Surviving Organic Chemistry: Study and Exam Tips

By: Karina Tama

Organic chemistry is one tough subject to pass. It can be too complicated and covers a lot of areas and touches on many things. There are too many things to learn. You can’t simply fake it until you make it. It’s not something you can learn overnight or a few days. A semester is not even enough.

This does not, however, mean that you can’t survive organic chemistry. With great study habits and some study and exam tips, you will make it through and even ace the subject:

1.Have a positive mindset.

Know that you are not alone. Even excellent students struggle with Organic Chemistry. This does not mean that it’s impossible to pass. There are many things you can do. With proper strategy, hard work, and resources, you’ll pass. Start by having a positive mindset.

2. Use plenty of resources.

Go beyond the lectures and resources given by your teacher. Don’t limit yourself to just one source. Since Organic Chemistry is quite a broad subject, use other sources. You can study with a chemistry guide online.

3. Visualize and memorize.

Visualizing basic compounds will help you memorize them. Draw out examples of aldehydes, esters, alcohols, and ketones, among others. Memorize the common acids, oxidizers, reducing agents, and bases. Try the different memorizing techniques like flashcards and mnemonics, and choose what works for you.

4. Create a personalized story to explain basic principles.

This tip may seem silly, but it actually works. Just use your imagination and be creative. Creating a story can help you better understand the principles. Rather than learning principles in pieces, try to find ways to connect them and understand them as a whole.

5. Do problems.

The best way to understand formulas and principles is to do problems, lots of problems. Solve the problems given to you by your professor. You don’t need to answer all the problems correctly on the first try. Just get the hang of it until it will just come naturally. Draw electron diagrams, orbitals, structures, as well as isomers and functional groups of molecules.

6. Make mind maps to see the Matrix.

Functional groups and basic reactions, like other things in organic chemistry, are interconnected. Try to piece things together and get familiar with byproducts and reagents. When you begin to see the connections, you will understand the individual compounds better. When you spot patterns and codes, you begin to see the bigger picture.

7. Teach what you’ve learned to others.

Teaching is also a way of learning. When you discuss to others what you’ve learned or what you’ve read, you will understand things better. You can discuss concepts to your friends or family. You can even talk to your pet. When you explain things to others, you are also explaining it to yourself. Hence, you will retain things more efficiently.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just be strategic about your study time and habits. Have faith in yourself and just do everything that you can. You will survive Organic Chemistry. Claim it.

This Article was written in collaboration with Chemistry Coach, a student help website with study guides, practice tests and much more on Organic Chemistry and General Chemistry. Find their study guides and support their content here.

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