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Hi all, 


I will be graduating from undergrad in May, but I plan on taking a year off to finish some pre-reqs. I still need Ochem and Biochemistry for sure. I have already taken a course of Ochem but I need to retake it because I did not do well in it the first time because I was not serious about what I wanted to do with my future (this was freshman year). I plan on taking Ochem this summer to focus on just that class.


For those of you that have taken Ochem, what are your study tips/advice on how to stay in top of things and do well in this course? I know it will be a huge time commitment, but I am motivated to do well this time around. 


I am looking into taking an online Biochemistry and Genetics course because a lot of the PA schools I am interesting in applying to do not require lab for them. Do you think this is a good or bad idea? Does it really matter if it's in class vs. online? if you've taken these classes, what is your advice for doing well? 


I appreciate any responses! Thanks!

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Ah yes, it can be quite the bugaboo.  For most people It's the first and maybe only course where you need to like actually read ahead and prepare for class. 


I became a little bit of an instant sucker for extra study material, so I went and got used copies of Pushing Electrons, Organic Chem as a Second Language and Organic Chemistry for Dummies.  Go ahead and laugh, but these really helped me, I can see why they are so popular.  My professor did not use slides or handouts or anything, so other than the textbook I was reliant on my notes (just went by too fast) and these books to explain things.  The first two have lots of extra problems and all three were written in a friendly style.  


That's the key, by the way, do tons of problems, force yourself.  I knew "how" to do a problem, but until I tried and failed and sorted it out later, I was not able to actually do them.  Then it was repetition, like arithmetic homework for grade school.  


If you get in the saddle and keep up and do lots of problems, then it's very doable to get an A.  Bit of a brain grinder, but doable.


I took Biochem in person and Genetics online, both at the local CC.  Both were tough; my genetics course was intended for molecular bio majors I think.  Take them from accredited places (not Trump U) and research how hard people think they were before diving in.  You could probably find courses that aren't unnecessarily difficult.


There is some problem-solving in most Genetics courses.  And make sure that your biochem isn't too heavy in O-chem because you won't remember some of it and some of it you won't have taken.  (sort of like taking calc-based physics if you are weak in calc).  Good luck.

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What helped me with organic was to rewrite my notes from class every single day into another notebook, make use of ball and stick models to help with spatial reasoning, and to write out problems on a whiteboard.


Also, and this goes for any class, explaining concepts or teaching the material to someone else (or your dog) is a great way to solidify the information in your head.



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Guest HanSolo

I attempted all the in-chapter problems ahead of the lecture that those concepts were being presented in. That way things weren't new in class, and I could ask informed questions to clarify concepts I thought were confusing. Other than that, do problems, do some more problems, and when you think you've got it nailed, do a few more. Orgo is one of those courses where you really do get out as much as you put in. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

For organic chem I also knew it would be hard as I struggled in gen chem and didn't put in the time or effort my first year. When I took orgo 1 I only took one other class with it and went to tutoring up to three times a week, (one was a with a four person tutorial session offered by the school, the other two I paid a student out of pocket). Dedicate a LOT of time to studying. Read before class and work through the problems in the chapter before class, so during class, you can follow and understand. Buy a solution manual with explanations drawn out, DO NOT just try to rely on simple answers in the end of the book for the end-of-chapter problems but get a book that will teach you how to solve problems you don't understand. This also helps so if you make a mistake when solving a practice problem you can look and figure out where you went wrong. (We used Wiley for my class. Their soln. manual was great but a little pricy. I would definitely buy it used.) Read take notes and practice, practice, practice! When it comes to synthesis make flashcards, (make them a few times). Make flow charts too! Orgo one is more intuitive than gen chem in my opinion but does require time outside of class if you want to succeed. (Again this all will vary somewhat depending slightly on the classroom/learning style and professor.) Don't be scared of orgo, just like any of the more difficult classes it's certainly not impossible to do well if you put the time and effort in and it looks like you are ready too! Just don't start falling behind, this can be a mistake many people make. At the end of the semester, things tend to go a bit more quickly, and I know for myself the second I start falling behind I have a really hard time picking myself back up. Best of luck in orgo!

As for biochem a lot of schools want it, but not all. They will usually specify on their website whether they accept online or not, so perhaps check into this.

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I loved both biochem and orgo! As said above, practice makes perfect. Orgo is all about knowing your reactions and how electrons "move." You will apply what you learn in orgo in biochem so it is critical to have a good orgo foundation. Think about what type of learner you are. Do you like to have concepts fully explained or do you learn by trial and error? Do flash cards work for memorization or do you need to see the whole picture? I would definitely invest in a model kit and find a study partner. Good luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

For me, I was most successful while reading the chapter that was being covered in lecture first--which means I read every single chapter that was covered--but it was veryyyy time consuming. This provided me with a framework of what the chapter was about. I was also actively answering the problems that were provided throughout chapter's sections and would check them with a solution's manual.


I would then do the extra practice problems my next study session (usually the next day) that were at the end of the chapter with the solutions guide next to me when I got stuck. I highly encourage that you try to answer the problem the best that you can before checking to see what the answer is. As ppl have stated above me, it really is all about practice. That means doing organic chemistry every day for several hours. Practice practice practice problems. Keep drawing mechanisms until your hand cramps (lol) and try to see the patterns that occur (for example: nucleophile attacks electrophile)


This is getting specific but if you can develop an intuition with organic then come exam time it will flow. By that I mean, organic chemistry is like a learning a second language. When you become comfortable with a new language the words just start to flow and there isn't much thought in speaking it and conversing. You can't memorize the language; instead you have to learn it. This might not make any sense, but if you can look at the starting material and just feel what reagents are needed to get the products, then you will be good.


I also HIGHLY suggest you chart all the reactions you are exposed to. I divided the reactions up based on chapters because there is a ton of variation and many exceptions. Come exam time, I would have everything compartmentalized so I did not miss any reactions. I also utilized office hours a lot. I would stare at my list of reactions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays; this isn't for everyone but it worked for me!



starting material --->reagents ---> end product



This is a lot of info and as you can tell I enjoyed the class. Taking the course is essentially testing your will to want to succeed. If you put the necessary time in, you will succeed. Organic is not inherently difficult, just a lot of meticulous work required.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Do you guys have any recommendations for online course orgo chem lecture only?

Most PA schools require corresponding labs for orgo which are not usually not online, but I am sure there are some schools where this is not the case. I found this old post that may help but had trouble accessing the link on a reply, maybe you will have better luck. http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/index.php?/topic/11350-any-schools-that-accept-online-science-courses-w-lab/

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Organic chemistry is taught very well through Clutchprep.com. They are a paid service, but well worth it in my opinion. They have a lot of content regarding organic chem and ways to study and memorize the material. I also firmly believe that drawing the structures (i spent hours over a white board) and knowing WHY the mechanisms happened was the key to doing well in Orgo. I got an A using these methods :) Good luck! 

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Do you guys have any recommendations for online course orgo chem lecture only?


I did organic lab on campus at my school and did organic lecture through UNE. I also did biochem online through Doane University. I must say that Doane Is by far the better school.



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-Read chapters more than once.  

-Take notes as you read along the chapters the first time.  Helps remember the fine details

-Do the questions, section quizzes, and the questions at the end of each chapter.  BIG TIME HELPER!

-Go to Class!

-Organic Chemistry as a Second Language from Amazon, BIG HELP!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

- Go. To. Every. Class. Just accept it's going to be hard AF.

- Make sure the professor knows your name. I went up to my prof the first day of class and introduced myself and told him I'd be living in his office hours for the next six weeks. Sit down and have him/her go over problems you're struggling with. I went into the final on the cusp of a B+ and A- and some how walked out with a flat A. Point is, I was in his office some days until 7pm at night asking questions and talking through material I was struggling with.

- If you're not good at spacial relationships (newman projections, S & R, etc) utilize the heck out of your model kit.

- Take notes on your notes.

- Treat this like a full time job and study as much as you can. Do countless practice problems. When you get to reactions, make a detailed reaction sheet of the starting material, reagents, and products for that are typical for that reaction.

- Before every exam re-do all homework problems and quiz problems.

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If you ever don't understand the material in lecture, address the questions you have as soon as possible. Even understanding it in lecture is one thing but having the concepts mastered (and being able to tackle every theoretical problem on a test possible) is another thing. It's easy to underestimate the material or to just fall behind in general. Definitely go to as many office hours as you physically can and do all of the assigned practice problems (and more if you're up for it). 

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Lots of good advice here; I'll probably be parroting what everyone else is saying.

For me, here were a few things that helped out:

-Skim the chapter before you go to lecture; don't necessarily write notes or anything, but this will get a loose foundation in your brain, so you can have a general idea of what's easy and what's harder in the chapter material. Plus, you can have better questions for the professor than if you had just heard it for the first time in lecture.

-After lecture, ASAP, sit down with the lecture notes and your textbook, and re-read the chapter covered in class. As you go along, write clean, comprehensive notes. The more organized your notes are, the easier time you will have studying them in the future. When I had trouble remembering something for an exam, I often could simply imagine what page in my notes that the material was on, and memory by association would kick in. Visual memory is POWERFUL in Orgo!

-Get yourself nice materials! A nice notebook, a smooth pen that doesn't smear, and some colored pens too. If you make your notes pretty, you're more likely to remember them, and make them more organized.

-Get your hands on an answer key, either the official solutions manual for your textbook, or get a subscription to Chegg.com. These are great ways to check your work. Which leads to...

-Do problems daily! Every single day, when taking Orgo 2, I would study and write the latest notes in my fancy notebook. Then, I would work on some problems.

-Look into "Memory Palace" techniques. While it sounds really obnoxious and maybe a bit daunting, the principle behind this powerful technique allows experts to memorize whole decks of cards. It's an application of visual association. Seriously, it helped me a ton when I was running low on study time.

In summary, the most important thing is to stay on top of it. Cramming is GARBAGE, unless all you need to remember is something very simple and succinct. You are going to have difficulty remembering reagents and reactions if you do cramming sessions. 

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