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From: (Dr. George O. Bizzigotti)
Subject: Re: Studying Organic Chemistry
Date: 28 May 1997
Newsgroups: sci.chem

On Tue, 27 May 1997 16:52:50 -0700, Uncle Al Schwartz
<> wrote:

> wrote:

>> What is the best way to prepare for Organic Chemistry this summer? I'm
>> taking it in the fall. Since many people said it is very tough (mostly
>> memorization), I want to get started right now. The chemistry
>> department  will be computerized and the old text books will probably
>> be obsolete.

>Organic chemistry flows from human consciousness like love from a mother...


As a former organic chemistry prof, may I second Uncle Al's comments
and add one or two observations of my own? Although some memorization
is required to do well at organic, much more of it comes from
practice, which gives one the ability to apply known principles to
"new" problems. The difficulty with organic stems from the number of
students who get by (or even excel) in grade school and high school by
memorizing and regurgitating facts. Organic often seems to be the
first course many students take where this approach does not work, and
they are then out of luck unless they learn a new way of approaching
their course work. What I used to find sad is that although I gave
this advice to all my students, many refused the offer, insisted on
the memorization/regurgitation approach, and through incredible
amounts of effort could pass my course with a C; many could do every
problem on my old exams but had trouble with the "new" problems I gave
them. Others tried it with the priciples/problem-solving approach,
probably expended somewhat less effort overall, got B's and A's, and
(I devoutly hope) will be able to apply what they learned in other
courses or even in life. The key is to memorize the principles that
you need, then to practice solving the problems until you learn to
think like an organic chemist (it's not so bad) so that you understand
the principles well enough to apply them with confidence.

That sermon out of the way, let me add that you can work on getting a
head start over the summer if you like, be it by reading an organic
chemistry book, or by doing crossword puzzles (or any problem-solving
practice); you can even decide to veg out over the summer so you're
fresh and ready to roll in the fall. Just don't get hung up trying to
memorize everything once you start. Understand, don't memorize.



Dr. George O. Bizzigotti                 Telephone: (703) 610-2115
Mitretek Systems, Inc., MS Z310          Fax: (703) 610-1556
7525 Colshire Drive                      E-Mail:
McLean, VA 22102-7400

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