Organic Chemistry Boot Camp

I just wanted to check in and see how all my fellow Orgo boot camp comrades are holding up. I am home studying for my final which is tomorrow morning! It feels like it just started and now its over. Well that was fun…

Well . . . . I am surviving . . . barely. Had an lecture exam Monday, a quiz today, a lecture exam tomorrow. Tuesday, we had a lab exam, and I haven’t gotten out of lab before 6:30 any night this week (supposed to run until 5:30). I have no idea what’s going on with the stuff we’ve covered in class the past three days. I have until 9 am tomorrow morning to figure it out.
Over the weekend . . . I have a lab report to write, a NMR problem set to do, I should probably start studying for the final (which is next Friday). Somewhere in there, I would like to work on my AMCAS and study for the MCAT. The first “semester” is over next Friday. Then the next “semester starts the following week”.
This has quite possibly been one of the most intense things I’ve ever done!!

Quite possibly your class is harder than mine… I had an class exam, lab practical, lab final exam on Wednesday and tomorrow is the final. I feel your pain. Hang in there. At least it goes fast and if you use all the hours of the day to study, you will do no worse than anyone else. But I’d wait on the AMCAS. You don’t want to make any big mistakes on it because you are bleary eyed.

I’m hanging in too. This week has been hell cuz it was the last week of biochem but I’m managing. Was sick all last week so I had to make up a biochem exam Monday in addition to taking the first orgo exam. Then I had two prelabs to submit this week, and one orgo homework. My biochem final is tomorrow. This weekend I have to finish (read: do) an NMR problem set, plus another expt write up, do a take home quiz and an orgo homework. Plus I’ve tutored a couple hours at a time twice this week, and tomorrow the summer theater show opens so I’ll be working box office most of the weekend. AAAHHHHHHH!!! lol.
Good luck guys!
–Jessica, UCCS

Well - I managed an A- in the lecture portion of the first four week semester and an A in lab. Unfortunately, I dropped my average of 95 before the final to a 88 after the final due to my issues with memorizing reaction mechanisms and being able to do synthesis.
So - in addition to learning the zillion (an exaggeration, I admit) new mechasims we’ve been hammered with the past couple of days, I still need to go back an learn the ones from LAST semester since we, unfortunately, still need them to do new synthesis problems.
Last night (after getting out of lab at 6), I spent worked on lab stuff due today until midnight and never even got a chance to study the stuff we went over in class yesterday. Of course, lab didn’t go well today either, and I didn’t get out until 6:30. And here I am, posting on OPM when I should be studying.
Anyways - enough whining. I was the idiot who signed up for this class!
Anyone have any advice on learning synthesis and mechansims other than problems and memorization?

For mechanisms, write them repeatedly rather than looking ath them to memorize (I apologize if this one is obvious). If they’re reversible, it’s very important to write them all the way to the end and then turn around and write them all the way back to the beginning, say three to five times in a row. Ideally do it with slightly different reagents. This helps you learn the mechanism and also helps you recognize the products of that reaction when you’re trying to do synthesis.
For synthesis, try working backwards one step at a time. Just look at the product, and think, “What are some ways to make this, from ANYTHING AT ALL?” Don’t worry yet about how you’ll make the ANYTHING. Then when you’ve got a couple of ways, see if one of them has something else you can figure out how to make, FROM ANYTHING, and choose that route. Eventually you’ll find your way back to your starting material.
Also, with complex reactions like the Michael reaction, get a feel for what those products look like, so you can say, "This is a product of that reaction. So what did it look like before that reaction took place? Then how do I make those pieces?"
A lot of times synthesis problems will end with major reactions you just studied, so look for those and try to work back one step.
I hope this helps!

Thanks for the advice Denise! Writing the mechanisms over and over is something I don’t think I’ve done enough of. I need to make time to do more of that.
I usually try to work backwards on synthesis. I can usually get one step going forward, and then a couple going backwards, and then get stuck trying to make them meet in the middle. A lot of that has to do with not knowing my basic mechansims really well.
Although it will be good to get this class out of the way, doing the whole year in eight weeks is information overload!

Congrats on your grades and completion of the first semester. I survived mine as well. I got an A in lecture and an A- in the lab. Unfortunately our lab prof was a subjective sort of guy. I couldn’t figure out how to get an A. Although I aced anything that was quantitative… he didn’t like my hand writing on my notebook… and my lack of trembling in his presense. I just feel too damn old to quake in my boots for a self important prof. I’m there to learn. Do I sound like I’m whining? Maybe a little… my post bac 4.0 is gone. I feel like a nerd to whine but I never had good grades as an undergrad and somehow it feels good to prove to myself that I have the ability… I just can’t kiss $%^&*. At least not that much…

I had that problem also, and hate sucking up. I have a feeling you and I will both have to learn it as medical students.