Organic chemistry is one of those things that you either love or love to hate. There are no shades of grey. Nevertheless, it does account for about 40% of your chemistry and therefore over 13% of your overall score. So it’s a pretty big deal. I’ll assume that you’re one of the latter because why else would you be reading this? So from one organic-phobe to another, here is your path to salvation.
In general, organic chemistry questions are of two kinds – the ones that make you think and the ones that rely on your creativity. Fortunately for you, there is a common solution.
The first thing I would recommend you to do is to get your basics right. By basics, I mean General Organic Chemistry, which includes the types of isomers, types of reactions, bond formation and the like. Half the job is done if you get these on point and the extent to which you understand these concepts would decide your fate in organic chemistry. Trust me, my flimsy foundation made me witness all of my time and effort come crashing down on me.
Once you get those done, you move on to studying about different classes of organic compounds in detail. Attention to detail is key. No piece of information is insignificant. The most popular grievance people have about the subject is the sheer volume of things you need to “mug up”. Although it does appear daunting at first, it really isn’t that bad. As long as you know how the reactions happen, you’re good to go. Think about how and why bonds form and break. Then, write them down. My strategy was to write them down on pieces of paper and stick them on walls. Focus on named reactions like Aldol and Cannizaro – these are all time favourites in question papers.
More than remembering the reactions, knowing the mechanism is more important as questions in JEE are never direct. You are expected to have mastered the why’s and the how’s rather than the what’s. Also, focus on stuff below the arrow like catalysts and temperatures as these come in handy in questions where you need to guess the participants in the reactions.
This is one subject where experience is just as important as practice. I don’t see you cracking the exam without looking at past year’s papers. The general format of these questions is usually the same. You can expect the same types of questions with a couple of twists here and there.
One of the biggest challenges about Organic Chemistry is the choice of your reference and practice books, what with many books providing contradicting theory these days. As a safe recourse, you can refer to Morrison and Boyd for theory. If you want a more JEE-oriented book, ‘A Logical Approach to Modern Organic Chemistry’ is a good alternative.
For problems, ‘Advanced problems in Organic Chemistry’ is an excellent book. Although comprising of the occasional outlandishly difficult question, the book tests the very foundations of your learning. You can also subscribe to Toppr for our huge question bank and choice of great problems!
Just like any other topic, practice is everything. Do as many questions as you can because you can never be a complete master in organic chemistry but you can certainly get close enough to one!
All the best!