mastering organic chemistry

7 Steps in Mastering Organic Chemistry

I will be taking about general guides on mastering organic chemistry and wilth illustrations on basic concepts I organic chemistry.

The first thing I will like to reemphasize is that organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon and its compounds.

I have written a full post on how to study organic chemistry and another detailed post on what is organic chemistry.

 7 Tips in mastering organic chemistry

1.  Carbon Catenates to form long chains

 The first thing I will like you to take note of is that carbon can for either straight or branched long chain.   Carbon has the ability to link with other carbon atoms to form long chains. This is is primary basis of organic compound formation.

We can take a look at some organic compounds:

     For example Pentane;  C5H12

                                        H     H    H   H    H


                                H     H    H    H    H

You can see how the carbon atoms linked to form this straight long chain. This is is a special property of carbon and that is why we have structural formula to show how the Carbon bonded and its orientation in space.

2. Carbon is Tetravalent

Understanding the nature of Carbon is another step that will really help you in mastering organic chemistry reactions.

Carbon is tetravalent and must either be fully bonded or surrounded with electrons to complete it

Mastering organic chemistry answers is not cramming the answers gotten but understanding the steps needed to be taken.

When writing formula of organic compounds i.e molecular formula bonds are not shown but the bonds are shown in the structural formula.

It is important to note that a structural formula is incorrect  when the travalency nature of carbon is not obeyed. I see this lot in some structures drawn by my student.

They tend to forget that carbon must be completed either with bonds or electrons.

3. Learn how write formula of compounds

You need t master how to write formula of organic compounds abd this can be made easier oonce you can deduce the model formula o the homologous series.

For example the general formulas of some homologous series are shown below with examples of members.

Please remember that to get the formula of the members of a particular series, you need to understand the nature of the formula.

For Alkanaes Homologous series

The general formula is  CnH2n+2

Methane  C1H2×1+2  = CH4

Ethane    C2H2×2+2  = C2H6

Propane  C3H2×3+2 = C3H8

Butane    C4H2×4+2 = C4H10

Pentane  C5H2×5+2  = C5H12

For Alkene Homologous series

The general formula is CnH2n

Methene does not exist so we start with ethene

Ethene  C2H2 x2   = C2H4

Propene  C3H2 x3  = C3H6

Butene  C4H2 x4  = C4H8

Pentene C5H2×5  =  C5H10

Family //Homologous seriesGeneral formulaSpecific examples
AlkynesCnH2n-2C2Hh2 -ethyne
Alkanoic acids/Carboxylic acidsCnH2n+1COOHCH3COOH-ethanoic acid
Alkanoates/EstersCnH2n+1COO CnH2n+1CH3COOCH3 –methyl ethanoate
Alkanones/KetonesCnH2n+1CO CnH2n+1CH3COCH3– Propan -2-one
Aldehydes/AlkanalsCnH2n+1CHOCH3CHO :ethanal

There are more examples of homologous series like the amides, amines, ethers etc. I have written a complete guide on organic chemistry.

5. Master the functional groups in organic Chemistry

Mastering organic chemistry reaction guide will be crucial in writing so many organic chemistry reactions.

You may really master organic chemistry reactions until you understand the concept of functional group. Organic compounds are grouped or categorized based o their functional groups.

Mastering organic chemistry check sheet involves the model reactions types each family undergoes and being able to write them.

For example

Alkanes undergo combustion, cracking and substitution reactions

Alkenes undergo combustion, substitution and polymerization\

Alkynes undergo combustion, substitution, addition and polymerization.

You ca take a look at the summary of all the functional groups in organic chemistry from how to study organic chemistry.

But this is a summary of few homologous series and functional group

Family of Organic compound/Homologous seriesFunctional group
Alkanols/AlcoholsROH(hydroxyl group)

6. Practice nomenclature of organic compounds

Another Important aspect of organic chemistry is the eneed to practice naming organic compounds. There is a need for us to practice naming of organic compounds and writing their structures.

Naming organic compounds is very simple, you only need to obey all the rules guiding nomenclature of compounds

Summary of the rules guiding organic compounds

  1. Take the longest Carbon chain
  2. Start numbering from the side the functional group is closest to the end
  3. Recognize the substituent
  4. Name the substituent in alphabetical order

7. Understand the models in organic reactions guide

 I strongly recommend that we need to understand the models in organic reactions if we want to master organic reactions patterns. Mastering organic reactions guide requires meticulous effort towards it but they are very easy to remember, we only need to do our best to ascertain the mechanism and then we will be fine

For example, we know that in addition reactions, only a single product is formed and this is a reaction peculiar to unsaturated hydrocarbons like Alkenes.

Secondly, combustions reactions could be complete or incomplete; complete combustions yield carbon IV oxide and water while incomplete combustion yields carbon II oxide and water.

So there are other emphasized facts in organic chemistry that we just need to take note of while learning organic chemistry.


Resources :

Organic chemistry pearson is a textbook that will help you with good examples and more lecture notes.

Organic chemistry by Solomon and Fryhre


Passport to Organic Chemistry-How to Pass Organic Chemistry with ease!

What is Organic Chemistry?

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