The first exam covered:
1. Molecular Bonding and Structure
- Constitutional Isomers
- Resonance Structures
- Physical Properties, e.g., Solubility and Boiling Point
2. Functional Groups and Recognizing Them on IR Spectroscopy Graphs
3.Acids and Bases
- Relative Strengths of Acids and Bases
- Predicting the Most Acidic Hydrogen of a Molecule
4. Organic Synthesis Reactions
Study Strategies and Corresponding Goals:
I've spent a little too much time worrying over how well I'm going to do in this class. I decided to start out by putting as much time as I could towards this class and modify my schedule depending on how well I did on my first midterm. I ended up averaging three to hours of studying six days of the week. During the week before the test, I completed five practice tests, re-watched a few lecture videos and online tutorials, and went to a review session hosted by some of the TA's.
While my grade was a little lower than what I hoped for, I'm fairly content with the direction I'm heading in. I'm also changing a few aspects of my studying habits, both old and new.
The review session hosted by the TA's was held in one of the larger lecture halls on campus. While the sessions are usually about three hours long, this particular one was cut down to an hour because we had to be out of the room so another class could take a midterm in it. As a result, the session was very fast-paced. As a result, the meticulously hazy blocks of neatly indented, dashed, bulleted, and arrow filled pages of writing I usually transcribed while reading and listening to lectures looked nothing like the chaotic mess splattered across two pages at the end of the first section of my notebook. It looked like a rabid squirrel with a strange fascination for chemistry had drunk a large coffee and stolen my notebook. However, I found that the review session notes were a lot more helpful while I was studying for the test and I now employ the rabid-squirrel approach to taking notes. Instead of worrying about the aesthetic and uniformity of my notebook, I underline, bold, and use all capital letters for various words, draw boxes around concepts, and write more questions and connecting thoughts in the margins in order to help important ideas jump out of the pages when I skim through my notes. Not only has it helped me to pause and solidify ideas when I take notes, but I can now find key words quickly which has remarkably increased how many in-class (and time-sensitive) questions I answer correctly.
While the book is a good resource, there's simply too much information and it already takes me a little too much time to read through it once. Instead of reading and re-reading and re-reading (like I did during my two semesters of general chemistry) I'm going to try to read the chapter the weekend before, then spend my weekdays working problems and watching online tutorials, and lecture videos.
Highs and Lows:
I'm really enjoying Organic Chemistry so far. The class is much more interactive than any class I've taken at Stony Brook (with over twenty students) and I feel like I have a much better support system than I did in General Chemistry. Despite the fact that I spend a good portion of my days wrestling with varying degrees of confusion, I feel very confident.
I had the most trouble with organic synthesis reactions and, for some reason, predicting solubility. I think the main reason why I struggled was because my first impression of the two concepts was that they were pretty straight-forward and it wouldn't take a lot of effort to learn. I got a lot of problems wrong because I wouldn't stop long enough to get a good handle on the necessary concepts. I'm certainly going to try to avoid underestimating the complexity of organic chemistry in the future.