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Oral exams in graduate school

  1. May 2, 2003 #1
    does anybody know of any links that show typical type of questions that may be asked during an oral exam in:

    physical chemistry
    organic chemistry?

    'eh, and inorganic too...?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2003 #2
    Don't know about websites

    Hi Entropia:
    I know a little about what one can expect from the Organic:
    They'll certainly expect that you recognize which reaction will occur or predominate given certain reagents and conditions SN1/E1/SN2/E2. Also for electophilic substitution on aromatic rings, recognize ortho-para vs meta directors. They'll possibly try to trip you up that a meta director won't undergo Friedel-Crafts.

    Also, some syn vs anti addition on alkenes, what happens when (again with alkenes) you use cold vs hot KMnO4, and why not use OsO4?
    Using amines to resolve enantiomers
    Reactions using Grignard reagents
    Predict the NMR (you put it up on the board) for some molecule that they give you the name of.
    Corey-Posner-Whitesides-House synthesis, and the drawbacks of using the old Wurtz reaction
    Anti-Markovnikov addition ( I think that the only one occurs using peroxides)
    Protection of existing substituents on aromatic rings when doing elecrophilic substitution. Think about aniline to acetanilide.
    Synthesis of aspirin maybe.
    They'll likely pursue a certain line until they find the point at which they see that you can't answer, then they'll go to another topic. If they take something as far as asking you to do something like a crossed-aldol condensation, then you should, IMO, be in very good shape.
    I gotta go, but if I think of anything else I'll add that later. Best of luck to you.

    Amos Behavin
  4. May 3, 2003 #3
    It depends on the department.

    I'm in organic doctoral program now and when I take my orals it will be specific to my project. Sort of a practice thesis defense. How did you prove that stereochemistry, what is the transition state for your key step, why did you do that, why didn't you do this, etc. Basically they go fishing until they find something that you don't know, then they make you sweat a little, then your done and it's all good. But I won't have to worry about that until late in my third year. Other departments are different, but I'm pretty sure all the questions in oral exams are taylor made to the student taking them. I don't think they're like exam questions you take in class.
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