In this page, I would like to share with you some tips in studying organic chemistry that I found really useful. I will update more when I remember more things.
The first three tips that I want to share are:
1. Draw draw draw draw
2. Draw draw draw draw
3. Draw draw draw draw
I really can’t emphasise this enough. DRAW! Just draw everything!
I’ve come to realise that the number one mistake that students always do when studying organic chemistry is not drawing anything. They only listen to what the lecturers say or read things written in the textbook.
Organic chemistry is like a piano, the more you practice drawing reaction mechanisms, the more you get the idea and intuition how a mechanism may take place. Once you’re used to it, your hand will intuitively know what to do next.
This is really true, you can try this when you’re learning about nucleophilic addition to carbonyl compounds. You’ll find that the first steps of the mechanisms are always similar, if not the same, no matter what the carbonyl compound is: aldehyde, ketone, carboxylic acid, or ester.
Only reading and imagining the mechanism in your head will not help you understand. You’ll understand what happens when you read it, but then when you actually do the thing on your own, you’ll get confused. Trust me, you don’t want to get confused in the middle of an exam. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’m speaking from my very own experience.
So again, draw draw draw draw! When you learn a topic on this site, redraw whatever molecules or mechanisms that you saw.
4. Practice (obviously)
Some students may say that they haven’t got anything to practice with. They haven’t got the textbook for one reason or another. If you need books to practice, go to the library and borrow some. Otherwise, make up your own practice problem.
One thing that’s really good about organic chemistry is that you can make up molecules or reactions on your own and practice doing the mechanism. Of course, you won’t know if your answer is right or wrong, but if you follow a known example, then the process will be the same. What you gain from this is that you and your hand are used to writing down mechanisms, and that is a good thing.
Finally, you can virtually find everything you need on the internet and that is where you should go looking if you need some practice problems.
I do have a plan to make another website that complements this website where I post practice problems and answers. However, I have just started this website and there’s still lots of work to be done, so I probably won’t be making that other website in the near future.