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Struggling a lot with organic chemistry

  1. Oct 3, 2012 #1
    I am having difficulties studying for organic chemistry. The concepts don't seem especially difficult, but I am not performing where I want to be at in this class (1st semester organic chemistry). I do fine in math and physics, and even did well in general chemistry, but it seems the skills necessary in this class aren't the same as the other classes.

    I don't know if it's specific to my professor, but getting all the variations of things such as all the different isomers and naming all of them and such...I can't pinpoint exactly what it is but I cannot perform right now.

    I have been going to his office for extra help and using outside resources, but I was wondering if anyone had any specific hints or tips for how to do well in this class. I study a lot more for this class than physics or math and still do worse in it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2012 #2
    It's a slightly different kind of thinking from math and physics. Reaction mechanisms are more like logical puzzles than science (at that level, anyway) and some of them require a kind of "spatial" reasoning that's different from other aspects of chemistry. Maybe it's just not your kind of thing. Nothing wrong with that.

    If you're still going to sweat the grade though, try to focus on the one or two actual "concepts" in intro orgo (basically what goes into SN and E type reactions) and try to see all of the examples in terms of those. Always references back to those and it should make more sense, though that process will take some time.
  4. Oct 4, 2012 #3


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    Some basics for organic chemistry:

    1.) You need to at least rote learn all the electron donating/accepting groups.

    2.) You need to learn the purpose of reagents under "specific conditions". One reagent can be used for carrying many different mechanisms.

    3.) Try to determine if you can use the electron density on your reactant to determine the way it will react. For eg. Salisaldehye, when attacked by a Nucleophile, Nu: will attach to o,p positions of -OH group. (Try to figure out).

    4.) Try to learn some common names. They help a lot.
  5. Oct 5, 2012 #4
    The best way I found to study organic was to pay attention very well during class. Then go over notes. After that, try the homework problems WITHOUT looking back at your notes or going back into the chapter to look for an answer. After doing the homework, THEN go back into the chapter and look for answers on all the ones you got wrong or couldn't get. After that go over the concepts you are weak on over again.

    Seemed to work like a charm for me.
  6. Oct 5, 2012 #5


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    Good advice, this.
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