Organic Chemistry Pre-Finals Video 1

The first step in pre-final success is setting yourself up FOR success. Video 1 is all about the ‘Backwards Calendar’. What does this mean? How will it help? Watch and find out

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Video 2 to follow shortly

In the meantime, after leaving a comment below, start getting familiar with the following study strategies:


  1. Missed your on-line workshop because my Orgo I class is M/W nights! Cumulative final is Dec. 12, I have been reviewing all of your videos, but I still have trouble with cyclohexane chair flips. Expecting many synthesis problems on the test.

  2. Hi Leah. My orgo final is December 15, 2016. I’m worried that I’m running out of time. I am most concerned about synthesis reactions, memorizing the reactions and knowing when and how to use them.

  3. Angel Vargas says:

    Good afternoon Leah,
    My orgo 1 final is cumulative and is on Dec. 14th over 10 chapters. I guess substitution/elimination reactions and chairs are what is worrying me.

    • Angel: make sure you spend EXTRA TIME on substitution/elimination as this is THE most difficult orgo 1 topic in my opinion. In your calendar schedule in double the amount of time for this topic

  4. Hi Leah,
    My final for this class is December 17th, but I have another exam on November 30th. We are currently studying reactions and mechanisms (elimination, addition, oxidation, reduction, acyl substitution, condensation, etc.) and I can’t even express how lost I am. I feel like studying for this next exam is going have all of my attention until November 30th, since I am currently so lost with the current material. This will leave me with just a little over 2 weeks to study for the final. Any advice on how to pass this upcoming exam and the final?

    • Melanie: focus on the exam first. Break down the exam topics and master them one at a time. If you look at it as one big exam you’ll freak out. But one single topic is doable, then the next and the next.
      Do this till the exam and repeat for the final after this exam

  5. Hi Leah. I’m in Orgo 1. My final is Dec. 13, and our last test is Dec. 8. I’m worried about remembering the reagents and mechanisms. Thank you for your help!

  6. My test is on Decemeber 12th. It cumulative final. The subject that I am most concern about is stereochemistry and synthesis.

    • Jenish: If this gives you the most trouble give IT an extra day or two in your calendar. Use the extra time to dive deeper into tutorial videos and to do extra practice questions so that it doesn’t scare you as much

  7. My final is on decemeber 12th. Have one more test before that on wednesday after thanks giving.

  8. Final Exam is Dec. 8 but Exam 4 is 2 days prior to that! I set up the calendar but am most worried about SN1, E1, SN2, E2 mechanisms since I failed that exam!

    • Stacye: Oh wow, 2 days between exam and final is brutal. Treat that prior exam as your final date so that the in between time = review time. Focus HEAVILY on SN1, E1, SN2, E2 to ensure you master it on the final

  9. Jessica Nalumansi says:

    I have my finals first week of Jan. mechanism is my enemy .I never miss lectures but every day it is like speaking chines to an American baby. I have 6 modules. I never have chance to study because of report writing. Yesterday was my first day in the study hall but I had connection issues. Well the tinny I heard sounded great.
    In critical condition because I would love to get over this course once and for all but in an amazing style

    • Jessica: Oh wow, sounds like you have a lot going on. Make sure you carve out a block of time each day and follow the backwards calendar in that block so you’re not left scrambling or cramming after Christmas.

  10. Jessica Nalumansi says:

    My finals for my course is first week Jan. Mechanism is like speaking chinese to an American baby. I never miss lecturers but mechanism are teasers because every lecture seem to be first day in the hall. I have 6 modules though altogether. I never have chance to study until up to two weeks to exams because of report writing.
    Doing org 2, Yesterday was my first day and I had connection issues meaning did not follow well though the bits I got sounded great. Just worried because just want to get over it once and for all in best style

  11. Celesté Mapling says:

    Hi Leah,

    I have a week to study for I believe what you call cumulative chem (I’m in S.A). I have 10 Chapters to study and have gone through all the theory but my problem is application as well as bringing two or more concepts together when thrown into one question as the textbook only deals with questions of specific chapters. I have set up my calendar to do two chapters a day with a catch up day and a review day. Please can you advise on how to bring concepts together and ace this exam.

    Thanx for your video’s, they’re a great help!

    • Sounds like you have quite the intense calendar going. Look for practice problems outside of your textbook that combine chapters in each question to help you prepare for the final

  12. robertha amezola says:

    One of my worries is calculating optical rotation and my exam is cumulative also could the approach of the calendars be applied to any other class?

    • Robertha: This approach works for EVERYTHING! Even non academic goals. Make a plan, break it up into bite sized chunks an tackle it one day at a time

  13. I am taking Orgo 1 over summer a tough 6 week class but I wanted to rip off this course like a bandaid. I am two weeks in and I just took my first tests and I feel like I might have failed so I really need to go up from here. My final is July 1. I am really hoping that your videos help. Looking forward to Video 2! I really appreciate all of your assistance. 🙂

  14. Hi Leah – My Intro to Organic / Biochem final is May 23rd. I am most concerned about reactions. At this point it is just a “guess” as to what will happen. Thank you for this first pre-final video.

    • Leah4sci says:

      You can’t afford to guess. Go through each reaction and figure out WHAT is happening and WHY. Do this one by one till you have them all down

  15. Vicki Winston says:

    Hi Leah, I’ll see you in a few moments. My final is on the 16th of december, orgo one. and I have a chapter test next wednesday. We havent moved into reactions yet – our instructor takes all of the 10 week quarter to cover functional groups, naming and properties – then in Orgo 2 we start reactions and mechanisms. Hes a great teacher and I’m super excited. see you in a moment.

  16. My OChem 1 exam is 12/22 and it’s a cumulative final. I think clearly being able to apply the correct concepts worries me the most. I can read the text and understand the material, however when it’s time to apply what I learn it’s like I’m a deer in headlights. I believe I have to practice more. I want it to feel like second nature seeing a problem and being able to determine exactly what I need to do.

    • From your participation is yesterday’s session it sounds like you have the basics. It’s simply a question of doing enough mixed-chapter practice problems to ensure you really and truly get it

  17. Hi.. Thank you so much for this video. I hardly ever had to study before and this semester, organic chem is killing me. I am kinda learning how to study and am getting better at ochem but there is so much from the beginning of the semester that I didn’t learn well especially the reaction mechanisms for the alkenes… I got the benzene mechanisms down though..=] I have my final on 12-14-15 but we have our last exam tomorrow. I was wondering how can you study for exams that you know are looming really close and study for the final especially if you’re as behind as I am??=[

    • You have to break up your calendar so that you’re giving yourself time each day for next exam AND final exam prep.
      For example, if you have 3 hours for orgo prep use 90 minutes for the next exam and the other 90 minutes for early chapter final review

  18. My exam is in 8 days and I am weak on pretty much all reactions. This is just Org 1, I guess. Biochem is next quarter.

    • You need to devote as much time as you can to review all reactions. Start from the basics then focus on patterns, logic and shortcuts

  19. Hi, ms leah, i got a total abt 13 chapters to go. My very 1st org chem final in my uni life may hold on 28/12. I feel really stressed out, because the syllabus of mine is so confusing by combining 2 chapters or more into a single chapter. Yet, i not find my lecturer is helpful enough for me to understand what’s going on, But, thanks to ur video, i can easily understand the basic. I still need 37/45 marks from final to get my A. Do u think is thr any possibility for me to get my A? As i hv a total of 10 subjects to cover with…..

    • Nothing is impossible, but you have to set realistic goals and expectations, and you have to stick to your study schedule every single day

  20. My Orgo exam is on Dec 18 and is cumulative (orgo 1) and will cover the first ten chapters, I believe. I am most worried about ch 8 mechanisms and trying to remember.

    • Look for the logic and patterns in the mechanisms so that you start to see a big picture instead of hundreds of unrelated ‘steps’

  21. This is really helpful…thanks

  22. Hi Leah, thanks for the info. i have my organic chem progressive exam on 8th December and have to cover 16 topics, my worries are in areas of functional groups and mechanisms of reactions, and i have to balance reading other course units like biochemistry, anatomy and physiology which themselves are too large. i get mixed up and confused sometimes, seeing the available time in relation to volume of what to cover. plz help.

    • Wow Mike, You certainly have a lot to cover. I recommend setting up the calendar so that you schedule time for EACH subject every day to make daily progress. I hope you’ve already started studying for finals to ensure you have enough time. I am curious though, how come you’re taking orgo and biochem in the same semester?

  23. MS Leah, My daughter’s exam day is Dec, 15 2015. She is at college right. Like I said. I try to help and refresh myself while I am in the process of healing after surgery with my 30 year ago memory. I had a BS in chemistry. Thanks.

    • Again, that’s amazing that you’re learning the information to help your daughter learn. I hope she appreciates how hard you’re working for her

  24. I have only 30 days left, and 2 exams. One of them is orgo exam. What worries me the most is all the things we have to memorize, the reagents especially!! Thank you for the video 🙂

  25. Dedra Jeffries says:

    Hi Leah! Thank you so much for this video! As you know, I’m taking the national ACS Orgo 1 exam on December 10, 2015. Mechanisms worry me the most. There are so many of them.

    • Dedra: the good news is that you won’t have to draw mechanisms on the ACS. However you WILL be asked questions regarding the mechanism, for example which is an intermediate of x reaction… so be sure to not only study each mechanism, but to also understand why and how each step occurs.

  26. Hi Leah… My final is Dec 15th, the same day as my genetics final, because, you know, why not!! (Genetics final is optional so that may not be a factor, hopefully) I believe mine is going to be 11 chapters, I have 32 days starting tomorrow. My last exam I got a 74, but the class average was a 53, so there’s hope for me still! The alkenes and alkynes are taking a toll on me right now though.

    • Why would anyone take an optional final? as for 11 chapters of 32 days, I think that’s more than doable. Be sure to give yourself ample time to learn and master each reaction prior to moving on

  27. Hello Leah!

    I absolutely LOVE your videos and I have already made my calendar outlining the days leading up to my final. It was really helpful, thank you!

    My Orgo 1 cumulative (Ch.1-14) is on August 6, which is exactly 1 month away from today. What worries me the most is that I have another exam before the final and the last 2 chapters: 13 & 14, we are covering right before the final. How do I prepare efficiently so I can ace both exams?

    • Leah4sci says:

      I would treat the next few weeks as if you’re preparing for the final and include chapters 13 and 14 in your final prep outline. Many students fall into the trap of preparing for the exam first THEN starting their final prep. BIG MISTAKE!

  28. My final is May 9th over 11 chapters. I also have finals in Sociology, Statistics, Immunology, Medical Spanish and a presentation for Leadership. I’m not worried at all about Sociology and the presentation is a group assignment so it won’t be as much as if it were just me. The thing that I am most worried about for OChem is application. I do significantly better on my free-response questions and not as great on multiple choice questions. I can draw and prove reactions but when I’m given problems involving words I choke. I suppose that I’m used to actually seeing the problems and can follow them out in my head but maybe I should attempt to draw out what the problem is asking and maybe that will help. I talked to my professor and he said that other students are having the same problem and we have 2 more tests and a retake until the final, he suggested drawing but I will find word problems to help me practice.

    • Leah4sci says:

      wordy problems can be tricky. They key is to 1- draw out the molecules mention and 2- ignore the extra words. Sometimes a question will give you too much information that is confusing instead of helpful.

  29. Hi Leah! My Bio exam is may 8th and my orgo I exam is may 12th….I really enjoyed this video, it def was a different approach to time management and I’m actually trying it out!!! For orgo i would say I’m most worried about silly mistakes and not enough practice!! My orgo I final is cumulative!

    • Leah4sci says:

      Thank you AC. Silly mistakes are very common when you’re in a panic. However, the more practice you do before the exam the more confident you’ll be and the more you’ll know to subconsciously look for mistakes. What are you using to practice and prepare?

      • So to go over material, I take his notes and watch videos on various reactions (Sn2, Sn1 etc) and then i try to understand his notes and then I do the hw, book problems and practice exam. I feel like my trouble his applying, I’m not sure how to apply. I have an exam this week on alkyne reactions and sn1,sn2,e1,e2 and alkyl bromination and free radicals I’m just not sure how to organize them!

  30. Hi
    my exams are in following date: 11/05/2015 biology , 12/05 biochemistry 14/05 physics
    19/05 maths and 21 /05 chemistry and i dont how to set a timetable like that. thank you

    • Wow Mariam, you have quite a few exams. You have to figure out how many hours you need to study for each topic and how many hours you have in your day. I would perhaps consider studying for each subject a few hours every other day. For example: Monday 2 hours each Biology, physics and chemistry, Tuesday 2.5 hours each biochemistry and math…

  31. Sarah Crouse says:

    I have Organic II exam May 5 covering Organic I and II. It’s a American Chemistry Exam final. Should I double up on the chapters? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Leah4sci says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by double up, but if you have fewer days and more chapters to cover then yes, absolutely. The goal is to create a calendar that lets you cover everything required in the time remaining

  32. Abigail says:

    Hi Leah, my organic I commutative final is 4 weeks (May 4th) from today and is covering 10 or 11 chapters depending on the next few weeks. The thing that worries me the most is that I have a physics final the same day. I know you mentioned to another person to do a double calendar, I don’t really know what you mean by that. Do we use 2 calendars or 1 calendar with both subjects? Also, how long should the break between the 2 subjects be?

    • Leah4sci says:

      Abigail: Do a single calendar for both but instead of just marking ‘chapter one, chapter two…’ analyze how much time you have for each day. Let’s say you have 5 hours to study. Break it up as follows: 2.25 hours organic chemistry, half hour break, 2.25 hours physics. Every calendar day should be split in 2 and have Orgo Ch # on top and Physics Ch # below. Does this help?

  33. Leah!! I am loving you right now. I have been so stressed at the thought of my Orgo Final, not only because it’s a final but because I have my physics final the SAME DAY. So naturally I am going to use this calendar for both courses. My exams are on the 14th of May. I am eagerly awaiting the other videos of this series because although I study a lot. I’m not sure if it’s always effective. And I would really love your advice for how to study for two huge exams on the same calendar!

    • Leah4sci says:

      Wow physics and orgo on the same day sounds ROUGH!! I recommend doing a double calendar. Block out time for physics, and separate time for orgo. Make sure you have a decent break in between the 2 subjects so that your brain can easily switch gears. May 14 is enough time if you start now!

  34. Melissa says:

    Wow this video is so motivating! My main weakness lately has been procrastination. I have a final exam in about 5 weeks and I will definitely be using this calendar. I am panicking a little less. 🙂 Thank you so much Leah I cannot wait for the next video!

  35. Katherine says:

    Thanks Leah, my exam is on may 13 but I still have one more exam before my final however because we had too many snow days I feel very insecure of this class the final exam is cumulative. Thanks again
    Att: Katherine

    • Leah4sci says:

      Katherine, since you have 2 exams, start planning your study calendar simultaneously. Don’t wait till after the next exam to start studying for finals. Instead try to alternate between new and old material. Not only will you make progress for your final but you’ll also find that you feel more solid with the upcoming exam material. Every advanced topic has a foundation in the beginner topics. Speaking of, which topics will be covered on your next exam?

      • Katherine says:

        We should be covering Organic Reactions Alcohols and Phenols. Ethers and Epoxides; Thiols and Sulfides. Carbonyl Compounds, Aldehydes and Ketones: Nucleophilic Addition Reactions.
        Thanks for the advice I will definitely do as you suggested.

  36. Thanks! My exam is at the end of April so I have around 3 weeks. Our exam will consist of 10 questions, multiple choice an free response and it is cumulative. What scares me most is not knowing what will be weighed more on the exam? We are covering 12 chapters but we just took our 3 exam which covered chapter 6, 7 and 8. Should I assume chapters 10,11and 12 will cover most of the exam?

    • Leah4sci says:

      Wow Clarisa for an exam in 3 weeks and 10 chapters you have the same schedule as Kathy (previous comment) Here’s what I recommend: Assume that every topic MUST BE KNOWN just in case you’re hit with a question on an old or new topic. You can’t risk missing even a single question when there are only 10 questions on the entire exam. However, since you just finished an exam on 6/7/8 spend fewer days on those topics since the material is still fresh in your mind. How does that sound?

  37. Jennifer says:

    I think this is awesome way to organize your exam study schedule. The one problem is that I have 3 other final exams to also worry about. Do you have any suggestions or tips for incorporating other subjects?


    • Leah4sci says:

      Do the same thing for every subject. Break apart every topic and then allot a given number of hours per day per topic. This will ensure you’re making daily progress in each subject while preventing yourself from having to cram and crash before each exam

  38. Thanks so much Leah for giving me some practical approaches to prepare for my final. I’ll definitely try these!!

    • Leah4sci says:

      Awesome! Glad to help Kay. What about your upcoming final has you most worried?

      • I have 6 weeks until my final. I was most worried about how I could even remember so much information but your calendar has given me a solid strategy. I just am still learning new concepts & still have 2 more exams before my final. I’m trying to recall the old information & keep up with the new. Any suggestions.
        Thanks Leah!

        • Leah4sci says:

          Keep up the good work Kay. The more you learn and practice the more familiar you will be with the material. As the reactions and concepts get more and more familiar you are less and less likely to forget. Also keep in mind that concepts build on each other. This means that every time you study a new concept and UNDERSTAND how it relates to something you’ve already covered, you’re essentially reviewing the old material as you learn

  39. Hi Leah, my exam is in 3 weeks so I stole your calender from the video – thank you!! Anyway, I am in Orgo 1 and my final will cover 10 chapters!!! I just can’t remember all the mechanisms. We were told that there will be one retrosynthesis problem which worries me also. Thanks for all the videos!! Kathy

    • Leah4sci says:

      Wow haha glad my calendar worked out for you, however with 10 chapters instead of 13 you get more time per chapter. Since mechanisms are your weakness perhaps build in a few extra days to work on just mechanisms. As you work through them keep asking yourself these question “WHY does this reactant attack as in why are these the electrons that reach out? Why does this molecule GET attacked? What about this molecule makes it want to accept electrons? As you start to understand the steps you’ll start to see patterns making them easier to memorize. Treat retrosynthesis the same way. More on this in video 2

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