Orgo 2 Strategies: “Taking Home” Carboxylic Acid Derivatives

Posted by Andrew S. on 10/30/17 6:22 PM

I’ve already covered how to easily manage carboxylic acid derivative formation and manipulation using the Reactivity Hill.

Say we’re tired of whatever derivative we just created and want to bring the derivative back to its parent acid (the particular acid the derivative came from). There are two ways to “take home” any acid-derivative. We can account for these “take home” conditions in the Reactivity Hill scheme we’ve already seen.

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Tags: chemistry

Organic Chemistry: This Subject Gives You Alkynes of Trouble!

Posted by Daljit on 10/27/17 4:39 PM

Although some people genuinely enjoy it, organic chemistry is stigmatized as the bane of every science major's curriculum. Before you actually take one or two courses in this subject, the horror stories that you've heard from those who have already taken these courses fill you with anxiety and leave you fearing the unknown. I'm not going to sugar coat it: organic chemistry is difficult but not impossible. As long as you devote enough time to study for the exams and figure out an effective study system (I used flashcards), you will be fine when it's all said and done. If you have ever taken an organic chemistry class or if you are currently taking one now, you know that there are feelings and experiences that only a past, or current, organic chemistry student understands.

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Tags: chemistry

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