Organic chemistry touches on almost every aspect of modern life, from biology to food additives, making it an important subject to learn. Unfortunately, many find it difficult to memorize so many reactions. However, as it is the most logical section of chemistry, you need little memorization but an excellent developed “chemical intuition” and study habits to become good at it.
Here are ten pieces of advice you can use to understand organic chemistry better and never be terrified of it again.
#1 Look for study help when you need it
To learn complex subjects such as organic chemistry, many students require help. However, if the parents supervise the homework, this often leads to inhibitions, difficulties, and blockages. To avoid that, external support, such as a private teacher or study programs that offer clear explanations, should be used.
And when it comes to subjects whose learning content builds on one another, such as chemistry, there is no such thing as getting study help “too early.” Suppose you are a student in, for example, Ontario, CA. In that case, look for the grade 12 chemistry Ontario-based online courses that allow students to understand complex chemistry concepts through video lessons, practice questions, and study guides.
#2 Build a strong basis
If the basics are not in place, the student will find it difficult to follow the rest of the subject matter. And many students need to take this aspect seriously. Skipping the beginning of the lecture and early chapters because they look easy and jumping right into the material they do not understand is self-sabotage. Even if you do not have enough time, go back to the introduction and early chapters and spend some time reviewing this material. That is an excellent recipe for developing your “chemical intuition” that can help you better grasp the “hard” part of the material that comes later on.
#3 Focus on combining memorizing with understanding
While memorizing helps commit to the memory, understanding principle and concepts helps us gain knowledge, understand how things fit together, and apply the acquired knowledge to new situations. Furthermore, you will remember the material for years when you learn with understanding. In contrast, when you memorize the same, you will remember it merely for a few days and gradually forget it. For this reason, only memorization in organic chemistry is a poor strategy. However, certain aspects of the chemistry course require memorization, such as nomenclature, reagent names, acronyms, functional groups, etc. That means there is nothing wrong with memorizing, as long as it is coupled with a dedication toward understanding the more profound principles and concepts.
#4 Do problems and (a lot of) mind mapping
Learning organic chemistry requires problem practice, so if you want to develop your “chemical intuition,” you need to work on problems. So, start with all the assignments your professor gives you, then try all NCERT questions, your reference book exercises, and even invent a few of your own. Finally, use your extra time to solve whatever comes to your hand instead of learning theory. Working on problems will help you not freeze up at a test. To fortify your learning:
- Try drawing structures, electron diagrams, and orbitals.
- Make a chart of reactions of a specific class of compounds.
- Write and draw whenever possible.
And most importantly, do it by yourself. Why? Because writing by hand pushes your brain to process information in a more detailed way, which will help you successfully load that information into your memory and build your “chemical instincts.”
#5 Work on your overall study habits
For a tiny portion of students, learning organic chemistry is easy. But even these students spend time doing their homework and studying for classes and exams. So one of the best pieces of advice is to learn a little every day and focus on fitting all parts into the big picture. To do that, you will need to polish (or build) your overall study habits by:
- Taking notes and reviewing thorough them while in class,
- Avoiding distractions such as your phone and social media,
- Scheduling your study time,
- Taking every extra opportunity to study,
- Studying with a group or partner,
- Take proper care of yourself.
Studying organic chemistry is demanding, and by following the advice we gave you, you will be able to create your path to mastering this subject. As you will probably work harder than you might anticipate, do not forget to feel proud of how much you can absorb and how much you have learned. Keeping track of your small but significant successes will keep you motivated and positive.