Organic Chemistry is one of the more difficult undergrad courses you’ll face. Notorious for it’s low class averages and high withdrawal rates, this course can impact your GPA negatively if you are not prepared.
With your Orgo 1 or 2 course just around the corner, don’t risk starting the semester unprepared. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you may fail and have to endure the expense of retaking the course.
For a specific list of what to study when, given how much time you have till your semester begins, check out my Organic Chemistry Preview Study Guide
Instead, use the time between now and your upcoming course to prepare and pre-learn the material.
Yes you’ll wind up going through everything twice,
but on YOUR OWN TERMS!
How do you prepare for the upcoming course?
- Become as familiar as possible with the curriculum
- watch tutorial videos
- read your textbook
- work on practice problems
- find EVEN MORE problems to practice
Given the level of difficulty, you cannot and should not attempt to cram.
You can’t cram during your orgo semester, and you certainly cannot cram for it in preparation for your upcoming semester.
Remember: Organic chemistry is about understanding rather than memorization.
Especially when it comes to reactions and mechanisms.
- You have to work through each reaction mechanism slowly to ensure you understand EXACTLY what is going on.
- Why do these electrons move to attack?
- Why does this particular atom get attacked?
- What does the intermediate look like?
- What attacks the intermediate?
- What’s the purpose of this reaction?
and so on…
While it may appear that your current break will go on forever, it’ll be over before you know it.
You absolutely cannot wait till the last minute to start preparing for your organic chemistry course, and you certainly cannot afford to show up to class on day 1 expecting to learn the material for the first time.
So How Do You Prepare?
Your goal is to set up a realistic study schedule breaking down the required material into bite-sized chunks. Learn a little bit each day, mull it over, and learn some more the following day.
With this method you won’t find yourself overwhelmed and you’ll still see measurable progress on a weekly basis.
So how do you create a balanced schedule that allows you to learn the material but ALSO gives you time for everything else in life? Take a minute to watch this video first.
As an orgo tutor, my students often ask me to help them come up with a study schedule to map out a realistic timeline. I’ve decided to include a few samples here to help you create your own.
Remember, these are samples, you need to compare my calendar to your schedule taking into account work/school/life/holidays… and adjust accordingly.
Students preparing for Orgo 1
If you’re preparing for Orgo 1 your goal is to get through ALL of orgo 1 in time for classes to begin. If you have just 1-2 weeks till classes begin try to at least cover the material required for your first exam and then proceed to stay ahead of your syllabus all semester.
Students Preparing for Orgo 2
If you’re preparing for Orgo 2 then you must create a schedule that allows you to do both.
- Review organic chemistry 1
- Preview organic chemistry 2
Many orgo 2 students don’t realize this, but orgo 2 is simply orgo 1 on steroids. You will encounter the very same reactions, concepts, and mechanisms, but taking to a higher level.
The reactions will be the same, but more complex, the mechanisms will follow the same logic, but have more steps, and the reagents will be greater in number and complexity.
Students Reviewing ALL of organic chemistry for Exams
If you’re already taken organic chemistry but require a crash course in preparation for your upcoming MCAT / PCAT / DAT… then you need to devote equal time to reviewing both organic chemistry 1 and 2.
Where do you find concise review materials?
- Have time and want hard-core step by step review? Join the Organic Chemistry Study Hall for semester-paced in depth tutorial + practice videos
- Have some more time? Check out my
- Really low on time? I recommend the Organic Chemistry Bootcamp Crash Course meant to be consumed in 3-5 days per orgo semester.
Let’s take a look at 3 sample calendars:
- 2 weeks remain till your organic chemistry 1 course (preview early material)
- 2 weeks remain till your organic chemistry 2 course (preview early material)
- 8 weeks remain until your organic chemistry 2 course. (if you’re about to start orgo 1 simply follow the first 3 weeks but give yourself 2-3 days per day for the orgo 1 material to allow for learning and practice)
2 Week Calendar for Orgo 1
2 Week Calendar for Orgo 2
8 Week Calendar for Orgo 2
Schedule doesn't match up perfectly?
That's ok, these are just sample calendars to give you an idea of how to break things up. You need to create a calendar listing YOUR number of weeks and YOUR study requirements.
Be sure to
- Watch “How to Prepare for Upcoming Semester”
- Read my new Organic Chemistry Preview Guide: What to Pre-Study for the Upcoming Semester
Created your calendar? Let me know in the comments below or tag me @leah4sci on instagram.
OMG… You are saving my life and… my grade. Thank you so much!
Glad to help, Chenel!
Hi Leah! I am currently in Orgo I and its killing me. I feel like I study as much as I can an I’m comfortable with the material ….. then come testing time and I completely bomb it. BUT, I’m not the only one in class so I don’t feel to “dumb”. I am actually putting in a request to drop it because I don’t want it to kill my GPA. However, I will still have to take it next semester. I look forward to your video and emails. Jess
Jess, I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you so much
You’re welcome, Ayoub!
Leah — Thanks for all the info! Great tips and help getting organized for Org Chem I. I’m an older guy going back for an additional degree, and I can use all the help I can get. ;^)
I’m very happy to help!
I just started orgo 1 yesterday . I don’t know where to start or how to read the table or do the formulas.Looking at your study guide makes a little sense to me.
I’ll be happy to guide you. I recommend starting with this: https://leah4sci.com/organic-chemistry-hypothetical-curriculum-syllabus-replacement/
Julia DeAngelo says
Thank you for the time you put into all the exceptional resources you provide us with!!!
Thanks Julia. Glad to help
anna k says
Yes that’s good planning for studying
I do find that your videos are very helpful
I was wondering if sometimes you can use more difficult examples such as longer molecules for Newman’s projections for instance
Of course you can use more difficult molecules
Chau Huynh says
we tried to decide whether we want to retake orgo 1 or go head take orgo 2.
How did your orgo 1 score turn out?
Chau Huynh says
It ‘s great idea!