How_to_Succeed_in_OrgChem_Aug_2007 - How to Succeed in...

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Unformatted text preview: How to Succeed in Organic Chemistry 357 / 358 Chemistry 357 - Qatar Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences Welcome to the Adventures of Organic Chemistry. Organic chemistry is the study of the physical, spectroscopic and chemical or reactive properties of molecules. A strong foundation in organic chemistry will pave the way for your successful integration into many aspects of medicine, especially in disciplines such as biochemistry, pharmacology, nutrition, etc. As with medicine, organic chemistry is both an Art and a Science. There are fundamental concepts (ie. tools) that help us explain the natural phenomenon we observe in the laboratory but learning how to apply these to solving problems is definitely a beautiful Art. Organic chemistry is a challenging subject for many bright people so you should not feel embarrassed if you initially have some difficulties. We have all struggled at times to understand its complexities. It is this constant challenge that attracts chemists to this career and it would be fair to say that organic chemistry requires a lifetime of learning and exploring. Organic chemistry is initially challenging for students because it involves many new concepts or new twists on old concepts and it requires the development of new approaches to solving problems (i.e. application). We would like to offer you some suggestions that are based on what we found worked best for us when we were students and what seems to work best for our most successful students. Our Suggestions: 1) COME TO LECTURES. For every hour of lecture that you miss, you are adding 3 - 5 hours to your study time. This is the time it takes us to prepare each hour of material and how long it will take you to make up for a missed lecture. If you miss the lectures, you are not getting the benefit of having someone present the information in a "highlights" fashion. Without the lecture, you are left to do this on your own. In addition, learning occurs by repetition, every time you hear a concept repeated or see an example that brings a concept back, it makes it easier for you to recall it the next time you need to. 2) TAKE GOOD LECTURE NOTES WHILE IN LECTURE. When we prepare lecture notes, we are essentially doing much of your work for you. We are determining what pieces of information or concepts from the course textbook we feel are essential for your understanding and discarding those pieces that are less important for our purposes. When you are engaged in our lectures, you will be “actively learning”. There is something about writing organic chemistry that helps in the necessary learning process. Recall that when we were younger, we learnt by writing things several times (e.g. multiplication tables or vocabulary) to help you visualize them for easy recall. The same concept applies for some aspects of organic chemistry because it is a very visual subject. File Name: How_to_Succeed_in_OrgChem_Aug_2007.doc p. 1/3 3) REVIEW YOUR LECTURE NOTES REGULARLY. You’ve invested a lot of time making great notes… USE THEM! In the evening following the lecture, they are fresh in your mind. This is a great opportunity to look over your notes again to see if and where confusion might persist. This review should only take 10 minutes per day (20 minutes will probably do ALL your courses from that day) if everything is clear. This review is not actually as much “studying the notes” as it is skimming them (ie. fine tuning the visual part of your learning ability). If you have any points of confusion, now is the time to address them while the information is fresh. Read the textbook sections where this material is addressed. If it is still confusing, talk to a classmate or come see one of your instructors the next day. Remember to add extra notes in the margins so the next time you read them, the previous confusion will not be an issue. Once per week, go back to the beginning of your notes so you obtain an overview of how the material all fits together. One suggestion is to make a copy of your lecture notes and placing them where you spend spare time (e.g. kitchen or bathroom). You can review them when you are doing other things (i.e. cooking, brushing your teeth, etc). 4) TEXTBOOK. It is helpful to look at your textbook prior to lectures. Focus on the introduction and summary sections as well as other section headings, reactions and any mechanisms. You should also read BOLDED words or HIGHLIGHTED PASSAGES for meaning. In a perfect world, we would recommend that you read all the chapter material in detail at least three times. However, if you understand the information from lecture well and you are able to complete the problems without difficulty, then reading the chapter for detail is less critical. It would be more useful to spend that time doing additional problems (see below). 5) VISITING YOUR INSTRUCTORS OFTEN When you fail to understand aspects on the course, you MUST figure these out before moving forward. The course builds on previous material and therefore, a hole in your knowledge will only serve to trip you later. We hope that you will use your lecture notes and the textbook as much as possible so that the knowledge becomes YOURS!! However, if you are still left unsure, please give us a chance to help you through the tough spots. Sometimes students may feel they are bothering us if they come for help but please, we are trained to help you and we really enjoy working with you. It gives us a great thrill to see the understanding “come into a students eyes”. Please be proactive and drop by our offices often. 6) SOLVE RECOMMENDED PROBLEMS OFTEN (ie. recitation and textbook) Everything discussed above deals with your understanding of the theory and principles of organic chemistry. However, memorization and regurgitation may ONLY earn you 20 - 30% on an exam. Your success in these courses (ie. grade) will be dependent on your success at demonstrating the ability to apply fundamental principles to solving File Name: How_to_Succeed_in_OrgChem_Aug_2007.doc p. 2/3 problems. You definitely need to understand those principles but “success” requires you to demonstrate a more fundamental understanding of how these principles are applied. As such, you need to be solving organic chemistry problems regularly (i.e at least four sessions per week). Sunday recitations are meant to demonstrate for you how to work and solve problems but this is not enough. You need to spend much more time each week working just as hard on your own and with your study partner(s) to become proficient. Working in small groups often helps as long as you are working and not just socializing. Please remember…. On exam day, you will be graded on YOUR ability to solve problems. You must not be content having someone answer the problems for you. Y O U D O N O T O W N T H E A N S W E R S U N T I L Y O U C A N G E N E R A T E T H E M F O R Y O U R S E L F ! ! Solving the same problems several times will also be helpful. 7) EXAM PREP. If you have done everything mentioned in 1 – 5 above, then exam preparation for you should basically mean REVIEW. First, read through your notes from beginning to end several times over the week preceding the exam. By this time, they should begin to look "OBVIOUS" if you have been doing your work. Secondly, you need to do problems like those you encounter in class, in recitation and in the textbook. One suggestion is to choose representative problems from all those practice problems assigned in the last four recitation sets, and perhaps some questions assigned from the text. Select 8 problems RANDOMLY (but including variety) from these problems and complete them without the assistance of the textbook or your notes. Find a quiet place and give yourself 90 minutes (i.e. simulate the exam setting). Write out the answers fully. Check your answers critically and this should show if you are ready or not. If you constantly feel like you need to use the textbook or your notes when solving these problems, you must conclude that you are not sufficiently prepared. You must do more preparation or you will be disappointed by your exam day result. Repeat this exercise with a different set of problems. This method will not lie to you and give you false confidence. If you CAN NOT do the problems this way, you probably will not be able to do them on the exam. If you can do the problems without help, you are likely in pretty good shape. 8) EVENING BEFORE EXAM. Probably the biggest mistake students make in preparing for an exam is studying until 1:00 or 2:00 AM (or later) the night before. Especially for Organic Chemistry, you need a GOOD SLEEP (at least 7 h… Dr. Maas would say 9 h). When you see a question different from any you’re seen before (and you will in this course), then you can look for the similarity or analogy to problems you have seen. With a good nights sleep, you can successfully THINK your way through them. We hope this helps and we wish you all the success with orgo. Drs. Pungente and Smith File Name: How_to_Succeed_in_OrgChem_Aug_2007.doc p. 3/3 ...
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