8 Studying Strategies for Organic Chemistry to Help You Survive and Succeed
It cannot be denied that organic chemistry is challenging, and for good reason. Nearly every aspect of contemporary life is discussed, from biology to food additives. There is simply TOO MUCH to memorize in one or two semesters (at least if you want to take any other classes, or eat, sleep, or see your friends), and because of the way the problems are put up, it’s practically impossible to fake your way through. It’s even more impossible to brute-force it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to succeed. Developing your “chemical intuition” is more crucial for success in organic chemistry than learning every conceivable structure and reaction.
Here are 8 things you can do to start thinking like a scientist and perhaps even get your life back, in addition to developing good study habits and having a solid support system.
1. Instead of Panicking, Alter Your Perspective
Even for good students, organic chemistry is challenging. If it takes you some time to get the hang of something, you are not a failure. But keep in mind that, although difficult, it is nevertheless doable. Many thousands of students have taken and passed this course, and you can too with the right tools, effort, and methods.
Consider what you already know and what you could be missing to get started. Do you understand the fundamental functional groupings but not how they interact? Do you understand certain fundamental concepts but struggle to put them into practice? Or are you beginning from scratch?
Wherever you are, take a step back and understand that you can do this. Then, identify the holes you need to fill and the tools you need to advance (if you’re really stuck, your syllabus and your professor may be quite helpful in this regard).
2. Recognize The Fundamentals
Regardless of where you are in the organic chemistry process, knowing the correct names and forms of fundamental compounds will make your life SO much easier.To get a head start on the topic, get used to sketching examples of ketones, esters, aldehydes, alcohols, etc. and know some common acids, bases, oxidizers, and reducing agents. If you don’t know the fundamentals, it’s challenging to understand how everything fits together!
When you’ve finished, even if you don’t fully understand what they mean or how they work, try to memorize a few fundamental concepts. The fact that several of the concepts in organic chemistry are rather illogical contributes to its difficulty. “Nucleophiles” are atoms that are rich in electrons and have a tiny negative charge, yet they adore positive charges like the protons in a nucleus. On the other side, “electrophiles” adore negative charges since they are electron-scarce and slightly positive.
Life becomes a lot simpler if you can organize those terminologies in your head, as well as Lewis acids and bases, various types of bonds, and molecular orbitals. To help you remember them, try using mnemonic devices, song lyrics, flashcards, or creating your own unique trivia game. As new ideas or compounds emerge, you can add to this list.
3. Convert The Fundamental Ideas into A Narrative
People are hardwired to enjoy stories. The guiding principles of organic chemistry will occupy a lot of your time. So why not make them into a captivating story?
For instance, a lot of organic chemistry comes down to nucleophiles (atoms rich in electrons and having modest negative charges) being drawn to electrophiles (electron-poor atoms with a small positive charge). Why? There are many technical explanations, and understanding some fundamental physics can help you comprehend them, but there’s no need to stick to the technical route when you’re just learning how to approach challenges.
So, go ahead and be creative! Are nucleophiles really extraterrestrial colonists who use electron weapons to assimilate their electrophilic prey? Or are they a clandestine group of ninja philanthropists who steal from the wealthy and give their surplus electrons to the underprivileged?
Having a framework might help you remember a lot more information than trying to memorize it all in separate chunks, which may sound foolish. You can master organic chemistry if you can recall every backstory from Game of Thrones, Community, The Vampire Diaries, or anything else for that matter.
Additionally, incorporating events into a story will keep you calm. and your professor doesn’t have to be aware of the titanic conflicts going on right in front of them.
4. Employ MANY Resources
For organic chemistry, lectures alone are frequently insufficient. Don’t limit yourself to just one book or instructor because everyone learns differently and organic chemistry is a very broad subject (even though you should pay attention to it for the class). Google it until it makes sense, though, if something isn’t clicking for you or a notion just won’t stick.
Of course, some sources are superior to others, and the time you spend searching the internet is time that could be spent solving problems. in order to help you go directly to the topic you’re having trouble understanding and save time and energy that you can then use to practice more problems.
5. Do Issues
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times already. However seriously you take it, do all the problems your professor assigns you and then come up with a few of your own, even if you can’t solve them, if you want to build your chemical intuition so the exam questions will come naturally. Just get used to solving problems so your mind doesn’t wander.
What sort of issues? Make sure to read through the mechanisms for the named reactions you are given in class, including ones mentioned in passing, and try to work your way through them on your own, even if you don’t memorize them. Try out some structural, electron, and orbital drawings. Draw out the various molecular isomers and functional groups. Your “muscle memory,” your chemical instincts, and your speed will all improve as a result of the arrows you draw, reactions you sketch out, and reagents in your record—all of which are essential when it comes to finals!
6. Solve Issues in Intriguing Locations
Even though the majority of your tests will be written, you don’t have to practice at your desk. Instead of trying to master organic chemistry in intensive sessions on the weekends, it is crucial to practice a little bit every day. So try to incorporate it into your daily life!
Every time you leave the house or your dorm, write reactions on the windows of your automobile with washable markers. When you’re getting ready, set a challenge for yourself and doodle one or two reactions on your bathroom mirror (but remember to delete them before they get in the way of anyone!). In the margins of your notes for other classes, scribble ketones.
Post-it notes can be used to highlight significant reactions, compounds, or facts. Place them in unexpected locations, such as the refrigerator, and read them briefly as you wait for the microwave. Make phony tattoos of chemistry for yourself, and admire them frequently (but not right before exams!
These techniques will help you stay motivated while studying and give you frequent exposure to the visuals, which is essential for retaining them in your long-term memory. You can employ concentrated study sessions to fill in the gaps after you’ve started to assimilate the material. Additionally, you’ll get a crazy scientist’s feeling (evil cackle optional)!
7. Develop Your Matrix Vision
Everything in organic chemistry is connected. Try putting some of the fundamental reactions and functional groups you are familiar with together into “thought maps” to see how they relate to one another. Look up diagrams that demonstrate fundamental transformations, such as the transformation of an ester into an alcohol, and familiarize yourself with the necessary reagents and byproducts. Like The One, you will soon be able to see the coding and patterns underlying the Organic Chemistry Matrix and learn how to control it when the illusions of specific substances start to fade.
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8. Share This Knowledge with Your Family, Close Friends, And Even Little Fuzzy Animals
Okay, so your neighbor’s dog probably won’t be much assistance, but if you’re in an organic chemistry study group, this is one of the best things you can do with your time. Take the fundamental ideas you’ve studied and pretend to educate each other on how they function instead of merely reviewing problems or assisting each other with guesses for reactions. When you explain something to someone else, it not only helps you to hear it over and over again, but it also helps you to internalize it and highlights any gaps in your understanding. ABE stands for “Always Be Explaining.”
Think of The Bigger Picture
In the end, organic chemistry is a difficult subject. You can, however, design your own path to success in Organic Chemistry if you keep your cool, put in a little effort every day, and focus on putting all the little ideas into the big picture (whether you think of it as an intergalactic conflict or a group of lonely electrophiles looking for a date).