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 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: The Power of Bromine in Synthesis

Posted by Andrew on 7/10/17 5:49 PM

Whether you’re trying to accomplish a substitution or elimination in your synthetic scheme, there’s no getting around that a good leaving group must be involved. You’ll have a host of ways to introduce leaving groups by your final exam. Some reagents will invert chiral centers (e.g. SOCl2/pyridine, PBr3) in the process, and others won’t. 

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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

Tips and Mnemonics for Memorizing Amino Acid Structures

Posted by Eden on 1/18/17 6:31 PM

Learning amino acid structures is a challenging part of biology and biochemistry coursework. Many students feel totally overwhelmed by the task. The best way to master this skill is lots of repetition (here is a link to a Sporcle quiz that may help you with the repetition part) but it can be helpful to have tricks and mnemonics to get you started. Below is a chart with some mnemonics and tricks that I have collected over the years-hopefully this will be a good jumping off point for your amino acid mastery!

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Tags: biology, chemistry

Question Breakdown: Real AP Chemistry Exam Solutions

Posted by Sandra on 7/8/16 5:00 PM

This month, Sandra breaks down Question #2 on the 2015 AP Chemistry exam.  Read step by step instructions on how to solve this tricky question, and get tips on how to avoid getting tripped up on questions like this in the future!

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Tags: chemistry, AP exams

Guide to Deciphering Chemistry Arrows

Posted by Cynthia Liu on 7/22/15 10:30 AM


Come on, it can't be that hard... can it? [image source: Hunger Games

Chemistry is confusing enough with IUPAC nomenclature procedures to know, and the difference between E/Z and cis/trans alkene descriptions, and so many other new terms, models, units, and symbols. But the most common and important symbol in chemistry is the arrow.

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Tags: chemistry

What Is The Chemical Bond?

Posted by Mike Gelinas on 7/17/15 11:00 AM

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Tags: chemistry

Visualizing Colligative Properties

Posted by Hunter Archibald on 7/1/15 10:00 AM

To simplify colligative properties, picture what is happening when you dissolve a salt in water. We know that increasing the concentration of ions has an effect on the boiling and freezing points of water. How do you remember which way?  

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Tags: chemistry