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Learning Organic Chemistry

I am sure some of you love Mathematics, some love Physics while others love Chemistry. But the secret of doing well in Chemistry is to love it because it sure will love you back. Be it Physical, Inorganic or Organic Chemistry, you have to learn to love it.

It is important to note that Chemistry and Physics are mere implications of real word happenings. These, as subjects, are a humane way of understanding how things happen. So, Chemistry does not teach us what will happen rather, it teaches us what is ‘likely to’ happen if this happens since that happened :P.

There’s no need to worry, though. Someone has worked really hard to find patterns making things easy to understand and apply for us.

Now, of all the Chemistries there are, Organic Chemistry is the best to score in. This is not because it is unimaginably easy. Inorganic is the easiest but, if I may say so from my perspective, it is a bit dull. Organic Chemistry is friendly because the rules set by researchers apply most of the times. Physical Chemistry is my personal favourite, but it is definitely the most difficult.

Frankly speaking, Organic Chemistry is the most logical because we can draw examples from real life which helps us to remember its rules. During my JEE preparation, my Organic Chemistry teacher took such examples. Based on these, he laid down few simple rules. It was long back but I still remember quite a few. Let me list some for you:

Be very thorough with stability criteria

You should be able to tell which, out of the two or more, is more stable. This can be achieved through practice on stability comparison problems such as



In the figures above, ‘a’ is more stable than ‘b’ because of angular strain present in ‘b’. Likewise, you may have to memorise a few cases. Keep your pride aside for some time and store these cases, it’ll help. For an n membered ring, it is a stable product  if n >4.

Acid-Base reactions are the fastest

Also known as Neutralization reactions, these are the quickest and will occur before any other reaction alternatives. Also, a strong acid will always react with a stronger base if there’s an option.

Intra-molecular reactions are faster than Inter-molecular reactions

There are molecules which may have both acidic and basic sites in themselves. If a reaction between the two sites within the molecule results in a stable producct, intramolecular reaction takes place in most of the cases. There may be a possibility of intermolecular reactions but mechanism majorly will proceed with intramolecular reaction.

Steric hindrance

A reaction will not proceed according to a mechanism where reactants have to face steric hindrance. For example bulky sites of reactants coming close to one another.

Derive Standard Reaction mechanisms

You should yourself try and work out mechanisms of standard reactions such as Aldol etc. This can be done comfortably since you know facts such as neutralisation reactions are fastest, intramolecular reactions are faster than intermolecular ones etc. They may sometimes ask you to choose a reaction mechanism based on the products and if you have practised these mechanisms it will be a piece of cake.

Stable product:

Out of the two or more possible products of a reaction, the more stable product is formed. This is almost always the observation. An unstable product may be formed provided it is the most stable possible product.

Rate Determining Step

They may ask you to determine RDS out of a series of reactions. You know which is the slowest one. That’s the RDS.

Don’t ignore these

IUPAC Nomenclature, Biomolecules, Practical organic Chemistry should NEVER be ignored. These will fetch you marks with a single look at the Question.

Now, we have an interesting story

‘I’ is a very poisonous insect found in W, a state in Mars. Andy, very intelligently using his knowledge of organic chemistry, produced poison from insect ‘I’. This, he used to kill his landlord Dan to escape rent payments. He was sure the Police will mistake Dan’s death to be caused by an I-bite. He was caught, however.

Despite all his knowledge of chemistry, Andy forgot that I’s poison was a 100% Laevo-rotatory compound (an optically active organic compound) and it is very difficult to artificially produce a 100% laevo form. So, what Andy produced was an enantiomeric mixture, i.e., Dextro-rotatory counterpart of I’s poison too. This led the Police to the only other expert of Organic Chemistry in Mars at the time, Andy.

Hope you enjoyed the article. You can revise special reactions in organic chemistry here.

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