What to Expect: A Look at Oral Exam Questions in Chemistry Graduate Programs

In summary, Physical Chemistry or Organic Chemistry exams may ask students to identify reactions, synthesize molecules, and resolve enantiomers.
  • #1
Entropia
1,474
2
does anybody know of any links that show typical type of questions that may be asked during an oral exam in:

physical chemistry
or
organic chemistry?

'eh, and inorganic too...?
 
Biology news on Phys.org
  • #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?
Others:
Using amines to resolve enantiomers
Allenes
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 got to go, but if I think of anything else I'll add that later. Best of luck to you.

Amos Behavin
 
  • #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.
 

Related to What to Expect: A Look at Oral Exam Questions in Chemistry Graduate Programs

1. What is the purpose of oral exams in graduate school?

Oral exams, also known as viva voce exams, serve as a comprehensive assessment of a graduate student's knowledge and understanding of their field of study. They allow students to demonstrate their critical thinking and communication skills, as well as their ability to apply theoretical concepts to practical situations.

2. How do oral exams differ from written exams?

Unlike written exams, oral exams require students to verbally communicate their responses to questions posed by a panel of examiners. This allows for a more interactive and dynamic assessment, as the examiners can ask follow-up questions and engage in a discussion with the student.

3. How should I prepare for an oral exam in graduate school?

Preparation for an oral exam should include a thorough review of all course materials and notes, as well as any additional readings or research related to the topic. It is also important to practice speaking and presenting in front of others, as this will help to improve confidence and clarity during the exam.

4. What can I expect during an oral exam?

During an oral exam, students can expect to be asked a variety of questions related to their field of study. These questions may cover theoretical concepts, practical applications, and even current research in the field. The examiners may also ask for clarification or elaboration on certain answers.

5. How are oral exams graded in graduate school?

Grading for oral exams typically takes into account the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as their ability to communicate effectively and think critically. The examiners may also consider the student's presentation skills and ability to handle questions and discussions. The grading criteria may vary depending on the specific program or department.

Similar threads

Replies
10
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
182
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
4
Views
360
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
23
Views
978
Replies
14
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
921
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
7
Views
901
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
63
Views
5K
Back
Top