Andrew S.

Recent Posts

Orgo 2 Strategies: Carboxylic Acid Derivatives and the Reactivity Hill

Posted by Andrew S. on 9/27/17 5:27 PM

A lot of students get overwhelmed with all the manipulations we can do with carboxylic acids and their derivatives. Outside of being able to deprotonate carboxylic acids if we so desire, we can also directly derivatize them. For example, we can transform them into acid chlorides. Acid anhydrides. Esters. Amides. We can also transform acid chlorides into every other derivative, anhydrides into every other derivative but the acid chloride, thioesters into every other derivative but the acid chloride and anhydride…

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Orgo 1 + 2 Strategies: Four Confusing Group Abbreviations

Posted by Andrew S. on 9/13/17 5:51 PM

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, accurate bookkeeping of your carbon-count is seemingly petty but actually important: an error in bookkeeping can lead you to an incorrect answer even if your logic is correct. 

With this in mind I thought it’d be helpful to share four common abbreviations that fluster many students.

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Orgo 1 Strategies: Understanding Hybridization

Posted by Andrew S. on 8/30/17 5:30 PM

Your professor gives you the below molecule. Can you quickly determine the hybridization of every atom?

Determining and understanding hybridization in Orgo 1 isn’t a futile practice. It’s an idea key to understanding mechanism and reactivity all the way through Orgo 2. Thankfully, the rules of thumb used to determine an atom’s hybridization are fairly straightforward. For example, most students recognize that..

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Tags: chemistry

Orgo 1 + 2 Strategies: Two Ways to Determine Equilibrium Position

Posted by Andrew S. on 8/23/17 5:11 PM

A common exam question that comes up in both Orgo 1 and Orgo 2 requires students to determine a reaction’s equilibrium position. The question usually looks something like this: 

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Orgo 1 Strategies: Finding and Comparing Alkene Hydration Products

Posted by Andrew S. on 7/31/17 6:18 PM

We all know Orgo 1 professors love stereoisomers. Consider the question A + B = C. Most professors expect you to fill in the question mark with all possible products and then indicate the major product(s), while other professors may provide you a potential C and then ask you if the statement is True or False.

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Tags: chemistry

Orgo 1 Strategies: Two Red Flags to Guide Your Synthesis

Posted by Andrew S. on 7/7/17 5:39 PM

So your professor says your Orgo 1 final will have a few synthesis problems. The good news: you’ve only learned a handful of reactions. Namely, you’ve learned how to manipulate alkenes and alkynes, and you know a little about radicals, substitution versus elimination, and the chemistry of alcohols, thiols, ethers, and epoxides. The bad news: well–there’s none to give. Managing synthesis problems in Orgo 1 is easy when you learn to look for red flags! 

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Tags: chemistry

Orgo 1 Strategies: Protocol for Acid-Base Problems

Posted by Andrew S. on 7/5/17 5:53 PM

Determining which of two molecules is more acidic is tricky if you haven’t yet organized those factors that influence acidity. The protocol is a method I learned from my mastermind Orgo 2 professor to keep these ideas in order when they come into conflict. Namely:

Size is more important than

Electronegativity, which is more important than

Resonance, which trumps the

Inductive Effect.

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Tags: chemistry

Graduate School: How to Get the Best Financial Aid Package Possible

Posted by Andrew S. on 4/12/17 1:52 PM

We’ve all been there. After months of anticipation, we get the letter, either digitally or via “snail mail”, that will dictate the course of our lives for the next 1,2, 4 or in some cases (e.g. doctoral programs) 10 years. Sure, getting through all the applications, soliciting letters of recommendation, and polishing our statements of purpose like our lives depended on them was nerve-wracking enough. And now, everything has come to a head: “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted…” 

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Tags: graduate admissions