Organic Chemistry Pre-Finals Video 2

In Video 1 we discussed the Backwards Calendar. But how do you ensure that what you study ‘sticks’? This and more in the video below.

After leaving your feedback in the comments below, visit my Organic Chemistry Resource Page to pick up a book or two for extra practice questions.

Video 3 to follow shortly via email

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  1. I am having trouble with mass spec, ir spec and nmr.

    • Melanie: Does your professor require you to memorize values? If so have you tried studying multiple graphs to ensure you recognize what each value should LOOK like? I find this really helps bring numbers to life as structures when solving spec

  2. Hey Leah, my name is Stephen and I had a quick question. I have my 4th organic 1 exam next Wednesday and it is over SN1 E1 SN2 E2 and different alkene mechanisms. I was wondering what do you think is the best strategy considering the short amount of days that I have left to prepare for my exam? Also, the exam will mainly be over the different alkene mechanisms and not as much on the others since we already had a whole exam over those mechanisms. Thanks!

    • Stephen: The approach for a ‘soon’ exam is the same as what I teach in video 1 for finals. Break it up on your calendar so you have your time split between learning, review and practice

  3. I’m am having the worst time with deriving structures from ir,and nmr. I just can’t seem to put them together correctly !!

    • Kim: The trick here is less about memorization of values and more about really knowing how functional groups will appear on the graph. Learn this by studying graphs for each group rather than memorizing the numbers. Then work on putting the puzzle pieces together.

  4. Tinashe Tommy Mapuranga says

    Ey thanks for this video. I will try to apply the tricks.. My last mid-term is tomorrow…Good luck to me..

  5. Leah could you please give me some advice on studying and memorizing biochemistry. I am a biochemistry major and I’m having a really tough time with my study habits. I just can’t seem to find a way to retain the things that I memorized in the exam. In addition, sometimes it takes me way too long to memorize all the information and I get frustrated and give up. My grades are headed downhill and I desperately want to find a way to get better at learning biochemistry, which requires mostly memorization.

    • Leah4sci says

      The orgo studying techniques work for biochemistry as well. Learn, understand, do practice, repeat, repeat, repeat

  6. Mohanad Alotaibi says

    Reactions just reactions , sure i know the concept but i dont know i think i have trouble identifying which is going to attack which , which is going to attach with , which product will form , there so many reagent which one is the best to use with this reaction especially if the the my teacher want a definite product

    • Reagents can get overwhelming when you memorize them all. Here’s a video that will help:

      • I have a problems with reactants like different chemical reactions combustion hydrolysis addition of h2

        • I’m not following. Why do you have problems with reactants Sheila? Is it about knowing what they do, recognizing them? What specifically is your issue?

  7. Claude Bonnet says

    I think one of that hardest things is understanding the steriochemistry of certain reactions and why they change in a form.

    • Yes and no Claude. The key is to understand WHAT happens in the mechanism to keep or change the chiral configuration. Don’t just memorize, understand the why behind it

  8. I’m struggling with getting reaction mechanisms and multi step synthesis reactions. I have been using flash cards and am going to try the potty posters suggested in the last video.

    • awesome! with mechanisms you definitely have to draw them out. So in addition to the flaschards and other tricks, make sure you are writing and rewriting, and understanding every step of the way

  9. Hey Leah! I would say my issue is little details (for ex. the arrows) and stereochemistry (like how to create a meso compound). Also, I’m having trouble with how to understand…I’m not sure what to do to make myself understand…I’m not sure what types of questions to ask. My exam is in 2 weeks and finals start the week later and I’m more concerned with time.

    • Leah4sci says

      I’d recommend ensuring that you master the little details through learning, review, and then practice to ensure you really get it. 2 weeks should be enough if you work on it consistently

  10. LeAh, I still lack confidence when doing acid/base chemistry. I understand that this is the first step in any reaction but still find myself questioning if a base can deprotonate the given acid? Do you have any suggestions to help me? Please let me know. Thanks, Kay

    • Leah4sci says

      Kay I recommend going back to basics and studying acids/bases at the simplest level at Once mastered move on to more difficult questions and figure out WHICH SPECIFIC ASPECT is giving you trouble, then go back and review each one till you’ve mastered it

  11. Hey Leah, I have the most trouble figuring out the order of reactivity in complex synthesis. My prof gives us problems that have 6-8 steps and I get hung up on the exams figuring out which steps to take when – this wastes too much time. Do you have any tricks?

    • Leah4sci says

      Deborah alas this comes from pattern recognition which comes from practice. Try to find as many practice problems that follow your professor’s style and just keep working working working on them.

  12. I have trouble with reagents and what different reagents actually do to a molecule and when I should use them.

    • The key with reagents is to understand how they work and what they do, this way you’re not just memorizing you’re understanding. I recommend watching the video of an old ‘memorizing reagents’ workshop here:

  13. Hi Leah, I struggle with two things: the first one is figurine out the prediction products and the second is designing a reasonable synthesis when the starting and the ending is given and I have to come up with the reagents.

    • Leah4sci says

      Coming up with the correct product requires an understanding rather than memorization of reagents. As you work through reactions keep asking yourself ‘but why does this reagent give me this type of product?’. As you get more comfortable with the nature of the reactions you’ll find that it becomes easier to not only predict products, but also work through these reactions in multi-step synthesis

  14. Hi Leah, I have a hard time with oxidation and reduction. I seem to be memorizing the multiple ways to oxidize and reduce. Then I forget them. I am not getting the big picture. How do I get this permanently in my head?? Thanks, Ruth

    • Ruth, this is a common issue. But just to clarify, do you mean the concept of the reaction, as in what does what, or the mechanisms?

      • Both!

        • Ruth: Let’s start with the mechanism because that’s trickier. When you practice a mechanism make sure you understand why each step happens. Don’t memorize, RECOGNIZE. Why do these electrons attack? Why is it THIS atom that gets attacked? Finding the overall pattern. Once you have the mechanism look for conceptual patterns in the reagents. What is common among oxidizing reagents? They all have oxygen! They add oxygen bonds. Write out a series of reactions to get familiar utilizing the reagents. Then test yourself on them. I recommend you watch the workhp video I did on reagents here:

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