Note – The Alkenes Crash Course Is Now Part of Master Organic Chemistry Elite – Check it out here
Today I’d like to tell you about a little experiment I’ve been working on.
As much as possible I try to ask students what their biggest problems are in organic chemistry.
Want to know what the #1 answer to this question is?
Preparing for exams. There’s a lot of students who feel like they put in a lot of hours of study for organic chemistry, but don’t see that reflected in their grade. One common response is that the exercises in class and in the textbook didn’t prepare them for the types of problems they’ll see on exams.
The common advice I see on places like SDN is just to “do lots and lots of practice problems”. This is fine, well-intentioned advice – but to a student who is already dealing with overwhelm in their organic chemistry course and likely has commitments in other courses, the likelihood of them following this advice is close to zero. It’s like advice you’d give to someone who’s overweight: “exercise, and watch what you eat.” OK – but how? Could you maybe be a bit more specific?
It occurred to me that a well-intentioned student who wanted prepare for an exam by doing problems might be really looking for a curated problem set on a specific topic. Something which is doable in a reasonable amount of time, provides questions relevant to what might be seen on an exam, and (most importantly) ties together key concepts from different chapters in the course. Lastly – and this should be used with caution for anyone studying with practice problems – it should provide answers to each problem that clearly show the thought process for arriving at a solution – ideally, in video.
I don’t know of any resource out there for organic chemistry that really does this, in video format. Furthermore, I know that one of MOC’s big deficiencies is that there aren’t any resources for practice problems. So as an experiment, I decided to spend a significant chunk of time (>50 hours) over the past month or so, building a curated practice problem set for alkenes, with solution videos.
Now – I appreciate that many students might not have a full background necessary to approach all the practice problem right off the bat, so I thought there should be some kind of overview lesson that goes through all the most important concepts, reactions, and their key features for each section. So I recorded a 68 minute video overview lesson, based on some live webinars I ran last year.
Finally, I made some extra reference material available that gives background information on each reaction, with many examples and a detailed mechanism for each – that is, pages from the Reaction Guide. And threw in a summary sheet on alkenes to boot.
The result is essentially a crash course on exam preparation for alkenes.
This is premium material. I spend a ridiculous amount of time every year writing articles for the blog that are available for free (like the most recent series of posts on synthesis). It took dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars of my own money to build this. It’s essentially what a really dedicated professional tutor would provide, although available 24/7 through the magic of the internet. Of course, getting a private tutor to provide you with this type of preparation would cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and this is an order of magnitude less expensive.
- If you’re preparing for an exam on alkenes and their reactions
- And you are looking for a resource that will help you prepare intelligently and efficiently
- You’re willing to put in time to do some problems (this is not night-before-the-exam preparation material)
Then you would find the Alkene Practice Problem Mini Course very helpful. I even guarantee it.
P.S. If this experiment is successful, I’d like to build more courses like this on other organic chemistry topics. Suggestions welcome.