ORGANIC CHEMISTRY ADVICE
The following advice is from students who earned A's in both semesters of organic chemistry over the last 19 years. There are many other students who have valuable advice to give even if they got an A- or a C. Asking these A students seemed to be the easiest thing to do. They were asked what advice they would give to future organic chemistry students. I have copied their advice without editing content and without revealing identities. Everything is arranged chronologically (most recent students are first). I think it is best if you try to find trends in the advice rather than trying to adopt every specific suggestion they give. As many of them point out: you will have to find what works for you. Good luck!
2017Organic chemistry is a very difficult class, but it is not impossible. You should accept that you are going to struggle and not be embarrassed by that fact. There are a lot of resources and strategies that will be available to you throughout this class. These are the ones that helped me the most:
The best advice I can give is this: Make use of opportunities. Organic chem provides a lot of opportunities: group study sessions, class study sessions, office hours, or a moment of downtime in lab. Every little opportunity is a chance to improve.
First and foremost, you need to realize how much work it takes to do well. You must be disciplined to make yourself do it, but if you do, it is very rewarding. Before you take the class, sit down and figure out why you are taking it. If you hope to be a physician or a chemistry major or anything else that requires organic chemistry, remember that; it will make you work hard when you feel like giving up. While working hard is ultimately the most important thing to do, here are some ways to work smarter.
Above all, you just have to enjoy whatever it is you do. Even though staring at chemistry puzzles might not be the most exciting thing to do, you have to make it fun. Be a nerd, say things in peculiar ways and take pride in your work. If you work hard and enjoy the process, you will make great friends, become a better student and empower yourself to do things far greater than organic chemistry.
Advice for Dr. Workman’s CHE 241 & CHE 242
1. Make notecards – I found it very helpful to make notecards, especially during CHE 242. On the front of the notecard, I put the starting reactant and an arrow pointing to the final product. On the back of the notecard, I put the reagents of that specific reaction. I usually carried my notecards with me wherever I went and looked at them when I was bored or had some free time. Being able to quickly recognize reactions on the exams is very important, and having all the reactions memorized is the basis for doing well on, and fully completing, each exam.
2. Work through previous exams!!!!! – I firmly believe that this is the most important thing that you can do to get a good grade in Dr. Workman’s class. Dr. Workman tends to use the same types of questions on each exam and working through previous exams allows you to notice patterns among certain questions. In addition, being exposed to the types of questions that Dr. Workman will ask will make you work comfortable when you’re taking the actual exam.
3. Enjoy the class! – Organic chemistry is known for being one of the most difficult classes that an undergraduate can take. However, many students don’t have Dr. Workman as a professor. Personally, organic chemistry was by far my favorite class at Centre College! The class is basically a big puzzle. If you take the time to learn the basics, working through the problems can actually be fun.
4. Memorize the magic answers – Understanding the “magic answers” – hyperconjugation, induction, resonance, hydrogen bonding, dipole-dipole, London dispersion, angle strain, torsional strain, and steric strain – and being able to apply them to problems is very important in CHE 241. Usually, the answer to a problem is not a complex paragraph about stuff that Dr. Workman can see….it is a magic answer!
5. Be organized – Use a binder. Organize your notes, labs, exams, etc. When completing homework and studying for exams, organization is key. Also, I found it helpful to make a sheet that organizes the reactions by functional group (in addition to the notecards) and to make a flow chart for the E1, E2, SN1, and SN2 information.
6. Participate – Although I did not participate as much as I could have, I found that fully engaging in class is very important. First, you won’t fall asleep. It’s an 8 AM class…at times it’s hard to resist the urge to take a little power nap. Secondly, answering questions helps you to remember the topic. Don’t be afraid to give an incorrect answer in class…Dr. Workman will work with the class towards the correct answer.
7. Teamwork – Organic chemistry is a team-oriented class. Everyone has something different to offer to the class. For example, one person may be good at explaining a topic while another student has valuable information that they learned from Dr. Workman’s office hours. At times, it may be tempting to withhold ‘secrets’ that you learn from Dr. Workman’s office hours, study groups, etc, but telling others will ultimately help you learn the material even better and will help the class overall.
8. Use previous labs as templates – This applies more to CHE 242, but I was able to complete the labs more quickly when I used my previous labs as a template in regards to the format and Dr. Workman’s comments.
9. Go to the study sessions – Come with questions, practice problems, and tips that you have learned while in Workman’s office…he will call you out if you don’t share helpful information that he gave to you.
10. Use shortcuts (especially for exams) – abbreviate (Ph), don’t draw out every step in the multistep syntheses, etc.
11. Really LEARN the lab material – I lost a significant amount of points on the first two exams because I didn’t study the lab material enough.
12. Go to bed early the night before an exam – Study enough during the week so that you can go to bed early…and confidently…on Thursday night.
13. Eat breakfast – Eat breakfast on Friday morning. Try to sit by yourself or with students that aren’t cramming for the exam. You should know the material by then. Trying to learn organic chemistry the morning of the exam will only stress you out.
14. DON’T DROP THE SPINNER INTO THE NMR.
Dearest Future Organic Students,
Though genuine and helpful, a lot of the advice on this website is
quite serious and if there is something thing that I learned from this
class, it’s that you cannot take yourself seriously and that a sassy
comment on the extra credit is test-taking time well spent. So here is
some advice that will keep you sane—a simple, but (from my experience)
very effective formula for success on organic tests:
I sincerely hope that this advice was helpful and I wish each of you the best of luck. Remember that in the end, it isn’t about the grade that you earn, but about your intellectual and personal growth. It may be hard to believe, but someday you will miss the 8:00am torture sessions.
The most important piece of advice I can offer you is this:
WORK TOGETHER. That's it. Work together. Some of you may do really well on your own. You can master material just studying on your own or listening in class. This class you won't. Someone WLL be better than you at certain problems or concepts and you will need their help. You will be better at certain things and people will need your help. It doesn't matter which way it is. Just help each other out. Teaching my classmates the concepts I understood best was the best study technique for me. If I didn't understand it, I would sit down and reason through it with them. Create a shared document folder for the class to share old tests and problems that you make. It's also really helpful to have a shared document among the class to collaborate and make strategies for the test and for spreading the information Dr. Workman tells you while in his office. He may just be telling you and a few of your classmates how to solve a problem in his office, but he expects you to share it with the rest of the class.
Organic chemistry is a team sport. You and your peers are all on one team and you're playing against Dr. Workman. He's the opponent and the referee. It sounds like a conflict of interests, but he wants you guys to win. He really does.
Commit: By registering for organic chemistry you are making a commitment. You are committing your weekends, late nights, early mornings, and lots of effort into doing your best in this class. It’s a daunting task, but I can guarantee that you won’t regret all of those tedious hours of studying after you succeed in this class. Most of all, by registering for this class you are making a commitment to yourself. This is a course that can truly help determine the rest of your time here at Centre, and maybe even your entire future. You need to make a commitment to yourself that you will make all the possible efforts to succeed.
Study: This seems simple; it’s not. This isn’t a class in which you can study the night before a test and squeak by with a C+. Start studying at least a week ahead of time for exams. The week before organic exams is always a hard and stressful one, but studying with friends can make it much more productive and enjoyable. However, you have to know when to say no to your friends and have time to yourself. The night before a test should not be a stressful one, and most likely there will be lots of people stressing about the exam around campus. Leave this time to yourself to relax and review. You should NEVER be learning new material the night before an exam. And even when an exam isn’t quickly approaching, make sure to review your notes on a very regular basis so that you know what’s going on in class and can also participate.
Humble Yourself: For many people, including myself, this is one of the hardest tasks. It’s extremely difficult to admit that you truly don’t understand something, or that someone else grasps a concept better than you. You will realize that both of those are true during the first class. But while you may have no idea what is going on, Dr. Workman does and he will make sure you know it. Admit to him that you don’t understand and need help with something and he will be more than willing to give all the help you need. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in this course is having too much pride to go to Dr. Workman’s office for help. He may make you feel like an idiot, but I promise you that every hour in his office will be worth it. Neither you nor your friends know better than Dr. Workman, and you never will. He is absolutely your best resource and it is in your best interest to go to him for help when you find yourself at a dead end.
Laugh: At many times, organic chemistry sucks. You’ll want to throw your notes down and say “Screw this, I give up.” Don’t give up. Keep trucking along and make the most of the late nights and early mornings because they will make for some hilarious and great memories. It’s ok to laugh when Dr. Workman makes a joke at 8am, even when it’s at someone else’s expense (or more likely yours). Most importantly learn to laugh at yourself because when everyone else is, you might as well join in! Shake it off and go on.
Prioritize: Enjoy your time in organic chemistry and the entire semester that you’re enrolled in the course. And while this class is a huge time commitment, make sure that you don’t let in consume your life, because then all you’ll have at the end of the semester is resentment and a mediocre grade. You must determine what is most important to you at Centre and how you are going to keep up ALL of your grades, not just the one in organic chemistry. An A in organic is not worth C’s in all your other courses. Don’t let your other classes fall to the wayside just because of organic. If you learn to study efficiently and prioritize, your success will carry over into all of your courses.
Enjoy: Make the absolute best of this class. You have so much to learn and you will grow in intelligence and as a person more than you realize in the course of your time in organic chemistry with Dr. Workman.
I hope my bits of advice serve well for you. I have learned to love the class and will miss Dr. Workman’s sarcastic comments. Organic will seem daunting at first, but if you put in the time and effort and follow the advice of others—especially Dr. Workman’s and previous students’, then you will undoubtedly love the class and become one of the many to conquer Organic Chemistry.
In my experience as an organic chemistry student,
I learned many things - about reaction mechanisms, functional groups,
aromaticity, and a whole bunch of other esoteric stuff. To be perfectly
honest, I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget all of it in a few years.
However, the important lessons that I did learn will stay with me for
the rest of my time as a student. Weirdly enough, these lessons are
completely unrelated to chemistry. They have helped me not only in
organic, but also hopefully will help in my future education. Hopefully
my passing down this wisdom to you will make your life as a student
much less stressful and hectic.
First and foremost, you have to be willing to put time and effort
into learning the material to actually LEARN it. I'm convinced that
anyone can excel in any class that they want to as long as they put in
the time that is required to not only know, but KNOW the
material. I realize that this is not really a new concept, but you
would be surprised how many people just go to class, do the homework,
and maybe study for a few hours the night before a test and expect to
do well. There may be other classes where that is perfectly acceptable,
but organic chemistry is not one of them. I'm talking about spending AT
LEAST AN HOUR A NIGHT studying organic chemistry. Every night.
Since you're on the website actually reading this, then I trust that
you're one of those busybody types who lives in the library anyway, so
this should not come as a surprise to you. What do you do in that hour?
Go over notes (I did this every night), do homework, make some reaction
sheets, practice, or whatever floats your boat. If you put in an hour
or more a night, then you are constantly exposed to the material and
it'll be hard for you to forget what the hell an electrophilic aromatic
substitution is. You will have already seen it a million times. I also
got to class 10 minutes early every day so I could go over the notes
from previous classes as a kind of 'chemical calisthenics' warm-up
exercise. And yes, “Chemical Calisthenics” is a rap by Blackalicious,
I'm not really that clever.
Mmk, so you want to know what else I did? I practiced. After that, I practiced. Then, I did some more practicing. Did I mention that I practiced? WERE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE. Now that I have your attention, I'll tell you what I mean. See those problems at the end of every chapter in your textbook? You don't have to do them. How awesome is that? Well I can tell you how awesome your grade will be on your next organic test if you don't do them – not very. Use those for practice, and go to Dr. Workman with any questions about the problems if you have them. When was the last time you actually looked at some of your professors' old tests? Yeah, I never did before organic either. Old tests are your friend. Ran out of things to practice? No you haven't. Make up some problems yourself, and send them to your classmates! There is nothing that will help you learn organic chemistry (or really anything) better than by making your own problems and teaching others how to do them. There's no such thing as “I don't know how to study the material” in organic chemistry. You just have to practice. We're not talking about a game, just practice. And yes, I do realize that that was just another crappy reference.Well I'm getting tired of typing and you're probably getting tired of reading this, so I'll give you one last nugget of wisdom before I let you make your first step into the unfettered realm of organic chemistry. My advice is this: seek help from others. You are probably not going to be able to learn organic chemistry all by yourself. Visit Dr. Workman's office hours, as he is more than willing to help clear up any questions that you may have as long as you are patient with him. Utilize the fresh perspectives of your classmates, because they may just have the last piece to your unsolvable puzzle. If you do not attempt to work with others, then I can almost guarantee that you will not do as well as if you did. However, if you are one of those rare everything-comes-easy-for-me know-it-alls, then do the rest of the class a favor and help them out. Like I said before, you will only be able to have complete mastery of the subject when you are able to teach it other people, and that pretty much guarantees that shiny 'A' next to organic chemistry on your transcript. Good luck, and remember – do not memorize... internalize.
My test approach:
You should be studying from the very first day of class by taking excellent notes and going over your notes again before every class. Throughout the weeks, I would build up a strategy sheet of how to work specific problems I had seen in homework problems. I would start collecting old exams a week and a half before the exam. Starting on Wednesday, I would also work the suggested homework problems for all the chapters on the exam. If I had questions on the homework, I would get to his office before the weekend. Over the weekend I worked as many tests as possible and talk to other people in my class about how they approached it and we would even do some together. I also refined my strategy sheets to be more specific. My goal was to get my speed built up. I would work through one test at a time to get a feel for what problems came when. Monday and Tuesday I would work with another classmate going into Workman’s office and asking particular questions about the tests he would answer questions on. By Wednesday night I liked to be fully prepared for the study session and ready to sit back and see different methods other students use that may help me. Thursday is when I relax and go a little slower. I didn’t like visiting Workman on Thursday because it was always crowded and I couldn't get any answers. Get plenty of rest. Wake up early on test day and go to breakfast. Sit by yourself and work a small worksheet you made up yourself the night before. Go over strategies then relax and take a few minutes to breathe and calm yourself before going into class. You will do great!!!
Top Ten Ways to Survive Organic Chemistry
Number 10 – Learn to Laugh. Doctor Workman will make fun of you and everyone else in the class. This is something you will either accept and take with a light heart and make the class fun or you will hate it and hate the class. The former is so much better.
Number 9 – Go to Workman's Office Daily. You only have three hours a week actually in class to learn the material and there are twenty other people in the class. Going to his office will give you more personal time with him and he can explain the material (which you will not understand the first time) directly to you.
Number 8 – Do Old Tests. Pester previous years students for tests. You will scour the campus for test and will feel like you don't have enough. It is always good to have more examples of the problems on each test. Don't do anything older than seven years because the material on each test will have changed.
Number 7 – Ask for problems from the Book – This may seem a little masochistic at first, asking for more organic homework but after the first test you will realize that you want as many examples of each problem that you can get. Go to Workman and he will be happy to oblige you. Many of his test problems are very similar to book questions so it will be just another source of experience with the problems that he will ask. This is especially important in the second semester where you will not have large amounts of problems assigned.
Number 6 – Make friends in class. Studying in groups makes it more fun and the time to pass faster.
Number 5 – Take Good Notes. Sounds really cliché, I know, but it is very important. After the first test you will realize the notes you took are useless. This is not a normal class so you will have to find a way to take notes that best serves your learning style.
Number 4 – No all-nighters before a test. The only thing they will accomplish is for you to be too worn out for the test at 8 AM.
Number 3 – Magic Answers will be your life. All of my associates on this page will tell you the same thing so I will start off. Make the magic answers your life, a two page answer without them will get you less points on a test than a two sentence answer using them correctly. By the end of the two semesters you will be using them in normal conversation without realizing it.
Number 2 – You know nothing, accept it. This is a completely new field of study for anyone. If you had some organic in high school accept the fact that you still know nothing. Let Doctor Workman teach you and you will look back at the first test and think “wow, that was so easy.”
Number 1 – Base Grabs a Proton. You will figure that out eventually.
P.s. Never tell Dr. Workman something he can see.
Do these things.
A note on Dr. Workman's Organic Class: Why this class is different (and better…or worse) than any of your other Centre courses
Tips for the first semester:
Tips for the second semester:
• If you have survived to this point, you no longer need my help.
I learned to love the class and am sad to see it go. That is the real key to doing well. I wish you all the best of luck on the quest (you'll understand later).
A Few Tips:
How to not fail Dr. Workman's organic class:
Go to his office every time that you have an assignment.
Start studying atleast a week and a half before a test.
Before tests get up early and go to breakfast.
Make friends with everyone in your class, studying with others is very useful.
Don't skip class, but it isn't the end of the world if you accidentally over sleep once.
Don't answer questions by telling Dr. Workman something he can see.
Pay attention and participate in class, even if you feel stupid.
Don't expect this to be easy or a small time commitment, but it is definitely doable.
Memorize the magic answers.
Talk about his cat, Smithers.
Get labs done before the last minute so that you can go to office hours if you need help. Even if Dr. Workman isn't your lab teacher, he can help you with your lab reports.
Some Keys to Success in Organic Chemistry
Simply enough, you can never start too early in preparation for the exams or anything else in this class. This will be unlike any class you've ever taken, but it is to your benefit to learn to never let yourself get behind. Go to Dr. Workman's office from the beginning. You will be forced to endure his sarcasm, yes, but he really cares about the success of all of his students, especially those who prove themselves dedicated to doing as well as they possibly can. Seeking his help is the key to doing well in the class for the vast majority of people.
Working old exams is another key to success. Homework is barely even the beginning of what you'll be tested over. The old exams will demonstrate to you the underlying concepts that Dr. Workman is trying to get you to grasp – the simple chemistry of the reactions are the easy part. You will not see the patterns mentally until you work the same types of problems over and over and over. Repetition and speed are essential (few people get done with the tests until right around when time expires)!
Lists of reactions, lists of strategies for working exam problems, and condensed versions of your notes are very, very useful. You will see how much so as you get further into the course. Lists of your faults can be important too. If you mess up, write down what you did, why, and how it should be done. Again, it's never too soon to start doing these things. Dr. Workman will be glad to look over your lists and notes on your work and see if you're missing any essential concepts in relation to the particular type of problems you are doing.
Lastly, this course will be hard. Get over it. It will take dedication, some of your social life, and some of your pride as well. But there's a lot to get out of the experience in all truth. Just work hard and be ready to laugh at your own stupidity (other people will be laughing at your expense many times, especially Dr. Workman). It can be a lot of fun if you don't let the stress get to you.
Make notes on your homework because you are not going to remember
what you were thinking about when it is time to study for the test.
Be sure to go into his office for homework. His room is never too crowded. I probably went in to see Workman every day to make sure I knew what I was doing.
You can't trick Workman. It just doesn't happen so don't try.
You should only be looking at the last three tests which are the
2008, 2006 and 2005 exams. There is nothing more pointless than looking
at tests from years like 2003 and 2002 because so much has changed
Start working on the first test two weeks ahead of time because you want almost all of it done a week in advance.
Try to get all the problems on one test finished before you look at another test.
Be able to do the first three problems in less than 10 minutes because those are the easiest three questions on the test.
Save one older test and take it the day before the exam. It helps to see exactly what you need to work on.
You need to be capable of completing the old tests in half an hour. If you can't then you are thinking too much and you do not have that luxury on the real exam.
In the end, finding a way to enjoy the class is the best way to do well.
1. Go into Dr. Workman's office! Even if you are scared or nervous,
just do it, I promise you will be glad you did. Along with that, don't
wait until the day before a test to go in, start getting help as soon
2. Make friends in your class! The best studying I did happened when I worked with people. Collaborate and share what you have all individually learned in Dr. Workman's office.
3. Work as many tests as you can. Find previous students and get all of their old tests. Then practice, practice, practice! Generally, I would work the most recent exam the weekend before a test and then go into Dr. Workman's office that Monday morning to get help with it. Then, I would do every possible exam I could before the big day.
4. Don't freak out during a test. Just skip problems you can't do and come back to them later. Try to answer the questions that are worth the most amounts of points first.
5. MAGIC ANSWERS! I realize every other student has probably already gone over this, but I think it is a point that can never get enough emphasis.
6. Enjoy this class. Even though you may feel like it consumes your life for the next two semesters (which it probably will), try to have fun with it because you might actually be sad when it's finally over.
Right now! Hey! It's your tomorrow. Come on, it's everything!
The previous words are those of the Van Halen Song, “Right Now.” No, Organic Chemistry is not your “everything,” although if you are reading this advice it very well might be your tomorrow, and your day after tomorrow, and your two days from tomorrow…. For the next couple of semesters.
Really, listening to a key playlist ending with Van Halen's “Right Now” in the moments before every exam was the real key to my success. If you want more detailed advice, see below.
The heavy hitting items:
• Go to Workman for help, as much as possible. Even if you think you know the material, still go to Workman for help. He will show you one of three things: you really don't know the material, you are really not fast enough at the material to do well on a test, or you are ready to make up your own problems that will expand your knowledge.
• Know the magic answers: every one of his questions boils down to these things. They are know secrets, he will tell you what they are, you just have to know how to apply them.
• Make reaction sheets to summarize the notes you take in class: These sheets should be organized by type of reactions (for example, reactions with alkenes and all the ways you know to manipulate them could be on one page). This is a good way to have your whole “arsenal” at the tip of your fingers, and it makes you more prepared for when he calls you out in class on a synthesis problem.
• You should start studying for his tests at least a week and a half to two weeks ahead of time.
• By the Weekend before the Friday test, you should have all of the class material MASTERED: Knowing the class material is a great way to get a C- on one of Workman's tests. From here, you need to know all the crazy ways that Workman will mix and match those reactions to test you. See below, the first time you see one of Workman's old tests you will swear that the material you have done in no way prepares you to take this test.
• Work as many old tests as you can possibly get your hands on, then re-work them all until you are twice as fast. Workman will tell you not to get into this game. This is false information, this game is amazing and effective. You have to know how Workman thinks and how he tests. What you shouldn't do is think that a problem will show up again, it won't. However, specific reactions within problems will mix and match and show up again within larger problems. Working old tests is the best way to expand your “tool box.” After that, make up your own problems or work with your friends.
The Big Day.
You should be ready for his test by the Wednesday before the Friday it is on. You should then spend Thursday just reviewing and sharpening your speed. Quit studying at 8pm or so the night before. Watch a TV show, and then go to bed. The next morning, go to breakfast at 7. Drink a cup of coffee (I recommend fair trade organic), and listen to your iPod. Talk to no-one. People will be freaking out. Do not freak out. Do not turn off your iPod until the moment Workman passes out the test. The actual moments of testing should be quite anti-climactic. If you studied right, you should be done 20 minutes before anyone else, you should spend 10 minutes checking your work, and then you should go take a nap, you earned it.
Oh, and don't forget the Van Halen.
Advice for Future Generations of Organic Students
I am in a unique position to offer advice on success in Dr. Workman's organic classes because I know how to come within three points of acing or failing one of his tests. Organic chemistry requires a monumental effort in order to be successful. You will find that much of organic chemistry is about putting in the hours required to master the material, so I will offer a timeline with some tips that will hopefully be of use. First and foremost, I would remind you that four hours of credit is four hours of credit. Making an A in Dr. Workman's class will not compensate for eight hours of C's in your other classes.
That being said, here is an organic timeline:
-Keep two notebooks—take class notes in one, and afterward, write reactions and other things to be memorized in the other. With two notebooks, you'll stay on top of things and have a study guide already prepared at the end.
-Memorization sucks, but you need to do it. Daily. To get an A, you don't to be fluent in the language, you need to be a poet.
-Go to Dr. Workman for help. Waiting until the week before the test is suicide.
Two Weeks before the Test
-Oh yeah, two weeks before. Master the material in the class notes. My best test grades came when I had the class material mastered a week ahead of time.
-Gather up old tests. Pester former students, break into sorority house test files, looking at old tests is the second best indicator of how you'll perform. The first time you look at a test, you'll swear you've never been taught the material. Go to Dr. Workman for help.
One Week before the Test
-Talk to Dr. Workman about a strategy guide. The test, just like the class, is about time. You don't have time to think—you need to know.
-After making the strategy guide, make up your own problems for the test. The ability to predict problems and develop your own test is the best indicator of how you'll perform. Show it to Dr. Workman. He'll show you how to make it harder (tips) and one of your problems might end up on the test (sweet).
-Schedule a study session for the class. At the study session, talk strategy. Working individual problems is inefficient most of the time. Leave early, you should know everything already.
-If you need help, go to Dr. Workman's office: sleep there, eat there, live there. He'll kick you out when you've got it down or when he wants to go play racquetball.
-Go to sleep early, cramming is futile, you should be done studying by the study session.
-Go to breakfast with your iPod (eye of the tiger), talk to no one (freak-outs), and work a few practice problems to get warmed up (have to be speedy for the test).
* If you ever find yourself crunched, the best way to cram is by
working with Dr. Workman. His sarcastic comments and all the questions
you'll hear from your classmates will let you know how far behind you
are, but avoiding his office to escape ridicule is the fastest way to
the bottom of his grade sheet.
Advice for Organic Chemistry
Yes, Dr. Workman is cynical and no he doesn't care whether or not you like him, are afraid of him, or are just indifferent about him. What he does care about (whether it is apparent or not) is that you achieve to a level that you are capable of in his class. With this in mind, the following tips should be useful.
You should frequent Dr. Workman's office for help on homework and to enrich your understanding of Organic.
Even if you think you understand everything, go to his office. The reason being is that you probably don't know as much as you think you know. And even if you are getting the problems right, you are most likely entirely too slow and will not be able finish one of Dr. Workman's tests within the time limit. Dr. Workman can and will show you more efficient means of working the problems.
Ask for good problems from the textbook to work on as you are learning new material. Don't wait until a week before the test, because the problems will pile up and bury you alive.
Stay on top of your work, as far as learning concepts and mastering certain types of problems. The material right before tests is often the most difficult and most prominent on exams, getting behind will make learning and mastering this very hectic the week of an exam.
You should start really studying for your exams about a week before the exam (see other advice for methods of studying). You really should only need three good practice tests to prepare you for one of Dr. Workman's tests, anymore is just excessive and you are just trying to memorize answers to old tests. The same problem will not be on the new test, so this is futile.
When studying the old tests, you should look for and categorize the variety of ways that Dr. Workman can modify problems to make them seem tricky. His tests are made to force you think and the material learned in class will be stretched to its limit on the exam. Understanding the ways Dr. Workman can tweak basic problems will give you a fuller understanding of the material and make the tests less of a surprise.
GO TO DR. WORKMAN'S OFFICE AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STUDY SESSIONS!!!!!!!
DO NOT :
Before the exam:
During the exam:
After the exam:
Things you need to know (and do) to do well in Workman's class
Workman is Sarcastic and Insulting
Expect it, accept it, and move on. He is mean to everyone and it doesn't mean he doesn't like you, according to Workman every one is stupid.
He wants everyone to do well and will help you get the grade you want if you work for it.
Do the Homework
It isn't there just for kicks, and this doesn't mean do your homework in the morning before class, it won't work.
Learn the Magic Answers
They are the answers to most of the questions Workman asks. They will be your friend.
Study Early and Study Right
You need to be studying for exams at least a week in advance. Make strategy sheets, look over old tests, ask for book problems, and then ask Workman if you are preparing correctly. If you're not he will tell you.
If all Else Fails Ask for Help
Go to his office, ask questions. He will help you.
Simple Advice for the Organic Challenge
Organic Chemistry is unlike any other class offered at Centre. Understanding is essential for success. The class demands you to understand the How and the Why instead of simply memorizing the What and When. With that in mind, I offer my personal strategy for Organic studying. To prepare for exams, write a study guide with any new concepts and reactions covered in class. Using an old test, identify the types of problems being asked. In your study guide, generate a strategy to solve each type of problem. The strategy should include questions to ask yourself when working the problem, all potential or magic answers, and any mistakes you have made with this type of problem in the past. Ask Dr. Workman to look over your study guide on the Monday or Tuesday before a Friday exam. He will point out any weak points. With your study guide approved, work through a few old exams. Try to increase your understanding of the types of problems being asked. Design similar problems of your own to expand your understanding and develop new variations not in old exams. It is likely some of these will appear on the exam. Last, enjoy the class.
First of all, the sooner you get to know Workman and understand his ways of teaching, the better off you will be. He is unlike any professor you have ever had or probably ever will have. He is both sarcastic and insulting. Do not take anything that he may say personally. Whether you believe it or not, he wants people to learn and do well in his class. Throughout my two semesters of Organic Chemistry there was not one time that he failed to answer one of my many questions.
Keys to success
Workman's class in general
*You are stupid
Everyone entering organic chem. is stupid. The subject is a foreign language to all of you. Just know that everyone around you is also completely ignorant, so don't feel bad. You need to ask for help when you don't understand something, because you won't understand everything.
*Organic is only one class
Although organic chemistry will be more time consuming than most other classes, it only counts for 4 hours. It will be easier for some than for others. Try your best, but if it doesn't come as easily, don't kill yourself, you still have 2 or 3 other classes.
*Grading is scaled, not curved
A common misconception about Workman's class is that tests are curved. This is false. Curves are the result of unexpected results and are usually bell-shape with a set amount of students receiving each grade. Workman knows his exams are difficult, so he has an adjusted scale (roughly a 13-14 point scale), meaning others' scores have no bearing on yours.
How to study for and take Workman tests
*Work old tests, but only after you understand the material
This is very important. Old tests are a good way to judge if you can complete tests on time and to learn the exact format of the test you are about to take (your tests will be similarly patterned to last year's exams). However, do not start working old exams until you feel as if you know enough material to take the real exam. You will get more out of working old exams if you have studied than if you haven't studied much yet.
Other students will have tests and will be making problems. Mooch off of them and share whatever you might have. Be warned, however, that SAEs and ADPis have every old test going back to the 1930's or something. Use old exams no more than 2 years old .
*Use the magic answers
The magic answers are listed all over this page. Especially in Organic I, use them in your explanations when answering test questions.
You do not get more points for writing everything you know about a problem. In fact, you will likely say too much. Answers should be brief. Make use of abbreviations, Doc will figure out what you mean.
*Workman doesn't discriminate
Joe does not discriminate; he hates all of you equally.
*Workman is honest
He won't lie to you about what is or isn't on exams, your intelligence, how ugly you are, how arrogant you are, etc.
*Workman wants to help…most of the time
Dr. Workman always wants you to learn the material. He might be in a pissed off mood and not lead you as easily to the answer; but, he still wants you to reach your organic climax.
If all else fails, at least you were smarter than those who couldn't make it past general chemistry.
Defeating Organic Chemistry (or the illusion thereof)
1. First and foremost, you need to memorize the following magic
answers. They are magic because when you say them, you can turn water
into wine and other cool stuff. Actually, they are simply the answer to
the majority (read: 95%) of the questions Workman will ask first
semester. When all else fails, these will be the answers to the
questions on the tests (at least in first semester). You need to write
them down. Carry them with you. Think about them while you are working
out or eating in Cowan. Know them like your friends' names.
A. Dipole-Dipole, London Dispersion, Hydrogen Bonding. Use these when talking about MP, BP, etc.
B. Resonance (the most common answer, hands down), Induction (2nd most common), Hyperconjugation (only use this one in 1st semester). Use these when you want to discuss very important things, like why certain molecules are more stable than others.
C. Angle Strain, Steric Strain, Torsional Strain. These concepts are difficult at first. But play with your models, and make Workman explain it to you again. Eventually, you will visualize these things as 2nd nature.
D. Base grabs a proton. Base always grabs a proton. What does a base do? Yes, it does in fact grab a proton. Just repeat this in your head, and you will never encounter a mechanism that is too far out of your league.
2. Work hard. A good grade in Workman's class does not come easily. It requires you to start studying a week in advance, at minimum. Here is a countdown of how you should be studying for tests.
1 1/2 weeks before the test: You should be gathering your resources. Workman is usually finished with the new material by this day. In other words, he is saying, "Start studying--NOW!" I would be gathering all old tests, rewriting my notes (crucial), and asking him for book problems by now. When he says, "there are plenty of great book problems," that means there are, and they are going on the test. In addition, hit up his office towards the end of the week to start going over any questions you may have.
Weekend before the test: You should be using this weekend to your advantage. Many of you will probably have other science tests in the coming week as well. It will be a tough week--get over it. You can sit and worry about it or you can use your time valuably. Study for those tests, but work on organic. You need to complete the book problems this weekend and go through at least one practice test. Take your time on this practice test--get a feel for what is going to be on there. In addition, go through some of the problems in your notes and from the homework if you have time.
Monday or Tuesday afternoon: Take in the book problems and an old test or two (that you have already worked) and go over it with him. Ask any questions about problems that troubled you or took you a long time. He will give you a strategy. You need to have strategies for every problem. You do not necessarily have to write them down (I only did it three times in both semesters), but if you don't, you will need to have worked enough problems to have the strategy be second nature.
Tuesday or Wednesday night: You need to have looked at all the old tests by now. You should be familiar enough with the types of problems to complete a test in under an hour (easily). Repeat the tests if necessary--not to be familiar with the problems, but to be familiar with what each type of problem requires of you. Knowing that is a surefire way to do well and finish in time. Go to the review session and stay the whole time--listen to other peoples' questions and pay attention. This is the most useful part because other people are probably confused about the same things you are. If you have time, quiz other people with some problems you have made up.
Thursday (T minus 1 day): Things should be solid for you by now. If you have any questions for Workman, they should be answerable in a sentence or less and it should take you only a minute or two to talk to him. Don't spend the day in his office--other people, who did not prepare like you did, will be in there panicking. You do not want to panic, because that will throw off the mad organic game that you are running on this upcoming test. Go to the review session if you need to, but do not stay the whole time. Come, ask a question, help a few people who might be struggling with a concept you know fairly well, and then say goodnight to all. Then take off to work out, jog, or do something else to burn off any excess energy. You will find yourself getting very nervous--this is why you must burn off energy. You need a full night's sleep.
In addition, prepare a little " warm up sheet " for you to do the next morning. You should include on this warmup sheet a) 1-2 fill-ins b) one mechanism c) a synthesis problem . They can be problems from old tests--you just need something to jump start your brain in the morning.
Friday (the Day): You need to get up at about 6:45 to give yourself adequate time to wake up and get your mind in gear. Get up, take a shower, then work out your warm up sheet before you leave the room--You need to be out of your room by 7:15-7:25 at the latest. Go to Cowan and get a nice, nutritious breakfast. SIT BY YOURSELF. Anyone who is still cramming is only going to throw off what you have worked so diligently to learn up until now. You cannot "cram" for organic--you have to know it, because you are going to encounter things you have never seen before. People who are cramming probably don't know the material as well and will only lead you astray from the path of organic righteousness.
Go into the test relaxed (as difficult as it may sound). Workman will show something funny or play some intimidating music, but it is all because he is trying to get you to loosen up a bit. Enjoy the pregrame festivities. Remember, Workman is already impressed by your studying abilities, if you have been working hard. He respects you enough to dress up in shirt and tie that day. He knows you have worked hard. Take the test, fill in every answer!!!, and leave a bit worried. You will know your score by the afternoon, so relax, knowing you have just taken a pretty difficult exam.
3. If you aren't satisfied with how you are doing, talk to Workman. He will help you do well--he wants all of his students to do well.
4. Enjoy the ridicule. It is part of the Workman experience. It will be frustrating at times, and you might want to throw things at him, but in the end, you will be tougher for it.
5. Resonance explains the Trinity. Think about it.
6. One arrow at a time for acid catalyzed, two arrows at a time for base catalyzed, remember to have water attack for hydrolysis.
7. When it all comes down to it though, you just need to think 10 steps or more ahead. Start doing that now. Start examining your life and see where you need to be 10 minutes from now. How will you get there? Think of the steps. Ask yourself, "what if I alter this and that, how will it affect where I am ten minutes from now?" The key to organic chemistry is being able to see the big picture and to see it in the distance. You will not be able to get anywhere in organic if you only memorize reagents. This isn't CHE 132. Know how your reagents are going to change things and when you should use them. See where you need to get your molecules and what it is going to take to get there: a hydrogenation? hydroxylation? reduction? carbon-carbon bond formation? If you can see what you need to do, then you are more likely to formulate a plan to get there. This is why Workman likes the strategy sheet--it makes you see the big picture and it trains you mentally to see where you need to go.
The road will be tedious, exhausting, and nowhere related to easy. But completing this course will be one of the most satisfying things you will ever complete. Best of luck to all of you--you are going to enjoy the class. Workman is an expert and teaches it on par with anyone else in the country. If you have friends at other schools who have taken organic, you will be extremely happy with how much better you know organic then they do. They probably just memorize mechanisms. You know how to do them. Be satisfied, as this class is what you are paying the big bucks for. And don't worry so much about the grade, it only has medical, dental, optometry, or graduate school riding on it. Just kidding, but this class might help solidify or change your perspectives about what you want to do with life. So kick back, hit the books, and enjoy the organic series. You'll miss it when it's gone.
The Organic Trick
The trick to making a good grade in organic chemistry is to treat it like a game, not a class. When you realize that tests are nothing more than puzzles, and that each test has a strategy in order to solve it, you'll do fine. The material is not hard, but it is time consuming. With that said, there are a few things that have to be done to get you ready for the game.
First, get your hands on old tests. The only way to study for Workman's tests is by doing old tests. He makes the problems several times harder than anything you'll see in your book. Therefore, in order to be ready, you need to be familiar with what he is throwing at you. Don't wait till the last night to study, you won't do well. When working through old tests, make a strategy sheet for each type of problem. This seems to help.
Second, do your homework. Not only will it help you understand the material, but Workman won't help your lazy ass if you aren't putting forth any effort.
Thrid, get help when you need it. Workman is notorious for helping students during office hours. If you don't understand something, and you don't go to his office, it's your fault. Some students would go every day for help, so don't be afraid. Also, when you're in his office, make up some good problems...he just might throw it on the test.
Last, don't be afraid of Workman. He can come off as an intimidating, cold-hearted bastard, but don't be fooled. He is honestly concerned about everyone's understanding of the material, and wants to see everyone do well. So expect his witty comments, and don't take them serious.
Relax. For some, this class will be easy and for some it will be impossible. It's not the end of the world, so don't freak out before each test. Enjoy
The class is hard and you won't know anything at the start, so
everyone starts out stupid. If Dr. Workman makes fun of you for
your stupid answers its because he likes you or likes your
effort. If by second semester you are still getting made fun of
for your stupid comments, it's not because he likes you it's because
you shouldn't have taken the class or should have studied more.
So do your best and just have fun with it. And just remember Dr.
Workman wants you to succeed.
The prospect of advising you on a matter as intricate and personal as learning is a daunting task. While these tips and strategies may not work for you, they may provide a starting place from which you can personally modify. First, learn (or force) yourself to like learning. Make organic and your other classes something that you are genuinely interested in. If you are not interested in the material, transfer.
Developing a genuine interest is harder than doing well on the exams. My preparation regarding the exams went as follows: start preparing about a week before and do most of the studying 2-4 days before Friday (the exam date). At the beginning of the week, Dr. Workman will be most accessible and in his most helpful mood. This is a good time to talk to him. Also, I didn't feel bound to creating a strategy sheet or other various materials for every exam; however, if you are having trouble finding a place to begin, creating a strategy sheet is helpful (see Dr. Workman for specifics).
Finally, have fun in organic. Dr. Workman's class will be something that you always remember. If you're not a natural organic chemist, but you devote yourself, Dr. Workman will reward the effort with good marks.
Advice for New Organic Students
Class: Go to class, participate, and have fun. Dr. Workman is a funny guy and a great teacher, though sometimes abrasive. If he picks on you, don't get offended. If he picks on you more than anyone else you may get the "Most Abused Student Award." Never fall behind on homework, labs, or studying. Start studying for the final on the first day of class.
Work in groups: Form a study group to work on homework and study for tests. Bounce your ideas off of each other. You may be surprised when that off-the-wall idea your friend had was actually correct. Go over old tests together, and make up problems for each other. Don't miss the opportunity to teach other students . If you teach the material to your classmates, you'll end up solidifying your own understanding of it. Teach each other within your group, or, even better, regularly meet with another student who is having trouble, and tutor them. You can help them out while improving your own skills.
Seek to understand: Dr. Workman's exams test your understanding by asking you to solve a problem with aspects you've never seen before, so complete understanding is important. Find the magic answers on this page and understand what they mean and how they work. Don't abuse group work. Make a hard effort to understand the problems in the homework rather than just getting the answers.
Finally, just relax. Not all the horror stories you've heard about organic chemistry are true. It will be hard and very time consuming, but if you put in a hard effort, you'll be fine. Also, if you haven't looked at Dr. Workman's grading scale, do so; you may find some comfort in it. (Don't take advantage of it, however.)
How to Deal and Succeed with Workman's Organic
Make Organic a Part of your life.
You have chosen to enroll in this class. Whether you like it or not, you will have to miss parties and hanging out with friends. Deal with it and accept it. To do well, you need to do something related to organic everyday whether that is reading notes or doing problems. Also remember you are in Workman's Organic. So while it is sometimes helpful to review notes and concepts with other professor's students, I found that the only good use of my time was studying with Workman's other students.
Find the Magic Answers. Use Them. Have them near you at all time
Almost every question Workman asks can be answered by understanding these 9 concepts. Don't just memorize them but have a working understanding of them. Try to visualize what each of them means. Remember sometimes two magic answers might be working at the same time. I always grouped the magic answers by:
Master Workman's Tests
I knew I was ready for a test when I could do every problem on old Workman Tests, every homework problem, and every recommended book problem easily. I found that the students who did well could generally see what Workman was testing us on at the first glance of a problem. When working on old tests, I found it easier to group problems from each years' exams that tested similar concepts instead of grouping problems by year. Workman is a creature of habit. Also, the students who generally pulled the A's could make up problems on their own (I had problems with this though). Answer every question on the test – you'll get some points.
Don't be intimidated. You need to hang out with Workman.
If you don't feel comfortable around Workman, Suck it up. If you think he hates you, just ask. Workman wants people to do well otherwise he would not invest as much time as he does. There is no way to avoid Workman knowing your progress and understanding of the material. In fact, he can probably predict what you will get on your tests. If you have read all the advice, 99.9% of the people have said that you need to be in Workman's office often and almost everyday before tests.
Grading is subjective.
Workman will bump your grade if you invest the effort. Even if you mess up on tests, if you know material in his office he will realize you are working.
Make Study Guides
Put all reactions, all mechanisms, etc in easily referenced packets. If you do this throughout the year, you won't have to do it for the final. Also, these aids serve as good study material the night before tests.
Recognize General patterns.
Organic is considered hard because you are tested on what you know and how you think. The test questions will be unique and your best hope is often to go with what you know.
Never skip class. Never get mad if you answer a question wrong in class. Never wear a hat. Never take Workman's jokes personally.
So not everyone will get an A. Some people will do bad . Some people will do okay. Just remember that this is one class. If you study and actively participate in the class you should be fine. Sleep and stay calm before tests. Watch movies the night before the exam. The best feelings you will have this year are the nights after tests and the night after your final.
The Organic Oath
I, __________ (state your name), having enrolled in Organic Chemistry of sound mind, do hereby swear to abide by these tenets throughout the semester.
First, I will attend all classes, even at eight o'clock Friday morning, and be prepared for any questions about the previous notes. I also promise to participate during class.
I will study continuously throughout the semester, allowing no time for notes to build up.
I will never begin to study for a test the day before. Try a week beforehand.
Under no circumstances will I study for a test with a group (quizzing each other on reactions or IUPAC names is acceptable, but only as a study supplement).
I will always, always, work through at least one old exam a few days prior to a test.
I will make a strategy sheet before each test, and save them for the final.
Finally, and above all, I will not be too intimidated by Dr. Workman to ask him questions and basically live in his office. If he doesn't want me there, I know he'll tell me to leave.
Therefore, having taken these bylaws to heart, I thus sign my name and hope for the best.
The Idiot's Guide to an A in Organic Chemistry
Take good notes in class. Many of the examples he uses may appear in one form or another on the tests. In these notes you will have many different reactions and mechanisms that will be important. Make a chart with each specific type of reaction and mechanism and memorize those.
Do ALL homework, do it well, and do it as soon as possible. Even if
you think you can do it, do not put it off. Instead, go to his office
and sit down and do the homework in his office. If you don't understand
something, ask him and he will help you. He will not give you the
answer. If you try to figure it out, he will guide you to the answer
and may even confirm if it is correct. It may take an hour, but he will
not let you leave stupid unless you convince him you are stupid. If you
still are having trouble, ask for other problems that are similar and
he will give them to you for practice.
Get a hold of a few old tests from past students or fraternity and sorority test files. Ask other students and they will know how to get them. Try to do these problems on separate sheets of paper so you are not tempted to look at the older student's answer as they may have been wrong. Take the tests to his office for help (he encourages the use of old tests for studying). DO NOT TRY TO MEMORIZE EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM!!! That includes problems on old tests and from homework. There are old tests you may come across that span 10 years of Dr. Workman's reign that will be very useful, but it will be impossible to memorize them all in the short time you have to study. Instead learn the CONCEPTS involved with each type of problem. You will find that each test is similar to other old tests in format and composition. Get to know this format and composition and look for similarities among problems in each section. Also, from the similarities, come up with a strategy sheet outlining the strategy for completing each type of problem. Have Dr. W. look over this sheet and he may help you make it better. Also, get plenty of sleep the night before because doing well is all about being alert and ready for anything. On the test itself, if you can't get a problem, move onto the next, then go back later. Good time management is key to completing all the problems….. idiot . Don't hesitate to ask for advice from him about studying for tests. Last of all, don't be an ass clown and wait until 2 nights before to start studying. Start at least a week in advance and when you get out of the test and all of your friends are crying and planning their suicides, you'll be quietly laughing to yourself.
Advice for Dr. Workman's Organic class
Organic chemistry is not like any other class offered at Centre, and this naturally presents a problem for most people in the beginning because they are not accustomed to thinking like an organic chemist. Therefore, expect to be a little frustrated and overwhelmed by the information given to you the first couple of weeks because I certainly was. Don't let this news be too discouraging however, because soon you will discover that everyone is frustrated and overwhelmed just like you; and the class's collective ignorance will become a source of great amusement. Unfortunately, this general information will not help you very much in getting an A in the course; so here was my general strategy in preparing for an organic test.
• Do all the homework that is assigned and ask Dr. Workman in his office for some good extra problems to do in the book.
Successful completion of this step will not guarantee you an A, but it will help you memorize various reagents for speedy recall on the tests. It is very important to ask Dr.Workman if there are any extra problems at the end of the chapter that would be good to do. Sometimes (not always) there was similarity between Dr. Workman's suggested problems and test questions, and at least once I discovered the same problem on the organic test.
• Find all the old tests you can.
Once you've done all the homework and are fairly familiar with the material, find all the old tests that you can. I thought that the old tests got me familiar with someof the "tricks" involved in Dr. Workman's test questions. You'll quickly discover when you take your first practice test that the problems are much more thought provoking (e.g. tricky) than problems found in Dr.Workman's lectures, and chances are you won't be able to do many correctly. If you've had the foresight to take the test early, let your ignorance be a source of amusement and don't get discouraged (also see #3 of "GeneralStrategy"). Be sure that you don't take the test before Dr. Workman has covered the material in class. He is usually very good at letting the entire class know how much of last year's test he's covered in class, so use this information as a guide.
Once you take a few practice tests, you will begin to notice that there is usually only one original thought (e.g. Dr. Workman didn't show you this example in class) on your part needed to solve multi-step organic problems, and this "trick" is always based on something you've seen before in class. Once you figure out this trick, solving the rest of the problem is usually not too hard if you know and understand Dr. Workman's lectures. Unfortunately, thinking in this manner and finding the trick takes lots of practice; and there's just not enough tests out there to practice on (so see step #4). By the way, good sources of old tests are people in fraternities because fraternities tend to save these sorts of things. So ask the people in your class and someone is bound to have an old test or two.
• Don't avoid Dr. Workman's office.
Visit Dr. Workman throughout the course to ask him questions. Make sure, however, that you have a specific question and don't say, "I don't know how to do this problem." If you really don't know where to begin on a problem (usually old test questions had this effect on me), decide how the problem cannot be solved or what doesn't work; and start there with your conversation with Dr. Workman. He is usually very hospitable when he sees that you're trying. From time to time, you may notice that Dr. Workman amuses himself with your ignorance. Don't let this frustrate you or keep you from his office. You should be happy that you're such an amusing person and continue to ask questions.
• Design your own problems and ask Dr. Workman if they are appropriatetest material.
Some people are very clever and could come up with problems so good that Dr. Workman put them on his tests. As you can imagine, the designers of these problems had a big advantage on test day. You may be one of these people, but I certainly was not. You may then ask, "What good does it do me if I can't design good problems?" When you actually try to design problems, you will generate many scenarios that you haven't thought of before as well as many questions to ask Dr. Workman. Most importantly, however, your problem solving speed will be increased as you become more familiar with the various reagents. Speed is extremely important when taking one of Dr. Workman's tests.
• Make a list of the common mistakes that you tend to make.
I noticed that I always made the same sorts of mistakes on each practice test that I took. Dr. Workman suggested that I make a list of these mistakes so I wouldn't make them anymore. The suggestion was very helpful. Therefore, keep a list handy as you take practice tests and write down the errors that you make as you go.
• Have all of these steps completed a day or two before the test.
This step is actually the hardest of them all, but if you can do it, you will do well on the organic test. Use the extra day or two to do steps 1 through 5 again.
There really isn't much to it. To do well in organic, you have to go to every class meeting and pay close attention. Then you have to study it out of class. For instance, start working on each set of assigned homework problems early. If you have trouble with them, go into Dr. Workman's office and get help. Even if you don't, still go in and make sure. Also, begin going over material for the test at least one and a half weeks to two weeks before the exam. A good way to do this is in Dr. Workman's office. By going over material with him, you will delve into ideas that will be on the exam that aren't covered in class or in the assigned homework. Most importantly , try to show Dr. Workman that you care about doing well in his class. Going into his office and "talking" organic is certaintly a good way to do just that.
1. Find some study buddies.
Try to find some people with similar motivation and ability levels as you (not necessarily your best friends) and get together before homeworkis due to discuss the problems. Compare answers and spend time arguing for answers you think are correct. Explaining your reasoning to someone else is a good way to help you learn the material and might expose flaws in your reasoning. This will help prevent waiting until the last minute to think about homework.
This is also a good time to exchange problems that you have made up.
2. Go over reactions from the previous few lectures before class.
Very rarely is a topic covered in class completely new. Usually there will be questions pertaining to reactions just learned or new reactions very similar to older ones. This can also help in the very probable case you are called on to answer a question.
3. Get plenty of sleep before tests.
Cramming isn't going to get you very far because the tests are based on problem solving and reasoning, not strict memorization. Staying up all night won't help you learn stuff you don't already know, it willhinder you in the problems pertaining to the material you do know. You have to be at your best to take one of these tests, a one-hour intellectual sprint of sorts. I usually got up early enough before tests to eat breakfast so I could be fully awake and ready.
4. Start studying for tests early.
Really, you need to be learning everything as it is presented. The week before the test shouldn't be the first time you've thought about the material, just an intensive review period. Do all of the homework problems as they are assigned. Do every student created problem that Workman says is good (parts of these always appear somewhere on the test). Do every old test you can find. Ask Workman to look at them beforeyou start studying so he can tell you which ones are wastes of time. After finishing the tests go over the answers with your study group from1 and have Workman look over your answers as well.
5. Take lab seriously, but don't stress out about it.
Lab is there to reinforce concepts you learn in the lecture. Make sure you understand what the purpose of each step is and ask about ones you don't understand. Read the lab before coming and it may help to go over the pertaining text in the book. Later on in lab you will need skills that you learned in previous labs. Make sure you read about how to do them before showing up at lab. If you make a mistake, don't freak out about it. Pouring your product down the sink is not the end of the world. Just fess up to it and take the obligatory making fun of and Workman will tell you what you should do for the write up. Most of the points for lab come from the write up, so don't wait until the night before to start.
Getting an A in Workman's Organic is possible, if not easy, if you follow these simple guidelines:
• Keep up with the material and never hesitate to ask questions. If you don't want to be embarrassed in class, ask him later in his office where he will embarrass you further. Get over the embarrassment, there is no way to avoid it.
• Make sure you understand the concepts from each lecture, not just the examples he gives in class. The tests will be much more difficult than anything covered in class.
• Think creatively about tricks he could pull and try to make up problems. Even if they don't work, it could lead you to an idea that does.
• I know professors hate this, but practice with old tests. Rewrite them and give yourself exactly an hour to finish to get accustomed to the time limitation. Don't forget though that he never uses the same problem twice, but will utilize some of the same concepts.
• Be a teacher's pet. Go to Workman's office and pester him with stupid questions. He is usually there and loves visitors. Even if you don't have a particular question, go anyway and listen to other's questions and ideas. They can be extremely helpful.
• Above all do not let Workman or any of the material intimidate you. It is very easy to get freaked out by the previous year's exam, what other people say, or even by the music he always plays before an exam. Do not let it bother you. Stay calm and assured that you know the material and it will be a breeze.
• Obviously, do all of the work. You won't have a clue on tests if you don't do the homework.
• Do all of the assignments alone. Ask your friends for help on problems if you don't understand. They may save you unnecessary (and sometimes time-consuming) trips to see Dr. Workman.
• Don't hesitate to ask Dr. Workman any questions or to go to his office for help. However, don't believe the rumors that you have to see him to get a good grade. You don't have to camp out in his office to succeed. Many students who have employed this method have done well in the class , but I think that most of them would have done just as well without spending quite so much time in his office.
• Whenever you do find yourself in Dr. Workman's office for help, don't waste time there. If you need help, ask your questions and get out of there, especially if you're busy. If there are six people in his office asking questions that you already understand, leave and go learn something on your own.
• I usually spent most of the two days prior to a test studying for that test. I think some students studied too much for tests, but you'll have to determine what's best for you.
• By far, the best way I studied for the tests was to work as many tests from previous years as I could find. Work all of thepast tests on your own and try to do every problem. Give yourself an hour to do each test to practice doing the problems within an hour, but then go back and try to figure out each problem that you couldn't get within an hour. Ask Dr. Workman about any problems you aren't comfortable with.
• Pay attention to what type of questions are on the old tests, because Dr. Workman always uses the same format and types of questions on the new tests.
• Go to all the review sessions and ask questions about anything that you don't understand. Make sure you have already worked through last year's test before you go to the review session.
• It is a good idea to go to the warehouse the evenings before the tests and study there. Dr. Workman is always there on the third floor so you can ask any questions, and you may also benefit from other students' questions.
• Always write down something for every question, even if you are positive that it is wrong--Dr. Workman is very generous with partial credit.
• Don't be wordy on tests. Don't even write in sentences. Be very brief with your answers but make sure you answer the question properly.
• These tests are by no means regurgitation. You have to apply what you learn.
• Get some sleep before the tests.
• Don't get too worried about the course before you even get started. If you're reading this, you're probably already too worried. But on the other hand, if you're reading this it probably means that you're willing to do the necessary work in the course. Most students that I know enjoyed organic. It was challenging and unlike any other class I've taken at Centre, but that is exactly what can make it a great course if you go in with the right attitude.
• Don't automatically assume you're going to do poorly in the course. The tests were some of the most challenging I've every taken, but Dr. Workman has a very generous grading scale. All of my friends in the class and I got much better grades in this course than many of our other courses here at Centre.
• Dr. Workman may seem a little condescending at first, but he is a great professor and a pretty nice guy once you get to know him. I didn't go to his office for help once in the first semester, but now I know him a hundred times better than any other professor at Centre. Just don't take anything he says personally because he really does pick on everyone, and try to have fun with it.
How to get an A in Organic
The single best advice that anyone could give you is to utilize your resources, these being Dr. Workman and your friends and classmates. I would recommend setting up camp in Workman's office for about an hour at least once every few days. Try to drop by when you know other people from your class will be there so you can learn from their questions and they can learn from yours.
The easiest way to increase your chances of an A in organic is to not waste the time you spend in lecture. Many students get overwhelmed by the complexity of the material at the beginning and end up mindlessly copying down the reactions and mechanisms from the board during the lecture. They then resign themselves to actually learning the material later when someone can go over it with them. Don't be one of these people! Learn the material during the lecture and you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Something that helped me a great deal in Organic 1 was looking over my notes and/or the book for about 20 minutes in the morning before class. This lets you arrive at class mentally prepared to get the most out of the lecture. Sacrifice whatever extra sleep you have to in order to get up early enough to arrive at class fully awake and with a mindset to learn. Your grade will reflect this extra effort.
Most importantly, understand how important the tests are! Homework and lab will only affect your grade if they are abnormally low or high. Your tests will make or break you. Start studying the weekend before the test, and make sure you cover all your bases. Anticipate questions and tricky situations that may arise, and ask Workman about them prior to the test. For example, if you saw a reaction done in acidic solution in class, make sure you know how to do the reaction in basic solution as well. The most important thing to remember is to write down whatever you can that will get you points on each question. Workman is the patron saint of partial credit, so make sure you write down everything that has a remote chance of earning you points. For example, if you are asked to choose which of two reactions is the fastest, and you don't know the answer but you know that it has to do with electronegativity, jotting down “e-negativity” will get you at least one point, maybe as many as three. When tackling a difficult problem, write down whatever you know about the problem, and move on if you get stuck for more than two minutes. Many times the other problems in the test will give you clues on how to do the one you are stuck on.
Lastly, go to the review sessions before every test. Many times Workman will come right out and tell you that a certain type of problem will be on the test. Don't count on your friends filling you in when this happens at a session you missed.
If you take the above advice and it works for you, make sure you
tell your friends and classmates. If you catch a tricky problem that
you think might show up on the test, tell your friends and help them
understand it. If you horde information or refuse to help others with
their homework, you will annoy people and your organic karma will be
shot to hell. Study hard and have as much fun as you can.
7 Keys to Doing Well in Organic
1. Do your homework
2. Do all the problems on all the old tests you can find
3. If Dr. Workman suggests that you should do something, do it
4. If Dr. Workman tells you to do something, do it
5. Work twice as hard in organic as you have in any other previousclass
6. Be very familiar with all the material at least 3 days before the test
7. Get a good night's sleep the night before the test
A “few tips for success” in Dr. Workman's CHE 241 and 341 classes (in no particular order)
Tip 1. Listen well in class, or in Dr. Workman's office, or in the study sessions. Asking a question that has just been answered is frustrating for everyone involved. In class, if you really don't understand, ask a well-structured question that, when answered, will clear up the problem. If you don't ask a satisfactory question, you will not receive the answer you're looking for.
Tip 2. Do the “recommended” problems, even if they won't be graded. Do the problems at the very end of the chapter (A Look Ahead). Do the problems other people make up. Do (and make sure you understand the reactions and concepts behind) the problems on past years' tests. You'll be surprised how many questions on your tests seem vaguely familiar.
Tip 3. If, as described in tip #1, you ask a question and the answer does not resolve your misunderstanding, don't just forget about it. Meet Dr. Workman in his office (after refining your question-asking skills) and figure out exactly what it is you aren't grasping, then use him to help you understand it. Each day, the class builds heavilyon the previous days' material, and an ignored misconception can quickly become an extreme discontinuity in your understanding of organic chemistry (or at least in that understanding of the subject that you will need for the next test).
Tip 4. Realize that the other students in your class can be quite an asset to you. Guess what...they're studying the same concepts and reaction after reaction after reaction that you are. Create a problem and have a classmate solve it. Work other people's problems. And, ask another student to explain a concept that you either missed in class or just don't understand , if you dare. This practice can be relatively harmless if you ask someone who, you're sure, knows the concept or reaction backwards and forwards (and will include all the relevant information that Dr. Workman gave in his explanation). However, if they question themselves in their explanation or they don't take particularly good notes, go talk to Dr. Workman, just to make sure you know what you need to know.
Tip 5. You need to keep good notes that can be easily referenced. Keep a list or booklet of the various reactions you cover. Know what the reactants are, what the catalysts are, whether it's hot or cold, what you get, what you can make from what you get, how you can make what you start with...Keep it organized so it's easier to study.
Tip 6. Allow yourself plenty of time to study--after/before each class and before tests. Don't go into class without having at least glanced over the reactions from the previous day because you will invariably be called upon to answer the one question in the entire class period to which you do not know the answer. Study sessions are usually scheduled a couple of days before the test, so that when you have more questions at the end than you had at the beginning, you have time to visit Dr. Workman's office one last time before that dreaded morning.
Tip 7. Study sessions: go to them. They can clear up last-minute questions. They sometimes give you practice at working problems quickly. (This skill will not seem so important until you get to the bottom of page four of your six page test and you only have ten minutes left. In other words, work quickly during tests. Skip the questions you can't answer and come back to them once you've finished the ones you can. And be thankful for partial credit.) And sometimes, during study sessions, subtle hints might be dropped about a question on Friday's test that might seem vaguely familiar if you've done question #43 in the “A Look Ahead” problems at the end of the chapter.
Tip 8. Enjoy the class. The material is fascinating. The technology you will use to study it is amazing. Okay, so the yield is disappointing, but, hey, the theory is great!! Plus, Dr. Workman really wants his students to do well and is willing to put in the hours to discuss and explain the material if you are. Don't be afraid to darken his door with your questions on the tip of your tongue. Just don't expect him to there in the afternoon after he's graded thirty tests at warp speed.
Keys to Getting an “ A ” in CHE 24 & 31
• Complete all homework correctly
• Ask Dr. Workman for help if having problems with homework or anything else
• Start studying for exams at least 1 week in advance and don't wait until the night before to ask Joe questions
• Most of the material covered on the exams will come a few days beforethe exam, everything else just builds up to a few important reactions
• Be in class, on time every day
• What goes on the board should go in your notes
ADVICE FOR FUTURE ORGANIC STUDENTS
Organic chemistry is considered to be one of the
hardest classes at Centre. After completing the two semesters, I
can attest to that statement, in that, I have never dedicated so much
time and effort to one class. Realize that the material is
difficult and prepare yourself to dedicate a significant portion of
your time to practicing the various kinds of problems. Don't be
scared or nervous though; think of the class and the material as a
My advice for future organic students will obviously be based upon what worked for me during organic I and II, so depending upon your natural ability and general intelligence, some of the suggestions may or may not be applicable. Never miss class! Get a good alarm clock and make sure that it is set for 7:45 every morning. If you don't like to be put on the spot and get made fun of, then don't be late. Organic chemistry is not like other classes in which you can miss the lecture, get the notes, and understand. Most of the time, if you miss class, and get the notes later, you will not understand them! Do not get behind! That means going to class and actually understanding the notes. If you don't understand something, see Dr.Workman immediately. He wants to help; it's just a matter of you making the effort to go to his office. Many students do not utilize Dr. Workman's availability. I found it useful to spend time in his office working problems. I became comfortable with the different variations and was able to learn which problems were good and relevant for the exam.
In preparation for exams, make sure that you have completed and understood the homework packet of problems, the suggested book problems, and the old exams. The more problems you do, the more familiar you become with the different types and variations of problems. All of these problems and old exams should be completed and understood several days prior to the exam so that you leave yourself enough time to make up some good problems. By doing all of this background work during the weeks before the exam, you are actually doing your studying for the exam. Once you understand all of the basics, you can make up problems and see some of the tricks used by Dr. Workman on the previous exams. In making up problems, you should tie together important concepts and tricks that seem likely to be on the exam. This is the most important part! The better you understand the material, the easier it will be to make up problems. Be creative and ask Dr. Workman if your idea for a problem is too difficult or too easy. He will normally tell you if your problem is good, especially if he knows that you are working hard.
I know this sounds like a lot, but don't be intimidated. The class goes by quickly and it will be over before you know it. Good luck and I hope that my advice has been helpful.
Tips to Surviving Dr. Workman's Organic
• If Dr . Workman says you "should" do something, do it!
• Homework is essential to understand. Don't just rush through it and put down anything. Make sure you understand why it is that something is happening.
• Dr. Workman is your best source for help. The key is, though, he will not give you a direct answer. He will ask you questions that will help you get to the right answer. It may frustrate you sometimes, but he is helping you get to the answer with you doing all the work.
• Try to do everything several times before you go and see him. It will help you on tests.
• If there are people in his office, don't be afraid to ask questions. Other people may have the same question as you. Likewise, they may ask a question you have or never even thought of. Eavesdropping on other people is a great way to learn material also.
• You can never be 100% prepared for what is on the test. Dr. Workman will always put stuff you have never seen.
• Keep going on tests. Even if a problem looks impossible, put something down. You can still get points for something that makes some kind of sense.
• You're not perfect. Even some of Dr. Workman's best students haven't gotten 100% on every test. In fact, very few people have gotten a 100%. You're going to have points taken off. Just make sure there aren't a bunch taken off.
• If Dr . Workman says something is "important", "cool", "interesting", or stresses something more than once, it is going to be on a test one way or another.
• Relax. It is just a course, not the end of the world.
Tips for Dr. Workman's Organic Chemistry Students
Organic chemistry is essentially a class about solving puzzles. Know the background material and a few key phrases and you'll be able to answer the questions and solve the puzzles on tests. Don't go into the class too intimidated or worried about the class, it just takes a little practice and some work. Chances are you'll make a better grade than you expect if you make the effort. Here are some hints to help you succeed:
• Don't fall behind. One of the best things Workman does the first semester is to make students turn in homework. Working problems is the only way to fully understand the material.
• Whenever you are having trouble with homework, go to Workman'soffice and ask him. He is always willing to help and makes himself readily available. It's not absolutely necessary to go to Workman's office to make a good grade, but most successful students make frequent visits.
• This is one class where I would recommend reading the book. It does a good job of explaining the concepts, and all of the reinforcement you can get helps. Also, Workman doesn't expect students to read the material before coming to class, but if you do it makes it easier to participate. Along those lines, participate in class as much as possible to keep yourself involved.
• I would recommend spending most of your study time for organic alone instead of in a group. Studying in groups helps for doing homework problems, but they won't be there for you on test day. If you do study in a group, make sure you can do the problems on your own, too.
• Don't stress over lab. It doesn't affect your grade that much, it just reinforces the concepts you learn in class. However, make sure you pay attention, especially when isolating stuff, because there is a lab question on every test first semester.
• Workman's tests have legendary status but don't be intimidated. Time is your greatest enemy when taking an organic test. The material is not that hard, you just don't have that much time to figure it out. Pacing yourself is something that just comes with experience, so don't get too worried about your first test grade. Do not cram the night before a test even if you don't feel prepared. It's best to get a good night of sleep, because essentially you will be solving puzzles. Finally, don't rely on old tests. They are good for practice problems and timing yourself, but Workman always has more tricks up his sleeve. Use the tests on his website as practice tests, but remember you're in a relaxed setting. The best way to prepare for a test is to work problem after problem and to talk to Workman when you have questions.
• Finally, never get discouraged. As hard as the class seems at times, Workman wants you to succeed and will do everything he can to help if you go to him. Imagine you are starting with a clean slate after each test. Bad test grades are definitely possible to overcome, I know from experience.
Succeeding in organic takes dedication, but never forget that it is just a class. Don't let it overtake your social life. You can still have fun while you're in organic, you just have to know when to work and when to play. Good luck!
Advice to Workman's CHE 24 Students
I wish to state a few simple rules that will help those who will take regards of them.
• Always read the chapters before the lecture starts over them.
• Do your homework the day of the lecture and go see Dr. Workman on the following day for help about those which gave you trouble. (A bad homework grade comes from one thing only--laziness.)
• Don't let him get to you. He tries to make you feel stupid sometimes, but you should only try to work harder. (This, in fact, is his simple goal by his facetious remarks.)
• Read over your notes often so you don't forget older things.
• Before tests you should work old tests, but don't plan on the same questions on your test because that doesn't happen.
• Remember there are only 9 answers to Workman's questions—cherish them :
1) hyperconjugation 2) induction 3) resonance 4) hydrogen-bonding 5) dipole-dipole 6) London forces 7) torsional strain 8) steric strain 9) angle strain.
• Do more work than you think you should, but don't over do it.
• Go see him about questions you have at any time they arise.
• Don't work in groups because you'll spend more time talking than studying.
• Last, but certainly not least, DON'T PANIC! It'll all be over soon enough.
TOP TEN WAYS TO SUCCEED IN DR. WORKMAN'S ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
• Start working hard on DAY ONE! If you work hard day by day, you will not be as bogged down when a test rolls around.
• Do NOT skip class! Not even ONE (unless you have an excuse). Even if you are sick, try and drag yourself to Organic. One missed day may get you behind and haunt you on the next test.
• Go to Dr. Workman's office if you have any questions. He is helpful with homework, but at least attempt the problems before going to him. Go to HELP SESSIONS before exams and be prepared with questions.
• Do NOT do homework at the last minute. This often leads to frustration and it may be too late to get help from Dr. Workman.
• On your own, do ALL of the unassigned book problems. If you do not have time for all of them, ask Dr. Workman which ones he suggests. (“A Look Ahead” problems are good)
• Start studying for tests AT LEAST 4 days in advance. Rework homework and book problems, practice old exams, and make up your own problems.
• When practicing old exams, give yourself ONE HOUR to go through the test without looking at notes, etc. Do NOT completely rely on old exams.
• When taking an exam, do the problems you know first. Attempt EVERY problem. PARTIAL CREDIT will be your friend.
• PARTICIPATE in class. Ask and answer questions. Dr. Workman says there are no dumb questions (just stupid ones) so don't be afraid to speak up .
Your overall EFFORT may really influence your grade. This means going BEYOND THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. Let me reiterate: Go to his office for help, Do not skip class, Participate, and Practice, Practice, Practice problems until you drop.
Recipe for an A in Organic Chemistry
2 cups Hard Work
1/2 tablespoon Natural Aptitude
1 Organic Textbook
1 Set of Stupid Molecules
1 Respectable Lab Grade (based on effort and preparation )
3 A's on Tests (may substitute one A with a B, but the other two shouldbe high A's)
1 Good Final Exam
A Dash of Luck
$20 (if your grade is borderline)
A pinch of B.S.
• Preheat brain by reading all the applicable material before class. This will allow you to participate in class, and grasp new material quicker.
• Do the assigned homework. Not only is homework graded, but it forces you to learn how to do the problems. This will make studying for tests easier, adding body to your A.
• Follow the directions for lab preparation and reports, or your end result will be lower than expected (directions on box).
• Attend class
• A's on tests are prepared by following the above directions, and by reviewing your notes, since Dr. Workman covers what he thinks is most important. Also, review old tests until you understand all the problems and mechanisms, since what Dr. Workman felt was important one year will probably not change that much the next year. Don't bother cramming. It is necessary to fully understand the reasons behind the mechanisms, because the tests force you to apply what you've learned to new situations.
• The final exam is similar to the tests.
• Luck and B.S. never hurt. Always answer every question on a test, you may stumble across the correct answer, and Dr. Workman is a believer in partial credit.
• If you do not understand something, go in for extra help. Even if you can't pinpoint your difficulties, go in and listen to what other people are having problems with.
• Bake at 68°, for twelve weeks.
• Top with crushed walnuts.
Success in Organic Chemistry: An Impossible Dream
Chances are, if you're even bothering to read this, you either do need help or you're just way too uptight. I mean, I didn't even read the advice when I was in Organic I and I'm about as uptight as it gets. So, in that case, stop reading and go do something deconstructive. As for those of you who genuinely need help, I'm sorry, but there are no real true gems of advice that I can convey. Sure, I didn't get A's in Organic I and II for nothing, but then again, I get A's in everything. So about the only thing you can do is follow the common sense advice that I'm sure you've already heard, which is nothing more than an elaborate canard: take the homework seriously, it mirrors the exams almost exactly; after you've studied for a test a little bit, take the practice test as if it were the real test in order to simulate the stress; read the book and do any relevant extra problems at the end of the chapters; and go to the review sessions, even if other crepuscular activities beckon you--they can be quite useful. One thing you should know about the tests: time is crucial. You will undoubtedly run out of time before you can do everything you want. In order to maximize performance ,skip problems that leave you completely dry, quickly do the problems that you can, and then return to the ones you skipped. If you still can't come up with anything, write something--anything. Use organic buzzwords you'll soon learn like steric, electronic, stable/unstable, hypercon, resonance, etc. If you provide multiple answers to a question and only one is right, you'll still receive substantial partial credit. One thing to avoid: logorrhea in answering questions. Never use complete sentences. It takes too much time. Be sure to say everything you want, but briefly. And only answer the questions that are asked. The questions on the exams usually require the same type of analysis, reasoning, and logic as are needed for passing the entrance exam to Mensa, so the answers aren't always going to just pop into your head. Don't stare blankly at the page. Draw or write out something. It will helpyou to see the answer and at least get some partial credit. A general tip for understanding is to use the models I'm sure you bought. Use them a lot--like whenever you can't understand something. However, don't use them for tests. No time. Maybe just a couple of pre-made ones like cyclohexane or something. After the tests, don't stress because you think you got a 60--you're not the victim of academic internecine. So did half the class. It'll probably be a B. On getting along with Dr. Workman: don't whine, don't take anything he says personally, and resort to shameless fealty if necessary. If you feel helpless, don't. Make a joke at his expense. He can take it. It won't make him any more bilious or lead to discrimination against you. Probably the opposite. No guarantees, however. At your own risk and all. As far as labs and papers go: do well on the tests and homework. Don't be afraid to ask for help, but don't be annoying. Try hard yourself before you go to Dr. Workman or you'll look like an idiot and he really won't tell you anything anyway. Hope you've got some more confidence by now. Good luck--though it won't really help.
How to Succeed in Dr. Workman's Organic Chemistry Courses
* Do not miss class
* Do all homework--it is part of your grade and is the best way to learn the material. It is better to ask Dr. Workman for help than to ask another student. He is easy to find and can explain things more fully.
Studying for Tests
* Read all of your notes, starting from the first day of class. Although the earlier material will not be emphasized on the second and third exams, the later information is often based on theory discussed in earlier notes.
* Do the practice test by yourself . At the help session you will go over the parts you do not understand . Dr. Workman occasionally slightly varies questions from earlier tests and puts them on the new test, so be sure to understand the theory behind all of the problems. Think of possible ways the questions could be altered.
* Do as many practice problems as possible. The text book has many good questions to try.
* Review what you have been doing in the laboratory. That material is fair game for the exam as well .
Taking the Tests
* The most important thing not to do on the test is get flustered. If you get stumped on a question, move on to the next one. Sometimes the answer will become clear the second or third time you look at a problem. Be sure to take a stab at every problem because Dr. Workman gives partial credit for even moderately reasonable attempts.
Advice for Organic Students
-- Don't get behind!!! Do the homework the day that it is assigned. Then use the next day to ask questions and to review your answers to make sure that you understand them and that they are correct. You will have questions...for every assignment, so allot time every day to go see Dr. Workman.
-- Don't spend all of your time reading the book. The book is very helpful for referring to when trying the homework, but Dr. Workman covers everything in class that he expects you to know. If you understand the lectures, don't spend another three hours learning the intricate details of the chapter. The book is very good for practice questions for the exams. Try to do the questions at the end of every chapter for each test.
-- Don't let Dr. Workman intimidate you. He is only trying to push you to do your best. Even if he upsets you, keep going to his office and keep asking questions. Dr. Workman is very good at teaching you what he wants you to learn. But, you have to push yourself as hard as he is pushing you.
-- Memorizing things for the test is not enough. Practicing applying the concepts is much more effective and you will find that you don't have to memorize everything because you have learned it. The best way to do well is to do as many problems as you can get your hands on, and to ask questions when you have them, not the night before the test at the review session.
-- Listen to what Dr. Workman says about what he will and will not test you on. He never tests you on something that he has said you will not be tested on.
How to Survive Organic Chemistry
• Go to class! Listening and asking questions in classis the best (maybe even only) way to learn Organic. Even if you are sick and don't go to your other classes that day and don't do the homework, still try to drag yourself to Chemistry.
• Prepare for class! This means taking the time to do the homework correctly, really thinking about the problems. Class makes more sense if you read enough and try the homework enough to ask questions.
• Participate in class! You usually will not have a choice in this matter, but you can choose to have a good attitude about it. Workman will ask questions in class and often he will call on you whenyou least expect it. Don't try to get off the hook by saying “I don'tknow”. Just give it your best shot. For one thing, he won't let you not answer, but more importantly--you know more than you think you know. Don't be afraid to give a wrong answer, everyone ends up sounding dumb once in a while.
• See Workman for help. This could be the most important advice. Going to his office and getting help lets him know who you are, that you care about learning the stuff, and that you are willing to put the extra time into the class. If you take the time to ask questions, do extra problems for him to check, and just generally ask him to explain stuff then he will take the time to teach you one on one. If you don't understand something than be honest and he will explain it without making you feel stupid (unless it is the day before an exam and you arejust starting to ask questions--then you should feel stupid.)
• Don't try to cram. You have to learn Organic piece by piece, slowly, building each day. Studying for 10 hours the day before an exam probably won't work.
• Specific stuff: Read a couple of chapters ahead for extra credit problems on the tests, go to the study sessions, make up your own problems (they sometimes show up on tests), make flash cards for reactions, do problems in the ends of book chapters (similar ones show up on tests), I thought reading the book helped reinforce the class notes--other folks didn't.
• Don't be scared of Organic or of Workman. The subject is difficult and it is a different kind of learning. You really have to be able to apply learned concepts to new situations--but you can do it! As to Workman--he is sarcastic and jokes around. That is his way--good or bad--it doesn't matter. Try not to be offended, just let any teasing or sarcasm roll right off your back. He knows organic chemistry and he is a good person to have in your corner.
Dear New Organic Students ,
As you start your fun filled year of organic, Dr. Workman thought it might be helpful for you to have some tips on doing well. So, some of us will try and instill our wisdom upon you (Ha ha!). First of all, the most important thing is to not get behind. Try to read the textbook as you go along, because this will help you understand new topics better. Also, review the textbook after you've gone over something confusing in class. Keep up with all of the problems (yes, even the unassigned ones), so that you can go in for help when you do not understand something. The better you understand the material, the better you will be able to apply your knowledge to problems that you haven't seen before. This is a class that you have to devote a lot of time to, but your efforts will pay off. ALWAYS make sure you go see Dr. Workman when you have questions. You may spend a lot of time in his office, but it will be worth it. If you can start out with a good work ethic ,and an understanding of the basics, it makes it easier as you go along. When in Dr. Workman's office or review sessions in the warehouse, you will hear many examples of how to do problems from other students. Hearing something explained many ways is beneficial, because one of those ways may be the one that makes you understand something you didn't. However, don't study in groups before a test. If you go by yourself, you will cover more material, and thus be able to ask about more things, and learn more examples. The more problems you have looked at or done by test day, the better you will do. Also, try to look at old tests. Don't look at the people's answers, but work through the tests so you can get familiar with working through tricky, harder, and longer (or possibly shorter) problems than you are used to. My last helpful tip for organicis to get plenty of sleep before a test. That was one of the most important factors for me. You have to think very fast and very clearly, and you cannot do that on three hours of sleep. Last but not least, make sure you have a lot of fun after your final and during winter term, because Organic II will not be that far away.
Keys to Success in Organic
• Homework problems should be completed twice. All the problems at the end of each chapter should be completed and checked by Dr. Workman since he is the Organic guru. Working problems is far and away the best way to study for the tests. This advice can't be emphasized enough.
• Read the chapter to be covered before each class. Reading the text allows you to absorb more information during the lecture and means less study time later on.
• Memorization of definitions and numbers (such as the boilingpoint of methane) have never been on a Workman test that I have seen and never will, so take a hint and save time by not memorizing these trivial facts. Instead of memorizing definitions apply the term to a specific instance or find an example of the term. For example, instead of memorizing “geometric isomers are compounds that differ only in the geometry of the groups around a double bond or on a ring,” know that cis and trans distinguish geometric isomers and that the trans forms are sometimes more stable than the cis because of less steric hindrance. Numbers should not be memorized but trends in such things as boiling points, bond lengths, energy amounts, and wavelengths should be understood.
• Always ask the next logical question either in class or in Dr. Workman's office. The next logical question will very often show up on his exams. For example, if HBr + ethene react well together in peroxide will HI + ethene react well in peroxide.
• Not only does doing the problems help in learning the material but the problems train your brain to work in a logical problem solving fashion essential for success on later tests in Organic I and II. Dr. Workman purposely puts problems on almost all his tests that are unlike any you have seen and will be covered fully at higher levels of Organic, yet he expects you to have the problem solving capabilities to come to a reasonable answer (not necessary the completely correct answer).
Advice To The Organic Students
Before any other advice, I think that the ability to work with Dr. Workmanis very important:
• Listen and trust what Dr. Workman says--he WILL help you in any situation.
• Try to ask questions about the problems in his office but don't shoot for the answers aimlessly--try to solve them before asking.
• Don't take Dr. Workman's jokes close to your heart but rather concentrate on work.
• Don't blame Dr. Workman for stress or an unsuccessful grade—it is all your responsibility.
You will not have many problems with anything above if you:
• Keep up with the material during the ENTIRE course.
• Study from as many books, notes, and other materials as you can. Try to read about a particular subject as much as possible—even from different sources or unassigned chapters. You want to know the material inside-out.
• Try to see differences and similarities between everything you study. Try to pick out the main concepts, and see how they apply to the different situations. Analyze every problem—don't just memorizeit. It even helps to categorize the learned material.
• Study a couple of days in advance before the test. When studying, often it helps just to sit and think about what you just learned.
• Sometimes it is helpful to know the details, so that the whole concept will be more clear .
• Otherwise, make it like a game--either you win or you lose.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY UNDER JOE WORKMAN
• Accept the challenge and enjoy the class. There is no point in being intimidated by the material or by Joe's teaching style. You wouldn't have signed up for this infamous class if you weren't readyfor a challenge.
• Have a sense of humor. This is essential when approachinganything in life, especially a course taught by Dr. Joe Workman . Realize Joe's sarcasm and don't take everything he says to heart.
• Don't get behind. In other classes it might have been tough to learn everything the night before the test--in organic this might be impossible. The best way to stay up on the current material is to go to class and pay attention; this keeps you current.
• Take pride in your work. Don't approach every assignment with dread and hopes of completion before you even start. Turn in something you will be proud of.
• Don't be hesitant to take advantage of Joe's willingness to help...call him crazy but he is in his office all the time--he loves what he does and is always willing to work with you to help you understand.
• Get sleep before the tests; this works a lot better than trying to stay up all night and cram--you can't cram for Joe's organic tests. There are a few fundamental concepts that you can memorize, but beyond that the real challenge of organic chemistry is in the problem solving—figuring out how to synthesize or build from the basics you learn is fundamental.
• Be careful not to dismiss old material. Everything in organic chemistry ties together so it is of utmost importance to remember past methods. Often you will learn new and easier ways of doing things but it always helps to remember previous basics.
• Always go to class and pay attention--you will learn more in class and have to study outside of class less.
• Figure out what works for you as an individual and stick with it. Just because one person doesn't pick up the text until the morning before and exam doesn't mean this will work for you; nor does it mean that s/he will pass the exam.
• Keep things in perspective. Give it your best but not your life. You may have to make a few sacrifices, but there is no reason you should have to give up everything else to conquer organic chemistry.
I came into Organic Chemistry having no idea what to expect. I knew it was going to be hard, and I expected to get a B if I worked my ass off. From the beginning I kept up with the day to day material. It is very important to do the homework and go see Workman if you don't understand something. He is always in his office and willing to help if you come see him. I took advantage of this quite often and it helped. I would begin to study about four days before the test. Going over my notes and old problems, I would make sure I understood all the concepts that were stressed in class. If you pay attention in class, you can tell what types of problems he might put on the exam. Study before the review session and do lots of problems. After taking the first test I thought I got a C, but I ended up with an A. Partial credit counts a lot so put down something for everything on the exam. I enjoyed the class and ended up doing a lot better than I ever thought I would.
Hints on How to Succeed in Organic Chemistry
• KEEP UP WITH THE HOMEWORK!! It really is vital for understanding the material and is good practice for the exams.
• Don't be afraid to go get help. Dr. Workman is relatively harmless and is a good source of info if you're struggling with something. You'll be a lot better off if you get any problems straightened out early on.
• Pay attention in lab and understand what you're doing. Lab reinforces what you're doing in class, so if you know what's going on in lab, it will help you in class, too. ( plus lab questions show up on the exam.)
• Use molecular models. Especially in Organic I, building models will help you figure things out visually.
• Use the book for practice problems.
• Last word--Be prepared to work and don't blow this class off, but don't get too intimidated--you will survive!
HELPFUL TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
The first day I went to organic class last spring I was dreading every minute of it. This was a result of all the horror stories I had heard about the class from past organic students. I thought there was no chance of doing very well in the class. Knowing the difficulty that past organic students had with the class, I tried to keep up in the class by reading the chapters covered in class and doing the homework assigned. As a result of keeping up in the work, I understood better what was being covered in class each day. If you get behind, it is very hard to understand what is going in class, and eventually, you will get so far behind that the material covered in class is all foreign to you. In preparing for tests, I just read over my notes work the homework problems, and did extra problems found at the end of each chapter. Organic chemistry is hard to understand, and if you ever come to something you do not understand, I strongly suggest you go see Dr. Workman on an individual basis. He is always available and ready to help students in understanding problems they had. Organic is a class in which you have to be able to use the material you learn in class. It is one of the hardest classes in the college. In order to be successful, a student must keep up in the work and make sure he or she understands it, requiring a lot of time and work.
Top 10 Ways to Get an ‘A' in Organic Chemistry
• Set up residency in Dr. Workman's office--if you do not understand something, don't hesitate to make daily visits to Dr. Workman's office. If you get too irritating, don't worry about it--he'll just tell you toleave. However, he has yet to find someone who is quite that bad.
• Ask questions!!!-this concept may seem simple, but I want to emphasize it. Believe it or not, Dr. Workman can be a little intimidating at times, and people will often live in ignorance rather than venture to raise their voice in class or in his office. You'll get over the intimidation part, but ignorance is tough to deal with in organic chemistry.
• Do the homework problems assigned--this may also appear to be a simple concept to comprehend, but very few people actually listen. If you don't do the homework, you will be sorry.
• Do some of the unassigned problems in the back of the chapter. I'm not saying make this your new favorite pastime or anything, but before a test go back to the chapters you have covered in class and work some of the unassigned problems. Many time these problems will show upon the test.
• Set up residency in ___________ room then again, on second thought you had better stick with Dr. Workman's office!!!
• Don't miss class! If you miss class, you will get totally lost about the material covered that day. Dr. Workman is an excellent teacher, so take advantage of the situation and catch a nap later.
• Memorize! I know that Dr. Workman says that you don't really have much to memorize, but he is lying.
• Don't blow up the lab! this does not exactly score brownie points, and believe me it is possible.
• Have a clue of what is going on in class! Dr. Workman will ask questions in class of everybody repeatedly. If you never have the slightest idea of what the answer may be you will look stupid.
• Have a sense of humor! let's face it, not everybody is goingto get an ‘A'. But a good sense of humor will make a lower grade easier to take.