Necessary to memorize IR and NMR tables?

While working my way through the Kaplan Organic Chemistry portion of the review course, I’ve run across several questions which you simply cannot answer unless you’ve memorized at least portions of the tables which let you interpret NMR and IR spectrosopic results.
Is this just part of Kaplan being “tougher than the real thing” or is it really necessary to go memorize all this for the MCAT?
And if so, which portions of the tables are important to memorize?

Yikes. Anyone have any good sites for spec problems? I suck at them.


I only came across 1-2 questions on the real MCATs that I took that requested this info and it was the real basics. It was one of those passage question types that would start you out with some organic compound. It’s then reacted with some other compound. It then goes through a distillation process or filtering process to reach the final end product. The question would then be that the end product was measured to have such and such number for NMR and such and such number for IR…from the list of below compounds, the final product is most likely A,B,C, or D? Honestly, I would not study them to the point to where you know the exact freq. a C-C bond emits. Just be somewhat familiar with where a C-O, C=O, N-H, O-H, C-C reside in relation to each other on both the NMR and IR charts. I’m a very visual learner, so drawing out both charts worked well enough for me to get by. However, I did have to memorize all of this data for Orgo I, so that helped in the long run as well.


I think Examkrackers has a more realistic approach:
NMR: be able to interpret splitting and peak patterns etc., know aldehyde at 9.5 ppm
IR: know the following for sure:
C=O sharp at 1710
OH broad at 3200-3600 (lower in RCOOH)
for extra credit, also know:
CH at 2800-3000
NH at 3300

I do remember I also got 2 questions about an IR but they included an IR graph, so I was able to get somewhat of an idea of what they were asking. I can’t remember what the questions were asking. Too long ago.

Oh and Kaplan does seem to make things harder sometimes when they really don’t need to.

Definitely do not try to memorize the charts. Maybe 5 or 6 main points about where main things show up on the IR and NMRs.

Hi there,
I don’t think that this has changed since I took the MCAT but you need to know where the common stuff is generally located. This is more practical stuff as opposed to memorization. Memorizing every peak on NMR is pretty low yield. The IR stuff is pretty much the same. You need to be pretty familiar with the basics but not the specifics.