Now that we’ve gone through 12 weeks of organic chemistry, it’s going to be helpful to just put things in perspective. Here’s a list of the top 10 skills you need to have mastered, going into your final exam (not including spectroscopy).
- Be able to draw chemical structures as line drawings, and to recognize “hidden hydrogens” and lone pairs. Be able to recognize molecules when they’re drawn in different conformations or from different perspectives.
- Understand the R/S notation, and to be able to recognize molecules that are enantiomers, diastereomers, or constitutional isomers.
- How to tell the reactive areas on a molecule through using electronegativity and resonance.
- How to draw reaction curved arrows– know the legal “moves” you can do, and how curved arrows tell you about which bonds form and break as well as how the charges change.
- How to draw resonance forms, and to evaluate their stability. How to use curved arrows to interconvert resonance forms.
- Know and understand substitution reactions: the difference between SN2 and SN1; to be able to draw the product with proper stereochemistry, given starting material and reactant.
- Know and understand the relative strengths of acids and bases (at least 10 examples of each) ; how to recognize an acid-base reaction.
- Know and understand addition reactions, both to alkenes and alkynes; that every addition reaction involves breaking a C-C Pi bond, and forming two new bonds to C; keep track of the regiochemistry and stereochemistry of each, with the “3 buckets” approximation.
- Understand and recognize elimination reactions; how every elimination reaction involves forming a C-C Pi bond, and breaking two bonds to carbon; how elimination reactions are favored by heat.
- Understand: 1) what makes something a good leaving group 2) what makes a good nucleophile, 3) carbocation stability, 4) factors affecting acid strength, 5)factors affecting base strength 6) under what conditions rearrangements occur
- How to apply the patterns of each reaction you learn in the forward and reverse directions, so as to be able to do simple synthesis problems.
OK, I can’t keep things to just 10. But that covers many of the most important concepts you learn in the course.
Just one more email to go. Let’s wrap things up tomorrow.
Thanks for reading! James