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How to Study Organic Chemistry Effectively

The number one way to study organic chemistry is by doing practice problems. Problems are what you will see on tests and quizzes and they are how you prove your understanding. The more problems you do, the better your understanding will be. Once you have mastered one concept, move on to problems that are more difficult.



Do practice problems.

The number one way to study organic chemistry is by doing practice problems. Problems are what you will see on tests and quizzes and they are how you prove your understanding. The more problems you do, the better your understanding will be. Once you have mastered one concept, move on to problems that are more difficult.

Actively review your notes and textbook.

Reading through your notes is definitely a good place to start, but actively reviewing your notes is even better. Rewrite your notes and summarize the material. Draw concept maps or visual summaries to illustrate how everything works together.

Ask for help.

Your professor and teaching assistants will have office hours that are specifically available for students to ask questions and get help with the material. Take advantage of this time and actually go ask for assistance. They are there to help you learn and this is an opportunity to ask questions you might have been afraid to ask in class.

Number your carbons.

When answering questions in homework or on an exam, it is easy to lose track of the number of carbons. The number of carbons in the products should always equal the number of carbons in the reactants.

Recognize the relationships between properties.

Organic chemistry relies heavily on understanding how different molecules relate to each other. While there is rote memorization involved, it is much more important that you understand these basic interactions to succeed in organic chemistry. Understanding the reason behind why these trends exist is also important. To name a few examples:

Use the modeling kits.

Modeling kits allow you build chemical structures in three dimensions. Being able to visualize the structure can help you understand a compound better than just looking at the 2D version written on the board.

Use reaction maps for synthesis problems.

Reaction maps allow you to visualize all of the functional groups and the reactions that occur to produce them. You can use the reaction maps to string together reactions to get from one compound to the final compound.

Make flash cards.

Organic chemistry is all about learning chemical structures and reactions. There is also a lot of vocabulary that is specific to the subject. It is very difficult to understand the material if you don’t know what all of the words mean. Use flash cards to help you learn the vocabulary.

Form a study group.

Study groups are a great way to check your understanding and gain new insight into the material. When explaining a concept to others, you may realize that there is something you were missing. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the material itself. At the same time, other members of the group can help you learn concepts that are difficult for you.

Write in pen.

When using a pencil, it is easy to just write everything down, erase, and then keep writing more. When you use a pen, you have to think through the material critically before writing anything down to avoid having to scribble things out.

Study every day.

Studying for an hour or two each day is a much better use of your time than trying to study for 5 hours all at once. With smaller, more frequent study sessions, you can focus on individual concepts and not burn yourself out trying to cram all of the information into your brain at once.

Attend class.

This may seem obvious, but a lot of effort put into learning material is just about showing up to class. Paying attention in class and taking relevant notes is also necessary. Be strategic about note-taking. Don’t take notes just to take notes. Listen to what the professor is saying and then summarize the information in your notes.

Get proper <a href="/Sleep-Better" title="Sleep Better">sleep</a>, <a href="/Exercise" title="Exercise">exercise</a>, and <a href="/Eat-Healthy" title="Eat Healthy">nutrition</a>.

The key to success when studying any subject is to maintain your health.

Set up a good <a href="/Make-a-Study-Space" title="Make a Study Space">study space</a>.

Choose a study space that works best for you. Do you get more done when there’s absolute silence or when there’s a little bit of background noise? A good study space has plenty of lighting, is a comfortable temperature, has minimal distractions, and is comfortable, but not too comfortable.

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