Second time around and I’m getting my butt kicked!!!

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    I had all but forgot that this site was a good resource for finding others in my same situation. I’m making my way through Organic Chem (retaking it since I last took it in 1994 and I got a C). I have decided to return to may original goals of going to med school and I started with my most difficult course…ORGANIC CHEMISTRY. I knew that in order for my efforts to be worthwhile (AND NOT DETRIMENTAL to my future endeavors) I’d have to 1) finally understand the material and 2) bust my butt to get an A or else it wouldn’t be worth the trouble (when you average out the two classes, an A will only bring my first grade up to a B). We’re 2/3 through the course and I just bombed my 2nd exam…55 and the class average was a 60. I must admit that it helped soothe my bruised ego knowing that many others found the material difficult but it sucked get a 55 for one and then coming in below the average. I think I let my A take flight while I stood by and just watched it go. I did find a silver lining…even though I did so poorly on my last exam; I still enjoy (yes that’s right, enjoy) the class material. The professor is awesome [Very accessible, user friendly, and always willing to offer other solutions to one problem to get us thinking]. The learning environment is very different from the first time I took it where I was just utterly overwhelmed and confused with the material and the rest of my course load. I initially thought that I didn’t have the time to go to school, work full time, be a wife, be a mother and still be sane enough to carry on a conversation with anyone over the age of 2. Well after reading so many of your profiles, I realize that I have no excuse to whine. If it’s THE goal that I’ve set for myself, push for it. I have a very good support system in place so I guess like the Nike ad, “just do it.” I’m off to conquer Sn1 and Sn2 reactions. Elimination and substitution is my next bear to master before I go back and retrain myself on the other reactions. All wasn’t lost though so that’s the other silver lining. The professor proposed a plan of action for each student to obtain an A based on the last 3 quizzes, the 3rd exam and our final next month. I’ve got a lot of work to do so I’m off. Thanks for being such a great sounding board.



    Hang in there hon, it’s a tough course 😮 . The curve should help you out on that exam. Here’s the trick: write out the reaction mechanisms OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND… You get the picture. Keep doing it until you can write it down cold. Get a good study guide that shows you the reaction mechanisms step by step and then do lots and lots and lots of practice problems. That is how you can kick butt in ochem :goodvibes: .

    This is a direct quote from my family physician: “I always hated chemistry, I never understood it. I got a D in ochem and they STILL let me into medical school–so don’t let ochem get you down, Elise, there is life after Ochem!”

    Hope that helps. Keep us posted and do not give up on that dream!

    Elise 😀


    Elise’s advise is key, but here’s what saved my bacon in ochem – FLASHCARDS!!! And every night, my hubby and I would go through them all. Toward the end of second semester, it took almost two hours, but it was worth it. Also, I made every reaction into a smutty soap-opera plot. I plan to write a xxx ochem text someday… that might not work for you, but it helped me to understand what was actually going on in the reactions, so I didn’t have to depend on rote memorization.

    Hope this helps!



    Elise! Awesome news about the D in OChem and the then student, now doctor still making into med school. It certainly was very comforting. The good news is my situation is no longer that dire. I was bummed for 3 weeks after that abysmal exam and was actually rebelling from studying the material. I finally wised up and returned to my study sessions with my professor (accessible, approachable…etc). Anyway, I did all right on the last 3 quizzes (never breaking 18/25) but I did well in comparison to the overall class average on the 3rd exam. I got a 71 and the class average was 60. It was SO HARD…but I was able to get through it. We have our final on Monday and I’m dreading this weekend. I met with my professor yesterday to cover old topics that were still fuzzy (does that ever clear up) and we’re meeting again on Friday. Not sure if I’ll be able to make the scheduled review session tomorrow (all depends on if the hubby will get off in time to pick up Xav (our 1 year old) before I have to leave for school. About the flash cards (and Nanon, thank you for the advice as well), I’ve got them but I’m terrible at being consistent with them. I think I’ll follow the recommendation you gave about writing it out over and over and over and over…(I do get it 🙂 ) again until it sticks. :boggled: We have to figure out how each was added on and in what sequence. :p Yummy 🙂 NO FEAR though…I just have to stay awake at the end of the day long enough to get in proficient studying. Thanks again you two for the reassuring words…FLASH cards and there’s life after OChem. Fabulous news.

    Does anyone know about becoming a personal trainer? Just throwing that out there as a possible career alternative if I opt out of the military while I pursue med school.


    NAN!!! I wanna see those flashcards!!!



    Originally posted by shanna:
    [b]NAN!!! I wanna see those flashcards!!!


    OK – but not till next week, cause I’m freaking out about finals right now. :tired: 😮 …. hehehehe (that’s a maniacal giggle)…



    And a list of the smutty mnemonics would be great… the mnemonics that everyone is using just don’t do it for me. not sticking. I spend more time with those than I do with what I’m trying to encode. grr.


    and yes.. I feel you with finals.. I never thought Modern Poetry was going to be harder than Chem.. 😮 :tired:


    Hello All,

    Iam feeling very pooped about o-chem. Ijustgot my grade for the semester and it was a D. I haveno idea right to do from here. Iam areturning adult student deciding to enroll at a post bac in NJ andthought atthe was a good idea to make my application stronger. I was in thebeginning of the semester enrolled in both Physics I and Ochem. During the first round of midterms , my mother, who is now the sole provider of my family broke her knee cap at work. As the eldest of 4 kids, I had to travel back and forth from NY to NJ every week, leaving NJ on Friday Morning and returning Mon afternoon b/f recitation to take care of my Momwho was in the hospital and sibblings. Zero “real” study time. I tried to fight through to the end seeing as how I was paying out of state tution which was high and lost out in the end I guess. I was advised to drop Physics if I though I would attain a D and I did and focused on Ochem…I guess that final hull just didn’t do it. I made it to every study group I could , evry office hr my professor had, studied on my own, attended all lectures and recitation–I guess I just had diffuculties grasping. Now I feel that this medical dream is hopeless. Do have I have nay chance from here? I’m sorry I just felt like ranting b/c I have done all the crying I can do–ruined my contacts. Thanks for reading. 🙁


    I just spent the last 40 minutes crying over my final grade. I got a C and I’m just devastated. Somehow I thought with having to juggle work, school, and family that it would somehow make me more focused on the goal. I am just distraught because I can’t count the number of days that I stayed late at work because of being away at school. Driving 70+ miles per hour to and from school so I could get back to work…Being late to pick up my son from daycare trying to make up for lost hours at work…it all seems like a waste. I’m sure that this is a minor setback but for lack of a better word…it bites :censored: I really wanted to say something else but I’d like to keep this as a viable forum for discussion. So I feel like crap but I’ll make sure that I don’t let this minor setback stop me from my goals. No worries about crying with me…I’ve got enough tears for all. Later, the hubby’s home so I’ll cry on his shoulder. 🙁


    Okay guys all is not lost so keep your chin up. Both of you had a lot of other things going on this semester and that is probably why (I can bet my pant on it) you did not do too well in organic. Do not panic and let this class bum you out. Now, here is what I would do (of course this does not mean that it is what you should do, he he). Get my priorities straight, meaning, if I could go part-time on the job I would, so I could focus on school. Are your kids doing a gazillion activities and you have to drive them everywhere? can you possibly cut back just a little? to give you some more time? You have to really think how bad you want this dream and then go from there. But, getting one bad grade will not keep you from it. I will give you my experience maybe this helps. My kids only have one activity each per week, my son goes to hockey and my daughter takes dance. I do not work so that helps, but I do volunteer, tutor, and do research, so that is like a part time job. I really never ever get to watch tv and I go to bed really late and get up really early, maybe getting five hours of sleep (catch up on the weekend). I sat down with my family and explained my goal, and told them can we all do this? I needed their support to not cook all the time, let the house get dirty, not do laundry until weekends sometimes, etc. They said yes, so when I have to study all other activities cease in my house. When I was in organic I studied every day for at least two hours. When I had an exam I spent most of the weekend studying, yeah it might have been overkill but I got an A and was able to skip the final. So, do not give up, but be realistic about how hard it is to do well in some of these classes. It takes a huge chunk of time and your family has to either pick up the slack or be okay with the house being dirty for some time.Organic is not intrinsically difficult it is just the huge amount of volume and getting used to the reactions. There is some memorization but if you understand the why of the mechanisms, the memorizations drops down quite a bit. What helped me is that my gen chem background was very strong and for the first semester of organic that really helped me out. Go buy yourselves a good organic chemistry review book or there is one called pushing electrons that everyone really raves about, and during this break review it and if you received a D then retake it, if you received a C I would not retake but focus on getting an A in organic II. I hope this post makes some sense, I am getting ready to go somewhere and in a rush. More later and good luck ladies! :wave:


    Sn1 and Sn2 – Tomorrow, E1 and E2!

    Memorize this: The major difference between Sn1 and Sn2 has to do with how the leaving group leaves. For Sn1, the leaving group takes off, and the the next group hops on. For Sn2, the leaving group is forced off by the attacking group.

    Think about it like this: Organic chemistry reactions are often like highschool in a test tube. The Sn1 substrate is a good girl. She waits until her man has taken off before she gets a new boyfriend. Sn2 substrate is a bad girl (sethina, please don’t kick me off the board – this really is how I learned ochem 😉 ). Not only is she not exactly monogamous, she lets her new, brawny boyfriend give her the old “backside attack” during a three-way with her old boyfriend, which of course scares the old boyfriend away!

    Now, what makes a good girl (Sn1) and what makes a bad girl (sn2)? Lets look at what they have in common. Both of the old boyfriends (leaving groups) have to be ok on their own. That means they have to be relatively stable – ions like Br, Cl and I, also sulfonate, sulfate and phosphate. That’s about it.

    Now, what don’t they have in common?

    Type of Nucleophile: Well, let’s look at what kind of new boyfriends we have. For Sn1, the boyfriend can be kind of weak, because he doesn’t have to compete for the Sn1 kind of girl. The old boyfriend has already taken off. For Sn2, however, the new boyfriend scares off the old boyfriend – he’s probably not a milktoast.

    Type of Substrate: For the boyfriend to leave Sn1, the Sn1 carbon has to be supported by lots and lots of other groups – you can think of them as her girlfriends, whose shoulders she cries on. (The real reason that Sn1 goes 3 prime > 2 prime and never happens 1 prime or CH3X is because the leaving group takes away it’s electrons. This is actually the most important aspect of figuring out whether or not a reaction will go Sn1 or Sn2). On the other hand, Sn2 has a reputation for three-ways, and doesn’t have a lot of friends around – she goes it on her own. (The real reason that Sn2 goes CH3X > 1 prime > 2 prime, never 3 prime is that the attacking group can’t get to the carbon if there are a lot of other groups around – steric hinderance).

    Type of Solvent: For Sn1, there has to be a reason that the boyfriend leaves. So, a good ionizing solvent is needed – and by the way, whenever you see AgNO3 and all the other factors for Sn1 are there, you will get Sn1. For Sn2, who’s old boyfriend is scared off, the solvent really doesn’t matter.

    All of these are promoting factors. Now let’s look at what happens to Sn1 and Sn2 after the reaction takes place.

    Stereochemistry: Because the old boyfriend just leaves Sn1, the new boyfriend can just latch on where the old boyfriend was, or (depending on steric hinderance), approach her in a whole new way. Not so with Sn2 – Backside attacks leave her turned inside out (inverted). Not a pretty image, but the best I could come up with.

    Rearrangements: Now, because Sn1 needs all her friends to support her when her old boyfriend leaves, she’ll sometimes call her friends over. (If a group one over is available, a 1 or 2 prime carbon will generally become a 2 or 3 prime carbon.) Sn2 has no friends, so rearrangements can’t occur.

    Kinetics: Here we’re talking about reaction rates, and I’m just going to ask you to memorize it – I’m not good at explaining it.

    Sn1 rate = kr [R-X]
    Sn2 rate = kr [R-X][nuc]

    What to put on your flash card:

    Sn1 promotion

    Nucleophile (new boyfriend): weak ok
    Substrate (how many friends): 3 prime > 2 prime
    Solvent (why did the boyfriend leave): good ionizing
    Leaving Group (old boyfriend): good one
    Other: AgNO3 forces ionization

    Sn2 promotion:

    Nucleophile (new boyfriend): Stong
    Substrate (how many friends): CH3X > 1 prime > 2 prime
    Solvent (why did the boyfriend leave): Doesn’t matter – old boyfriend scared off.
    Leaving group: good one

    Sn1 Characteristics:

    Kinetics: kr [RX]
    Stereochemistry: Mixture of inversion and retention
    Rearrangements: Common

    Sn2 Characteristics:

    Kinetics: kr [RX][nuc]
    Stereochemistry: Always inverted, backside attack!
    Rearrangements: Never. No friends to rearrange.

    What to do on a test: Take a good look at the substrate and the nucleophiles first. Decide: Is this a good girl? Does she have a lot of friends? Will her old boyfriend leave without a fight? Is her new (potential) boyfriend a brute?

    Hope this helps you – great review for me!




    This is awesome….I think I GET IT for the first time too now!

    Ummm…so when is your book coming out? 😉



    Originally posted by mommd2b:

    This is awesome….I think I GET IT for the first time too now!

    Ummm…so when is your book coming out? 😉


    Glad you like. I think it makes this whole dreadful subject at least more amusing. And actually, as I’m taking next semester off, I might just write that textbook. This is terrific review for me for the MCAT, which I’m hoping I can take next summer.

    I think what I’ll do from now on is just post a subject every day (probably more like every other day, knowing me) on my website and link it up here, if that’s ok with Sethina. If you guys have questions, or a specific topic you’d like to see my spin on, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. But really, once you start thinking like this, you can do it yourself. Just make up stories for your molecules that make sense to you.



    Things are much better now. Nanon, what a phenomenal description. I copied that page and put it into my notebook. I am certainly at fault though. On days that I should have been studying, I would come home and busy myself with things like laundry, sleeping, playing with Xavier (my 1 yr old), sleeping, preparing for the next day’s brief(military), sleeping…Can you tell I was tired. I challenged myself to take on the course that I had the most difficulty with and I didn’t do as well as I thought I would. That’s all right for now. You’re absolutely correct about what the focus should be on next semester…getting that A. :scratchchin: When I first took microbiology, it was overwhelming. I withdrew after the first two quizzes but when I retook it, I made up smutty mnemonics, :p , food combinations resulting in some sort of break out (remember the bacteria multiplying on pizza that’s been left out for a while), it was great!!! I got an A-. And since, it’s been one of my favorite subjects. I’m almost certain that this will be my last assignment in the military. My husband and I are both operators, he’s a fighter pilot and I’m a space officer. Our career fields don’t match and to keep our family together (planning to have another baby within the next 2 years), one of us has to get out. I’d like to be able to focus on school full time in preparation for med school but I just didn’t want to waste time while I was here. My goal is the MCAT in April 04.

    So after sleeping on it :ouch: and I’m pushing forward. Thanks again for the words of encouragement but better yet thank you for your firm understanding resulting in a concrete explanation.

    [santahat] Happy holidays

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