Compressed Orgo during 1/2 term - good or bad?

Hi guys… well my first semester is a good 75% over and just gotta push hard for 1 more month.

Thus far things are going ok, but not stellar. I’m basically taking gen chem and bio and 1 more english class (which for some reason I didn’t accomplish my 1st academic tour years ago). I’m doing well in General Chem (~ A range based on exam, hw grades, quizzes, and labs). Bio is an intersting story lol, I’m acing the exams but not doing so well in bio-lab which can pull down my grade to possibly a B or B+ range. But it’s all in the air, since got 1 more month to go, and the situation could change.

I’m planning on getting the second course of the general chem sequence taken care off this summer 1/2 term. I was planning to also take care of the second bio course as well… but I heard bad things about the instructor who is going to teach it, so I’m backing off on that until the fall. Which leads me to my current dilemma.

The head Organic Chem professor mentioned that it’s possible he can sign a waiver to get me into orgo I this spring (even though I had only taken genchemI). Is this a good or bad idea? I know Orgo is supposed to be really difficult so I’m not sure how more difficult (or easy) it would be under a compressed 1/2 term schedule?

I just had this very conversation with some of my peers! Unlike you, I have already completed bio II, and am finishing up Gen Chem II now (final on the 16th, blech!). I very strongly considered taking Orgo over a compressed summer term (May to June at my uni), since it would speed up my application process by a whole year. However, I was advised by my current chem prof as well as a different chem prof (family friend) not to do so. Apparently the failure rate in this CTF format is very high…and the overall marks are low. My current gen chem marks are sitting around 93% now…but despite that, my prof said that it’s unlikely I would get higher than a B-!!!

Of course, that’s just at my university. I have heard on this site as well as in person here that Orgo is not to be taken lightly…I will be very interested in hearing what others have to say!

It would be pretty tough. You’d need to at least figure out how the Bio lab is going badly for you to make sure you understand your weak points and have corrected them before you challenge yourself with a 1/2-term Orgo. The thing about O-chem is that you have to think geometrically, digest a LOT of new concepts, do a lot of memorization, and sort of digest, organize, and apply all that new knowledge. I think it requires a lot of study time AND general sleep time outside of class to do that effectively.

I agree with Denise. I think orgo is something that would have been very hard for me to understand “under pressure.” It took a LOT of repetition for the concepts to gel in my mind.

Also, getting whatever kinks you’ve experienced in bio lab worked out is key. Orgo labs are not for the faint of heart. There is a LOT to work through – that much more pressure in a compressed term.

Finally, the concepts you learn in o-chem are actually important. While I can no longer explain a Diels-Alder reaction to you, there are a lot of organic concepts that will be referred to again and again as you go through medical school. All in all, I think it’s better to take your time and do it right.


Let me echo the advice from those before me - I personally feel that taking a compressed orgo sequence is not a good idea. The concepts are important & you will use them extensively - so they merit an investment of time & effort. Furthermore, while you might save a year - what is a year anyway - you have a much higher probability of landing a lower grade than you would have in a regular term. Will such a trade off for expedience (impatience) really improve your application? I seriously doubt it.

Risk vs reward

Is the risk worth it? If you are not able to pull a high grade out of this how will you recover? If you do well then you’re golden. If you do poorly then you have proved to medical schools that you can not handle their curriculum.

The older I get the more I err on the side of caution.

I have a few friends who are going to take Physics 1 & 2 over the summer then take the MCAT. They are basically taking a two 16 week courses in 12 weeks total…then the MCAT. Not bad if you’re a full time student but they have fulltime jobs. One I don’t think will have trouble…the other I’m not too sure about.

I was thinking about it as well. I posted here and got some advice. I then contacted a former student or three and received the same advice. In my younger days I would’ve taken the advice as a challenge and then done my own thing. Now I listen and think and then choose.

Not saying you aren’t thinking but not sure if you’re thinking things as thoroughly as you should. This is a winner takes all situation. However…what happens if you don’t win? There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking until it clouds your judgement.

The waiver is nothing. University of Maryland goes from Chem 1 to Orgo 1. You take analytical chem as your chem 2 but that’s after orgo 2. There is a ton of stuff to memorize. While many say remember the concepts…shoooooot there’s a ton of those. Vocabulary alone is intense!

Good luck!

Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone! I’m not that old now (26) but I think I will err on the side of caution this time. It looks like I’ll just take general chem II this summer and focus a bit more on work (I’ve been holding part time gigs b/c old full time job was 85% travel) and do some more volunteering & shadowing.

And as a sidenote, I just fount out I got a 95 on my 3rd genchem exam. 1 Small victory in a lightless tunnel! Sorry, I totally smashed those 2 metaphors together incorrectly.