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

The Basics of Retrosynthesis

Posted by Cynthia Liu on 5/16/15 10:44 AM

No…not that kind of retro.

People often dismiss organic chemistry as “all memorization”. I disagree – organic chemistry is just a series puzzles based on a few basic concepts (electronics, sterics, orbitals) that come together to answer almost any problem you might encounter on your homework or tests.

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Tags: chemistry

The Chemistry Tutor: Nine Tips to Get You Through Orgo

Posted by Mariah Hanley on 4/22/15 11:52 AM

Spidey knows orgo

Many students find organic chemistry to be one of the most daunting classes that they take during college. And they’re right, it’s not easy! But with some good study skills, it’s possible for anyone to succeed and become a master organic chemist.

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Tags: chemistry

Study Skills: The Bionic Power of Mnemonic Devices

Posted by Richard Gold on 2/6/15 11:00 AM

woody allenRobots are awesome, but don't become robotic while using mnemonics!

Mnemonics: from the Greek “Mnemonikos:” of or relating to Memory.A device such as a verse or formula or rhyme used as an aid in remembering concepts. Named for Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory in Greek mythology.

The most popular kind of mnemonic device is known as “expressions/words.” This refers to the method whereby the first letters of the items to be remembered are organized into a snazzy and memorable word, phrase, or sentence . Almost all algebra students know “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,” but just because you’ve graduated high school doesn’t mean mnemonics stop being useful—in fact, they’re more important than ever for developing good study skills. In an effort to remember the 11 organelles in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells, even a professional biologist will rely on a sentence like “Nobody Can Roast Really Great Steaks Like My Neighbor’s Cousin Vinny.” For our MCAT tutoring students in Boston and New York, mnemonics are the very breath of life. But it’s important to understand that there are way more ways to design mnemonics than just simple sentences. Today, I’d like to show you some.

Sing It!

If you are clever or musical enough you can create a song or jingle like the famous “ABC” song sung by generations of children. Sometimes these musical interludes can be only one memorable line. Just apply your own words to a song you already know! A current advertising favorite seems to be 1-877-Kars for Kids, or if that is too lame—and Cambridge Coaching apologizes for having put that godawful tune in your head—then how about “Every kiss begins with K?”

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Tags: study skills, chemistry