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How to Study For Organic Chemistry

Updated on November 10, 2010

Organic chemistry is not an easy subject. Although it was my favorite subject in school, it was the hardest one I ever took. The problems that arise from organic chemistry are that the course really takes everything up a notch. I am hoping to give you some insights on how you can make organic chemistry slightly easier for you.

1. Organic chemistry is a new language. You are not simply learning reactions, or where to draw electrons, you are going to be learning a whole new language, with new concepts and terms. You need to always keep this in mind. Use the new terms you learn in all of your writings.

2. When you are trying to memorize reactions, you will want to make flash cards. These are cards you want to review on a daily basis. Organic chemistry constantly builds on things you previously learned so, you will always want to refer back to things you learned at the beginning of your course because, the information will keep coming up again and again.

3. For mechanisms, you will want to make flash cards for them as well. Be sure to make special note of why electrons move where they do. You need to not just memorize the mechanism but, know why it works the way it does. This is going to take time so, you need to devote your time to learning it.

4. In lab, make sure you do a thorough review of the lab. Know exactly what equipment you need, make a chart or a list of some kind that will allow you to keep everything organized. You want to make sure you have everything in front of you so, you aren't hunting for it last minute. Labs usually take a lot of time to complete and, you will only be allotted so much time so, you need to make sure that you are organizing your time well. The more you can prepare, the better off you will be.

5. Work carefully. Yes, it will seem that you may need to rush things but, try not to do this. It's much better to work methodically at a calm pace and complete your experiment correctly, then it is to try and rush something, mess it up, and have to start over again. There's nothing more frustrating than to have this happen. Then, you end up getting far behind. Again, work carefully.

6. Make flash cards to learn nomenclature. Depending on what your instructor asks, you may have to just memorize the common names but, with the others, there is logic to the naming. Once you figure it out, it will be very easy so, try not to stress over it. Just understand the overall rules to naming.

7. Ask questions. Make sure that if you do not understand, you write it down and, ask your instructor. Be specific. Try to focus on what it is about the concept that you do not understand.

8. Do your homework. You may need to do problems several times. Practice, practice, practice, and practice. Organic chemistry is not going to come easy. There are a few people that do understand it rather quickly but, some the smartest people I knew spent hours upon hours devoting themselves to studying. That's just the way it is. It's hard work but, once you have the material "click" for you, it will become easier.

Remember, also to have some passion with organic chemistry. It can actually be quite fun! You just have to look at it like a big logic problem. You will learn a lot of interesting things and concepts. Stay positive and remember to focus on the tasks at hand.


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    • mbyL profile image

      Slaven Cvijetic 

      6 years ago from Switzerland, Zurich

      nice tips for studying organic chemistry! I wrote an exam on organic chemistry some weeks ago and will have my chemistry finals soon. Should I encounter any problems with this I will gladly come back to your hub, but it has turned out for me to be quite easy to learn. anyway, shared useful and up!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I major in Chemistry, and this is cool!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      8 years ago

      I enjoyed it and found it very helpful advice.I love the line practice,practice,practice and more practice.It is so true.


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