T Nation

Organic Chemistry


#1

IS KILLING ME.

I'm a zoology senior in college.
It's taken me a bit longer than most people (5 1/2 years so far) because I transferred 3 times and switched my major. Still, I'm a decent student, hadn't failed a class in my whole college career, and even made the Dean's List once.
Then came organic chemistry.
Organic chemistry 1 & 2 are the last classes I have to take to graduate.
I've taken the first one and failed it THREE TIMES.
This summer I was planning on working my ass off and finishing it first semester (my school has 2 summer semesters), taking orgo 2 second semester and finally graduating in August.
Well I just took my final for orgo 1, and am almost certain I've failed it again. That's FOUR FUCKING TIMES.
This means, since they don't offer the first one in the second summer semester, that I have to spend another entire YEAR in school taking TWO fucking classes. Meanwhile, I'm out of financial aid, have no job, no place to live next year. It was all riding on this and now it's fucked.

I know I'm not a stupid guy, but I've never felt so fucking dumb in my entire life. All these other people in my class apparently can remember 50 goddamn mechanisms like it's their job, while I can't remember shit.
I've always excelled at English and had a tough time with math, but never have I experienced something that seems like my brain just isn't compatible with. I studied 3-4 hours/day, yet when I sit down for a test it's like I'm seeing it for the first time.

Not really looking for anything here, just venting.
Has anyone else had a bitch of a time with a subject?


#2

Formulas right?? Have you ever taken what you are reading and write it down. Copy it, word for word with a florecsent green marker. The entire chapter. 4 hours may not be long enough. You will retain 60-70% this way.
Then carry those papers everywhere you go. Now do this with problem areas 4-5 times.

Have one on the bathroom mirror, in your car, at the breakfast table, and in your back pocket. Oh and one under your pillow so you see it last thing at night. You see the process here. You never get a break from seeing this material.

You can also try something like the following: look at this "simple" formula used in respiratory.
O2 flow=Total flow x (O2% - 21) / 79.

Now in your mind it could look like this : Flo crossed (Otto less BABS) it's all over GILLIAN.

Flo = Flow

Otto=Oxygen

less = minus

Babs = 21 (A & B correspond to 1 thru 26)

"it's all over" = over or divided by

Gillian = 79 ( G & I corresponding to 7 & 9)

Give these things a try. It should be worth 70% or better.

Also try and get with the classmates that are passing and see what they are doing. No one is "smarter" than you.


#3

Sounds like you should talk to an adviser to see if you can substitute two classes instead of the Organic.

I also have a hard time believing that you are putting forth your entire effort into this class. There is no way that you are unable to learn all of the material after you have been in the class four times when most people learn it the first time.

If your college degree truly rides on you passing these classes, then you should pull your head out of your ass and just learn the material.


#4

This was my favorite class in college. I just graduated with a degree in Chemistry and in my final two years as an undergraduate I tutored Organic Chemistry for my college. It was a fun experience.

I'm sorry you don't like it; I always hated it when I would hear people saying that "Orgo" wasn't enjoyable. Perhaps you could think of the class as pictorial logic rather than science--try to see the art and flow of the mechanisms rather than blindly trying to memorize them.

Best,
Henry


#5

I hated mechanisms. Those are by far the worst thing I had to deal with in college.

Was not a fan of a lab either.

Synthesis problems were actually enjoyable to me. I liked those. They're just a big puzzle.

Naming was easy. I never understood why people had trouble with those questions.

Interpreting NMR was a bitch. Memorizing all of those tiny specific ranges that each different type of end group had was a pain in my ass.

Hang in there.

I got A's in both parts :slight_smile:


#6

i just took orgo 1 and 2 this past fall 08 and orgo 2 spring 09. i've come out of tests feeling the same way you're describing. at least all you've gotta do is pass the damn class, im pre-med so you either get an A or you feel like you failed. i hate the fucking scare tactics "you've pretty much gotta get an A in every fucking class or you're not competative" yea well what about football season, basketball season, AND FRIENDS?

but they were hard dude, there's no easy chem class. i've seen some multi-step synthesis questions where all you wanna write for your answer is "wow dude why are you such a dick?" and turn it in. at least you tried. does your school have the suicide orgo where its 1 and 2 in one semester?

but while i was taking orgo 2, i had intro to financial accounting. bombed the shit out of every test; it killed my psyche. it was an intro class... i did every book problem, went to every lecture, memorized every financial analysis ratio (close to 20; it was bs.) and still did horribly. it was killer because the material is insanely easy, the problems are addition and subtraction, everything makes sense.

EVERY lecture was like "no kidding idiot, i know how interest works" or "ok, we get it, 5 slides on different kinds of assets is more than enough" he made the lectures so worthless by dumbing it down so much, then he would make tests that were 10 q's too long, where every choice seemed right. oh and he had been tenure for 32 years at that point, so he wasn't very excited to teach that class for the 64th time.


#7

UF..Never be too smart to learn. Yes the lectures may seem uninteresting because you feel you understand
but the test is from the book. You have to read, even if its not discussed in class. This is where the
instructor realizes whether you truly grasp the concept or are just memorizing to pass the exam.


#8

Do you have to take both organic chemistry 1+2 in order to become a Pharmacist? because thats what im aiming for when it comes to carers.. I'm pretty good with regular chemistry and am taking phisics 1 honors my senior year along with a college math class


#9

I just took it and finished last week - 1st summer session. Got a B+. It's extremely tough, but you can do it. What exactly are you having trouble with - naming alkanes, alkenes, alkynes? Cyclic structures? Aromatics? Or is it the Mechanisms (by far the hardest part of the whole course)?

You need to know your functional groups cold! Also, studying for this should be pretty much an all day affair - 4 hours is obviously not enough....

I feel you man - chem in general is pretty tough - orgo takes it up a dozen notches or so - keep the faith, and keep working on it.

Have you considered a tutor?


#10

I have no experience with this particular class, but I agree with these general sentiments. First, 3-4 hours a day is fairly heavy, but it's not too crazy. Also, the quality of the study time is really important. 3-4 hours a day of simply reading the book and reviewing notes is really worthless. You have to somehow work with the material, do extra homework problems or the sort of stuff winkroar described. If you don't do that sort of stuff, you really will blank on the test.

I deal with stuff like this in tutoring for math classes and whatnot. People tell me they've studied a lot, but when I ask what they've been doing it's just a bunch of reading. I always tell them they actually have to engage the material and work through problems, do extra work, etc.


#11

^x2


#12

QFT

day 1: Photocopy all the problems, now, pull out some blank paper and do them all... grade them (get profs help if required)... learn / see what you did wrong...

day 2: do problems again... grade them... riducle yourself for getting the same stuff wrong and understand why you got it wrong dont just be like "damn im retarded"....

day 3: repeat... if you are still getting stuff wrong, hire tutor and follow same process...

I have had numerous friends struggle with classes, this is by far the best way to learn it... DO PROBLEMS... when I get ready for a test as a PhD student, I start a week in advance and do every problem from every chapter covered until I can do them by just looking at the chapter number and problem number... at this point, you will be able to do 80-90% of any test and instructer will throw at you...


#13

I fucking suck at all math and sciences. My way around this? Take adderall. It is the cure all drug for academic woes.

I had D's in both my math and science course before the spring finals. Spent a week hopped up on adderall and aced the tests and I came out with B's and A's.

I am a firm believer in using all options available to you to succeed (other than cheating), if that means you need to pop some pills or snort some coke...who cares. Do what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals.

Good luck man.

And please....no nerd get on my back b/c I use a drug to help me study.


#14

This, read through this.

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I can personally tell you some of these drugs make a difference.


#15

Speaking of zoology...
Right now I'm on the verge of my sophomore year of college and I'm taking a Principles of Bio summer course (basically intro bio for science majors). There's this woman in my class who is constantly bringing up the fact that "I have my zoology degree," "well, writing a lab report is easy, I have my ZOOLOGY degree," etc...
Now I've been wondering, how is it possible to get your zoology degree without having ever taken INTRO biology?
Obviously since you're taking O Chem you must have taken intro bio at some point, right?


#16

Maybe the finals where written to be easier to help bring up students grades, maybe the professor applied a curve at the end, maybe the classes weren't that hard to begin with... I have a hard time believing though that you went from D's to ace'ing your finals just from studying a ton the week before. I've tutored way to much to believe this.

I'm not trying to be a jackass either... I just don't want your average HS/college student getting the idea that studying a ton for the finals at the end will magically make up for a semester or year of not studying. It may work like this in easy classes, but it certainly doesn't in real math and science classes.


#17

I also suggest working and solving some problems everyday. Do the text book problems or see if you can get an old quiz from your professor or look on the internet for some problems. Just work on applying and understanding everyday. Reading alone doesn't always cut it.

Also, if there are particular areas you are struggling with, look for a different source to supplement your textbooks and lectures. Look at a different textbook or study guide or read articles online. Some people don't like Wikipedia, but truthfully it has some very good math and science articles.

It seems to me there must be something specific that needs to be addressed here. If you're a senior and failed the same class four times. there's something more than just not getting it.


#18

I had a similar experience with discrete math (3xx level) and ring theory (3xx) level. What I did could be applied to any class that you have trouble in. Basically, you have to immerse yourself in the subject and TRY to be really engaged with the entire course. Read the book from front to back, do ALL of the problems in the book, attempt the ridiculously tough problems, and DO NOT rely on rote learning.

I took organic chem in my 2nd year and found that memorization is not enough, you gotta understand why certain processes happen the way they do. This way if you are given a compound you haven't really heard of, you can get a general idea of what it's going to do.


#19

You have to approach Organic Chemistry much differently than any other science course you've taken. Brute force is not enough to do well (if your professor is worth his salt).

You must boil Orgo down to its bare essentials, and stop making it out to be an untamable monster. Treat it as a quirky challenge rather than an obstacle.

A few things that seem to help people:
1) Focus on the electrons. If you know how the electrons move, you do will do well in Organic Chemistry. People who concentrate on something as simple as the octet rule seem to have very few problems. Just ask yourself: does this step in my mechanism move me closer to my final product whilst not violating any rules? The answer to BOTH parts of the question must be in the affirmative. If not, your answer is wrong.

2) Learn to think backwards. A synthesis problem is simply too intimidating to do if you do it forwards. Think about how you would make certain portions of your final molecule, and build up to it piece-meal, backwards.

3) RELAX. Your professor will never ask you to invent/discover a new reaction during an exam.

Best,
Henry


#20

Dude, mechanisms are not hard. All you need is a large whiteboard and a study partner if you can find a good one. Then make flash cards of all the possible mechanisms you need and drill each other on em by having the other person draw it out, step by step. I took the more challenging of the orgo series (split into three terms to allow for more depth) and I did quite well despite not studying until the week of each test (retention of the material is another issue completely though haha).