by James

Is there any course that students complain about more than organic chemistry, “tormenter of young souls, perennial weeder of would-be doctors“? It’s been described as a beast that violates young students, and makes you sadder than you felt after watching Hotel Rwanda.

But then you hear other students describe it as “over-hyped”, “not a big deal”, and “a paper tiger“.

What do the students in the second group know that those in the first group don’t?

The Mission of Master Organic Chemistry

Hi, I’m James Ashenhurst. I founded Master Organic Chemistry to help understand the factors that make learning organic chemistry difficult, and help put this image of it as a scary subject to rest.

Around the world, introductory organic chemistry courses are extremely similar – and students everywhere hit similar mental roadblocks. What are some of the common difficulties students face in organic chemistry? How do you build a comprehensive online guide to organic chemistry that addresses these difficulties?  Building that guide is the mission of Master Organic Chemistry.

  •  Is there a systematic method by which someone of average ability but with a strong work ethic could excel in organic chemistry? Finding such a method is the mission of Master Organic Chemistry.
  •  What are some specific things you can do to transform yourself from someone who studies hard into someone who studies smart? Understanding the most efficient ways to learn the course material is the mission of Master Organic Chemistry.
  • One of the common complaints about organic chemistry is that there are a lot of overlapping trends and concepts. You have to know when to apply one trend but not another. In other words, success in solving problems requires judgement, not just rote memorization. How do you acquire that judgement? How do you rely less on memorization and more on thinking through problems? Showing you how to build that judgement is the mission of Master Organic Chemistry.
  •  Scattered over the internet are an incredible number of great online resources, including study tips from successful students, instructors’ insights, and a wealth of practice problems and tools. Where can you find a site that is devoted to sharing the best of these resources,  stories and insights? Collecting all these resources together is the mission of Master Organic Chemistry.

The mission of Master Organic Chemistry is too big for me to do by myself. If you feel that you have a contribution to make, come and join me. My work has changed for the better through the contributions of students and instructors in ways I never would have imagined. If you have any suggestions for how I can improve Master Organic Chemistry, let me know.


Siu June 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

This is FANTASTIC, James! Great for key concepts and review. That’s exactly what I need! Shamefully…

Trish September 27, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Hi James,
I’m not a student but a teacher with a background in environmental chemistry and biochemistry. I’ve taught the general chem sequence and several permutations of introductory chem classes, but never an organic class.
Now, we’re talking about offering organic at the community college where I teach, and since I am ‘the chem dept’, it will be me teaching it. I loved organic as an undergrad, but that was some time ago!
I’m in dire need of some advice on pedagogy, text/lab recommendations, content, and all that. Do you know of any resources, either online or in print, and/or have any recommendations? I’ve read through some of your posts, and I do like the way you break down and organize the material. Do you have a favorite text that you would recommend for an undergraduate, non-chem major group of students? Really, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to email me directly.

mekasatyanarayana July 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

its really useful and the way it explains a particular concept is really good.continue with u r good work.

OJ November 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

This site is awesome. I wish I found out about it earlier than just two weeks before my final, though :/

Pat Flaherty January 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Thank you for the time and effort put into this site. It is very much appreciated. I will be forwarding the URL to my group and grad students. The only recommendations I would have is to add section for people to add ” what I know now that I wish I knew then”.

ed January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

you are a life saver. I am taking this ochem 2 course after a decade out of college and this site has made a big difference for me. thank you so much.

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