09 Jul 7 Tips for Surviving Organic Chemistry
7 Tips for Surviving Organic Chemistry
Try as you might, but there is no denying the fact that organic chemistry is robust
It is omnipresent – from the first cup of coffee to the last iota of the night cream you might or might not use over your delicate skin. The point is it indeed is everywhere, and there’s simply a lot to learn. One profound characteristic of organic chemistry is you cannot mislead your comprehensive prowess. And there is no chance for you to apply strong-arm tactics over this segment of natural science. There are just too many materials to cover. Even if you are perfectly willing to let go of eating, sleeping, or even hanging out with your friends, organic chemistry is a tough nut to crack.
But please don’t throw the towels just yet. People who walked the same path before you didn’t and you shouldn’t either. First, just make sure not to drive yourself crazy. Then develop your ‘chemical intuition,’ start thinking smart, and as an appetizer for the main courses ahead, go through my seven tips for surviving organic chemistry thoroughly:
1. Start Afresh
Even for brilliant students, organic chemistry is rigorous. See my choice of word? – It’s harsh, but not impossible. Many thousands from your native land completed the course successfully, so why would you be any different?
You wouldn’t if you do things right. First, change your mental stance. Think it through about what you know and what you don’t.
Find out if you have a clear and concise understanding of the core functional groups. Can you explain how they fit together? How about the basic principles that move the coursework ahead? How secure is your knowledge about them? Are you comfortable in using them in the problems programmed in the primary texts or in the additional supplementary documents that are inclusive in the specified text list? What about the issues designed in the study materials you have collected from different sources?
You get the idea. So start again by your very own, personal performance assessment by replicating skepticism over your subject-knowledge regarding organic chemistry.
It is almost a probabilistic certainty that you wouldn’t come out unscathed.
So, start rebuilding your knowledge-based anew. Take a step back, think everything through about what you can or can’t do, and do or don’t know and start accordingly. Look closely at your syllabus, figure out the holes that are needed to fill out. Most of the time that is the best starting place you will ever get.
And be rest assured that help is around. In Singapore, the private tuition industry has achieved global standards, and you can obtain real and professional support from a chemistry tutor or a chemistry tuition center.
2.Get Yourself Acquainted With The Blocks That Build The Subject:
It doesn’t matter how brilliant you consider yourself, simple memorization of the correct names and shapes of the primary compounds will get you that closer! In other words, know the elements over which the foundation of organic chemistry is built.
So draw out examples of ketones, esters, aldehydes, alcohols, etc. as much as you can. Also, learn the basic structure of frequently used acids, bases, oxidizers, reducing agents, etc. The simple truth is structures render properties to metals, which in turn tells us about the reactions whether they are going to take part or not in it. You would be amazed to find out how these simple practices will help you get to know the bigger picture.
After that apparent ambiguous first step is completed, start memorizing some basic principles. Don’t be too hung up on realizing what you are cramming. One problematic aspect of organic chemistry is many ideas are plausibly counterintuitive. You simply can’t plot your understanding in a linear graph.
Again there are long, winding words challenging to associate. Be innovative and think of things like mnemonics, lyrics, flashcards, or something you attached with to relate with the most frequented compounds.
All the above practices will make you familiar with the blocks that build organic chemistry.
3. Let ‘Kiasu’ – The Fear Factor’ Get To You:
Let me tell you about the ‘Triage Principal’ the doctor’s use in emergency rooms. It goes like this – the person with a stabbing wound gets the treatment first at the expense of the patient with a headache. This happens when available resources are scarce.
The organic chemistry course taught in Junior College or any undergraduate program anywhere around the globe is probably the fastest-paced course. The textbooks are voluminous and supposed to be covered in two semesters. So, if you lag, you probably won’t catch up – ever. In an ideal world – which seems to be the belief of the professors that you inhibit – the course is programmed in perfect symmetry with the available time you have. In the real world – where the students live – there are family or medical emergencies, other classes, part-time jobs, etc., which all seem to have only one aim and that is to prevent you from studying organic chemistry.
I know – as a Singaporean born and brought up, your brain is already programmed against lagging behind. But this is high time you reprogram your mind with ‘Kiasu’ all over again. One way of staying a step ahead of ‘Kiasu’ is to make sure you make the best use of the regressing resource you have –the time. So, deactivate all your social media accounts and destroy friendships. You are not going to attend any more parties or hang out with friends – at least for the time being. Make a promise to yourself to never miss a class, never miss a day to study organic chemistry, and never waste your time unless and otherwise, you can avoid that. Whenever an evil opportunity looms to make your life a bit breathable, let ‘Kiasu’ rise and be miserable again.
4. Problems, Problems, Problems – Work Them:
If you look at the subheading, you will see that I have written ‘problems’ three times – only to emphasize its undying importance.
Let’s get it out of the way first – if you don’t do enough problems, you will never get a good grade. It’s merely impossible to master organic chemistry without solving problems. Many students, like yours truly, like to do the issues with the help of the answer guide. It’s like when I got stuck; I decided to have only one look. When I saw it, it didn’t strike me as overly critical, and I used to determine that it’s enough to just skim the problems without actually solving them on paper. So I can tell you this with confidence that that’s not the way to solve the issues. Do it in the old fashioned way, with an honest endeavor. Do all the problems that you literally can find. Do the problems from the main text, from the supplementary documents, from the study materials you’ve collected, from the previous year’s exams – you get the idea. Find them all and deal with them honestly.
You shouldn’t have any more friends up until now. But you need to revive a few friendships, only those with whom you would be doing chemistry problems. It is proven that working the problems in group settings actually has a lot of benefits. Just beware about not making the group study session a social gathering you had been missing.
5. Attend The Classes And Make Every Second Worth It:
Restrain that bemoaning. I know it isn’t the secret formula that you have been looking for since you have started reading the article. But the truth is, it is one of a kind.
The same topic can be taught differently by two professors. Similarly, that same topic might create an enormous headache when you try it on your own, but surprise, surprise – it makes perfect sense when the instructor defines it to you. That’s why going to classes is indeed an excellent way to study the subject. It is a well-known fact that your professor can do a hell of a lot better in explaining organic chemistry than the textbooks you have.
Again, some professors can’t think without nomenclature, while others can’t be bothered about it as long as you get the basics right. I can go on giving a lot of examples like this. The point I am trying to make here is if you are a regular fixture, you will have these intricate details, which will give away ideas about what it is going to be in the actual exam.
The last significant bit about going to classes is that you should spend some time studying the topics that are going to be taught in the class. If you have a general overview of that, you will know what to expect, what will be challenging to grasp, what to ask, and most importantly, you will see what you have to understand. All of those little tidbits about the topic will enable you to grasp the subject-matter way better if you go unprepared.
6. Go For All The Help You Can Get:
Corona pandemic, notwithstanding, teachers have regular office schedules. Then there are the teaching assistants as well who are getting paid from the tuition you paid. The truth is you can contact them whenever you want to get help.
And as a Singaporean, you probably will employ a professional chemistry tutor or get yourself admitted to a tuition providing center. These private means are custom-made to help you in any way they can.
All of these signify a plethora of ways for you to get help whenever you are stuck.
So, use everything at your disposal and get the grade you deserve.
7. Be A Teacher Yourself:
You probably know the adage – you need to understand something properly if you want to teach that to someone else.
My advice to you is this – practice your newfound wisdom over to the members of your family. Try to make sense of Alkynes to your mom. If she seems to be uninterested, try your little sister. But you might physically get assaulted by the little one. Instead of getting disheartened, try other members like the pet species in your home. Or better yet, try anyone who wants to listen to you explaining chemical bonds.
The truth is, the more you try making someone else understand something, the better it will be more apparent to yourself.
There you go—my 7 tips about how you are going to survive organic chemistry. If you like it and find them helpful, my work will be rewarded. And if you find them worthless, please let me know how I can be of service next time.