whereisnic
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I'm hoping to do Higher Chemistry and Human Biology at college after the summer. I'm 38 and an ex nurse. I am currently teaching myself Nat 5 Chem. I'm almost up to speed on Unit 1 but just wondered what else I should really focus on in preparation for the higher course.
I'm about to start the organic stuff; hydrocarbons, homologous series, functional groups etc.
Any tips, advice, greatly appreciated!
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_NMcC_
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(Original post by whereisnic)
I'm hoping to do Higher Chemistry and Human Biology at college after the summer. I'm 38 and an ex nurse. I am currently teaching myself Nat 5 Chem. I'm almost up to speed on Unit 1 but just wondered what else I should really focus on in preparation for the higher course.
I'm about to start the organic stuff; hydrocarbons, homologous series, functional groups etc.
Any tips, advice, greatly appreciated!
I think Organic is best learned by treating it as a problem-solving or ''understanding'' subject like Maths or Physics. Seen many people try and do loads of memorising, they always seem to never fully grasp the subject on a deeper level.

Memorisation works for biology but at higher levels in Chemistry, if you are given a completely unseen molecule x and asked to e.g...

Find all the diastereoisomers of x and propose a mechanism for a short asymmetric synthetic route to x

...the memorisers will flounder.

You cannot possibly memorise every single reaction in Organic Chemistry, just like you can't possibly memorise every single possible maths identity or problem. There's theoretically an infinite number of both.

What you can do to make life a lot easier is to rationalise it. Organic Chemistry is logical, it's simply a different type of thinking to what you will have experienced before.

Tips

1.) Try to learn why something happens instead of simply accepting things.
2.) Practice problems, then some more and then some. You can never do enough.
3.) Try to think geometrically/visually. If you can develop the ability to of analyse the stereochemistry/regiochemistry/sterics/conformational geometry of a molecule. That mindset can help a lot in solving difficult O.Chem problems.

Pm me if you want any help with it. Doing MSci Chemistry at QUB.
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