Organic Chemistry
July 12, 2004 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Organic Chemistry [mi]

My girlfriend is taking the MCATs later this summer, she considers Organic Chemistry to be her weakest area. Anyone have pointers on how to brush up in this area, or key concepts that no one taking the MCATs should be without?
posted by mhaw to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This could help.
posted by pissfactory at 6:32 AM on July 12, 2004

Heh -- I used to teach ochem for the MCAT. First off, don't stress out about organic. There's really not THAT much on the MCAT, and it's going to be in a few pretty predictable areas. I think that the sight that pissfactory posted is a very cool sight, but it's way overkill for the MCAT.

What's she scoring on her practice tests right now? Knowing would help me have a better idea of what she should focus on.

In general, however, here's what I would spend time on:

-Determining R/S configuration. IMO, the highest yield topic.
-Basic (VERY BASIC) reaction pathways: SN1/SN2/E1/E2 and free radical halogenation. Go over calculating substrate specificity -- very easy, but no one remembers how to do it.
-Basic junk about sugars and amino acids. DO NOT spend time memorizing a bunch of specific structures. It takes forever and it's painfully low yield. Know the basic structures, how they work chemically (ring formation, peptide and disulfide bonding).
- Identification techniques. The questions on this will again be pretty basic, but there will be a couple of them. HNMR is a huge topic, but she should also know something about CNMR, TLC, mass spec, IR (know alcohol and carbonyl peaks), gas chrom, etc.

Those are the things that I think are the highest yield for most people. I'll give you some more if you tell me more about her scores and her background. What's she having trouble with?

Oh, one more thing -- there will be a question on her MCAT that looks something like this:

The reactant in this reaction is in the S configuration and has an optical rotation of +3.24. The product is in the R configuration. What is its optical rotation?

The answer to this question is always (D) Cannot be determined.* There you go -- free point.

*Someone is going to come along and say that this is not always correct -- like if the question tells you that you have a meso compound or that the two molecules are enantiomers. They will be right. However, every single MCAT I have ever seen has this question with the "cannot be determined" correct answer.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2004

Um, sight=site. Sigh.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2004

I passed my OC201 course by charting out all the major reaction pathways to a 11x17" paper, with full colour and arrows and etcetera.

I then immediately quit taking OC.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 AM on July 12, 2004

I just got done taking O-Chem and was going to give some pointers...but, what LittleMissCranky said.
posted by jmd82 at 9:06 AM on July 12, 2004

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