors, parents, etc. express some doubts about how you're ever going to be able to achieve in these things. No doubt about it, it isn't easy.

But SCREW that. There's no telling what you'll think of it. Personally, I loved o chem. It really appeals to the way a lot of us think scientifically. There's something intellectually comforting about understanding the structural and chemical beauty of the world we live in, the natural design that pervades every everyday object, the forces of nature at play. It's truly amazing. Just like the human body. It's all building your aptitude and appreciation for understanding the genius of the human condition - don't be afraid of it.

O chem is supposed ot be a weed-out class. The thing about it, is that on SDN you get a skewed perspective on things like this. Every university structures the class differently, every person has different goals, every professor teaches and grades differently. Yes, you should absorb as much about the premed stuff as possible from SDN (it is an invaluable resource), but take it as it is. Don't tell yourself you can't do it, or that it's too hard. It's not too hard. Do everything you have to do to do well. Be creative. Be passionate about it, engage yourself, do MORE than you should have to. It's like any class you want to do well in that requires a high level of performance. Set your hard gaze and kick its ass. Own it.

Good luck, and keep the faith.
Extremely well said.
 

smuwillobrien

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Thanks Northerner. I really appreciate your post. Well written and well put. :)
 

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
After I get through organic chemistry does the rest of university become easier? I know I'll still have to take biology classes and perhaps to some limited extent othe chemistry classes, but are all the tough ones out of the way?



hahahaha, sure, ochem is by far the hardest science class you will have to take as a premed, maybe if you're a history major. Unfortunately if you're bio much worse awaits
 

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Based on the large number of people I've met who have taken organic chem, there's no way to know if you'll find it easy/hard until you actually do it yourself. Everybody has different strengths, so what is easy for some may be difficult for others (and vice versa). As far as prepping for it, others have given good advice. And on the MCAT, not very much ochem is needed beyond some very basic information--you'll learn wayyy more than you need to know for the mcat in your year of ochem.
 
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Organic is an awesome class. It will prepare you biochem which you will have to take later if you really want to be a MD.

Here's a hint: write out each mechanism on a plain piece of paper. It will help you to memorize them. Also, do all HW problems your teacher assigns, even if they are optional.

Once you get the basics its becomes really easy, but remember it is completely different than gen chem.

About the MCAT, Kaplan said that the AAMc is reducing the number of ochem questions. when i took it there was not that much.

good luck:horns:
 

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Originally posted by Cerberus
usually dumb bio majors who do nothing but regurgitate facts...BURN).

You are really, really, REALLY B*I*T*T*E*R
 

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SMU - (do you attend SMU?)

If so and you really are worried about the class aduit a class this summer at a jc. In the DFW there are jc's on every corner so I'll bet it would be easy to find one that offers ochem.

This may seem extreem to some but if you realy have fears (you would also be well prepared for the real thing) this is a option.

"The only thing to fear is fear itself & ochem".
 

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Ochem is not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Yes, it requires some work, but everything in the class follows logically from a set of basic principles. Heck, when it comes down to it there are essentially only 4 types of reactions, pretty much everything else is a variation on that. Just study and avoid the people who complain about how hard the class is. When they do this, just try to be sympathetic but don't get bogged down in the same "I-can't-do-this" attitude.

Ochem is also like a completely fresh start, as there are few things you need to know from gen chem. In fact there are only two things that I can think of: pKa and orbital hybridization. The only thing you need to know about pKa is that down is more acidic and up is less acidic. I guess there are maybe a couple other very basic things you need to know, like that like charges dont like to be near each other and what electronegativity is. Oh yeah...and lewis structures, thats pretty important. I guess there's more than I had thought that comes from gen chem, but still not that much.

I think the secret to my doing well in ochem was understanding the concepts from the beginning. I put in a lot of work during the first half of the first quarter, probably 8 hours/week of homework and study. Now I pretty much just coast, maybe 2 hours/week the night before our weekly quiz and then maybe 15 or so hours the weekend before the midterm.

By understanding the concepts, that basically means you need to be able to push arrows. These arrows represent electrons, which as you probably know, electrons are what change during chemical reactions (ie covalent bond = sharing electrons). Being able to push arrows and determine the partial charge on various atoms of a molecule allows you to know whats going on.

Just relax, enjoy your summer instead of studying, that way you'll be prepared to work when you come back. I'm sure you'll do fine.
 

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If you handled Physics well, Organic is a breeze. Learn nomenclature of alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, cyclics and aromatics, carboxylic acids, ketones/aldehydes, amines, and esters. Having a good knowledge of how to name compounds could give you an edge in organic chem. Just an idea, never tried it out though... and best of luck, and don't worry!
 

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I think it really depends on your professor.

Mine emphasized mechanisms and the basics. I had a great time in that class. However, I also know of profs. that encourage rote memorization.

Like what some ppl said earlier. Understand the "why" and constantly try to find a common thread between reactions, then you'll do fine in that course.
It may take some extra time in the beginning but it will really pay off in the end.
 

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Just keep up with the material, people learn in different ways so its just best to find what works for you. The stuff in organic is cumulative so make sure you don't lag behind. Oh, and don't worry about nomenclature just yet, my professor didn't expect me to know nomenclature rules past alkane/alkenes/alkynes.

One thing that helped me a lot is to keep a record of every mechanism you see (as well as a few notes about the mechanism, i.e. special conditions etc.), this becomes a life-saver if your final is cumulative. This especially helps in the 2nd half of organic because the amount of reactions/mechanisms you need to know blows up (and there's not much you can do but memorize in 2nd half of organic because you often have to know special temperatures/catalyst/ etc. that might be involved... 2nd half of organic seemed like a memorization fest to me).
 

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I'm sure this is a completely ignorant question I'm going to ask, but none the less: What do you all mean by a "mechanism"?
 

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Completely valid question...there really arent any mechanisms in gen chem classes.

It is just how the reaction works...or more accurately a conceptualization that accurately reflects data observed from running the reaction. Most reactions occur in stages, on stage occuring before the next. In ochem we are responsable for not only the reactants and products of a reaction but also all of the intermediates (some of which are not real, but only conceptual) in between the reactants and the products. You basically just draw a series of lewis structures, each one changing slightly until you arrive at the final product. From structure to structure you show the movement of electrons within the molecule (or between two molecules). The movement of electrons follows logically, that is one electron movement causes the next and so on. Electron movements sometimes cause parts of a molecule to become partially charged, so you draw a + or - inside a circle where partial charges are found.

Hope that makes it a little clearer!
 
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gschl1234

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Originally posted by smuwillobrien
I'm sure this is a completely ignorant question I'm going to ask, but none the less: What do you all mean by a "mechanism"?

Remember when studying kinetics in general chemistry you talked aobut overall zero-order, first-order, second-order reactions? In a way, they are indirctly talking about mechanisms. For example, for an overall 2nd order reaction (with 2 species both first order so rate law looks something like: rate=k[A]) you know that 2 species are involved but beyond that, they don't tell you how the 2 species interact. In orgo, you'll learn exactly how the electron densities of the 2 species interact with each other to result in the product(s).

P.S. I assume from your location that you're Canadian. Is the high school system like the UK's where you have A-levels? I thought that orgo was covered in chemistry A-levels but am I wrong?
 

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Sorry for being unclear about mechanisms.

it all boils down to physics. In particular, physics on the scale of atoms.
Once you start OChem, your prof will likely suggest that you use model sets to simulate molecules.

That's when your imaginative and 3-D mind comes in.

I found it easier to just close my eyes and think of electrons floating around.

Since you did well in G-Chem, it would help since you should understand electron affinity and all that stuff, which will help you understand why reactions happen the way they do (instead of trying to memorize them).

So to make it clear, mechanisms are basically electrons floating around, and the reason they tend to stick to certain elements and not the rest.

hope, i didn't muddle it up again.,
 

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Organic. Bleh. I am a reasonably smart fella and have gotten through most of college without much work, while maintaining my share of A's and B's (with a couple mistakes now and then).

Bragging? No. Organic chemistry is not intellectually challenging at all. The concepts are very easy to understand. However, many people get burned because tests can require the application of the principles through techniques such as retrosynthetic analysis. But regardless, it's really not that difficult.

I made a C+ in organic I, though I should have had a B, without studying. I am retaking organic II because not studying didn't pay off that time. You have to know a lot of different mechanisms, reactions, and reactants -- stuff you can't figure out on an exam, which is why I did so bad the first time. You can't use knowledge you don't have.

Intellectually, some of my psych courses were more difficult than organic. Learning theory was really abstract and took some time to understand. Physics II is pretty tough. Organic is not, it's just hard to force yourself to study.

Good luck.
 

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Originally posted by gschl1234
I don't know about how orgo is set up at your school but at the very least, I would think you cannot take both semesters simultaniously. Two semesters of general chemistry may be done simultaneously because the topics (at least as they were covered at my undergrad) were discrete. The second semester of orgo, on the other hand, builds on top of what you learned during the first semester. If you have never had any in high school, take them in different semesters. If you feel like your high school background in orgo has prepared you well, go ahead and skip the first semester and go strait to the second, provided you speak with the professor and make sure your high school covered all the things taught in the first semester. As far as breaking orgo into separate years or separate semesters, I don't really see the difference between the two.

High school background in orgo? High schools cover that?
 

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Originally posted by clumpymold
High school background in orgo? High schools cover that?

Yup. Mine did (not that they taught it well) and when I TA'd (aka "demonstrated") in the UK, many of the students had already had orgo in high school. Seeing as the OP is Canadian, I assumed that the A-levels covered it, but I'm not sure.
 

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Originally posted by gschl1234
Yup. Mine did (not that they taught it well) and when I TA'd (aka "demonstrated") in the UK, many of the students had already had orgo in high school. Seeing as the OP is Canadian, I assumed that the A-levels covered it, but I'm not sure.

UK? Maybe that's why. High schools don't normally cover organic chemistry.
 

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I am Canadian as gschl1234 pointed out, however, I didn't recieve any organic chemistry training during my chemistry classes throughout high school. However, the advanced classes (A-level as gschl1234 calls them) did go into organic chemistry. I know for sure they went over nomenclature, but other than that I'm not sure what else they did.
 

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Originally posted by clumpymold
UK? Maybe that's why. High schools don't normally cover organic chemistry.

I went to a US high school with IB.
 

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Originally posted by clumpymold
UK? Maybe that's why. High schools don't normally cover organic chemistry.

In Grade 11 Chemistry, we covered a bit of basic ochem. Naming structures, and drawing structures with the name provided, as well as knowing all the basic groups (alcohols, esters, ethers, alkanes,etc).
 

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Originally posted by leviathan
In Grade 11 Chemistry, we covered a bit of basic ochem. Naming structures, and drawing structures with the name provided, as well as knowing all the basic groups (alcohols, esters, ethers, alkanes,etc).

Yeah, of course that's covered. I actually teach AP Chemistry to high school students so I sorta have to know what I need to cover. There IS some organic chemistry but nothing to the extent as you would need to know for the MCAT test (I assume). Just basic groups and structures. No reactions or spectroscopy etc.
 

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okay so maybe everyone in here is hella smart,,,,but I found Ochem to be somewhat of a challenge...not because it was hard info but the time involved for the class...at least to do well....If you find yourself with nothing to do over the summer, why not read it?? I think it would give you more time to understand and memorize the reactions....Many will be on both sides of the fence, but I can tell you, if you put time into it you wont fail any of the tests,,,at least i havnt yet. and im in second semester ochem
 

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Organic chemistry is like solving a puzzle. The reason why so many people do bad besides lack of studying is because it requires working problems out at a lot of schools and not just doing multiple choice questions. Gen chem I think is way more confusing than gen chm.


However, depending on the university where you go, I think the hardest of the chemistry sequences is BIOCHEMISTRY. At least at my university the teacher lives up to the horror that he has been described as, but that's ok because I'm kicking ass in that class in comparison to my fellow classmates that were straight A students whom are now failing the class.


But the reason I say biochem is actually the toughest chemistry is because it takes the topics of cell bio, applications of organic and gen chem, and applications of gen biology and puts them all together. You have some mechanisms to understanding how a amino acid residues play roles in catalysis. And these mechs are like organic. THen you have applications of delta G concepts of gen chem to put into biological context, etc. etc.
 

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Originally posted by clumpymold
Yeah, of course that's covered. I actually teach AP Chemistry to high school students so I sorta have to know what I need to cover. There IS some organic chemistry but nothing to the extent as you would need to know for the MCAT test (I assume). Just basic groups and structures. No reactions or spectroscopy etc.

In IB "Higher Level" chemistry organic chemistry is covered reactions of alkanes including SN1, SN2, E1, E2, reactions of ROH (I think). I don't think we did aldehydes or ketones but I can no longer remember. IB is split into "higher" or "lower" (I can't remember whether they actually use the word "lower") levels for every subject. My HS only offered higher level chemistry.
 
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