Case Studies of Successful O-Chem Students

By James Ashenhurst

Success Stories: How Corina Got The The “Hard” Professor – And Got An A+ Anyway

Last updated: January 23rd, 2024 |

Does your school have that one “hard” organic chemistry instructor that most students try to avoid? Today’s success story comes from Corina, a student in Texas who got assigned the most challenging instructor and made the best of it – getting an A+ in her class. I asked her to explain some of the details of how she did it. 

What do you think was the key to your success? 

Besides a pack of dry erase markers and my white board…… and David Klein’s Textbook for sure. This is a course that you have to study on a consistent basis and its very interesting. In my class we started with 150 students and by the end of the semester 15 were left and I had the highest grade. When i told other professors my grade in Ochem they almost had a heart attack because so many students fail ochem in general. You have to love organic and want to understand it. Getting an A+ (100) in Ochem with the hardest professor and with no multiple choice feels great and very rewarding! Students would ask me for help and I would tell them no not to be rude but because i am no einstein and if I can study you can too. You have to want to learn! :)

Was there ever a time when you doubted your chances of getting a good grade? Can you describe it?

OOH YES! Every test to be honest. I was taking the hardest professor at my school and his test consist of no multiple choice. You either knew the material or you didnt because you had to draw it out. I spent hours reading and rereading the mateial to ensure i knew it. I constantly redrew mechanisms, etc. Our test covered chapters at a time and he never told us what he would cover so you had to make sure you knew everything. Eventually everything became natural because I understood the first chapters – it was a breeze after that.

What resources have you found helpful? 

I bought the reaction reagent guide and that helped a lot. Different text books use different vocabulary and may not state information another book would use. So to have all them in a printable guide really helped. The steroisomer section was the hardest for me because I couldnt imagine atoms moving but that section helped clear up a lot of questions i had. I like how i feel as if someone is talking to me personally and not just stating the facts like a text book!

What was your course load like?

Last semester I took 17 hrs & worked 40+ hrs at a pharmacy

Do you have a rough estimate of how much time you spent studying per week? 

Probably around 17 hrs a week.

Did you do anything to prepare for the course before you took it?

I made sure that I understood Chem 2!! Also, I made sure I could master resonance structures!

What’s the “reason why” for you? Why spend all this time studying and working on organic chemistry?

I am a pre-pharm major and organic is the class that ‘weeds’ people out and helps cut out competition.  So many students fail and I refused to be that student. So many people complain about how difficult the class is and especially if its a hard professor and how impossible the class is in general…. I want to be that student that will do well! I didnt take the easy way out. My teacher refused multiple choice so you either you knew it or you didn’t. So I really had to bust my butt. Currently I am taking ochem 2 and without your reagent sheet I promise I would be in tears everyday. There are so many reagents that I began to lose track of them & what they did & I was starting to doubt myself! Your website is my homepage on my mac. Its litterally the go to site. Before I start a new chapter I read the topic summary on your site before I start! Honestly your site has been a lifesaver!

Thank you to Corina for sharing her story! 

If there’s one consistent piece of study “equipment” I see students sing the praises of it’s a dry erase board. Like Kari’s recent post, and today’s student, Corina, nothing teaches you to learn mechanisms like physically writing them out.

Got an organic chemistry success story to share? Lots of people would love to hear it, and it takes 5 minutes. Click here


Comment section

1 thought on “Success Stories: How Corina Got The The “Hard” Professor – And Got An A+ Anyway

  1. Hi everyone!
    I decided to write on here about my thrilling organic chemistry adventures in my college undergraduate years. Organic 1 was actually really interesting and fun. I thought the whole process was easy and actually tutored others in most of the misunderstood concepts. I read up on lots of organic work and studied more than 30 hours a week. I think orgo gets a bad rep because it is a difficult class to take, but once you start to see the patterns and understand the concepts, it’s alot of fun. Organic 2, however, well….lets just say…it’ll definitely give you a run for your money. While orgo 1 was easy and fun to learn, organic 2 was far more rigorous because it takes concepts and adds twists and turns to it on how each compound is added to others to form new molecules and different names. Nomenclature will be a big thing, so pay attention in organic 1. If you don’t understand anything in organic 1, you are pretty much doomed for organic 2. But both classes are amazing to learn! (If you enjoy stretching your brain and chemistry) it honestly opens your eyes to a new world and understanding. Like for example, when you go to the store to buy products, like shampoo or soap or canned goods. You find yourself looking on the box at all the organic and inorganic materials, then picturing the structures in your head and how the mechanisms work, in order to create a new product. I’m actually taking toxicology this term (the study of toxic agents and poisons) because I enjoy chemistry so much, organic in particular, and I have always found toxic chemicals and agents fascinating. Like, what makes them toxic and how they effect us and our environment. Orgo is awesome!!

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