Sunday, October 14, 2012

How Much Time Should I Invest In Studying Organic Chemistry?

As an organic chemistry tutor, one of the questions often asked by my students is as follows:

How much time should I invest in my Organic Chemistry studies?

And while the answer will be different for every single student, I do have a 'ballpark' figure. If you are taking organic chemistry for the first time, in the Spring or Fall semester, you should expect and aim to invest a minimum of 10 study hours per week.


Organic chemistry is not easy, and I have a series of recommended steps to help you understand and properly master the information. But if you approach this course as you did any other course, perhaps with the intention of studying just 2 hours a week think again. If you are the type of student who only studies the night before an exam.


Organic chemistry is a difficult course containing many vital concepts and foundation topics that have to be studied and mastered slowly over time. The concepts are all connected, which means you will be constantly building upon the foundation of the material you have studied beforehand.

But TEN hours a week, is there even enough material for so much study?

Of course there is the first and most important study step; reading the book prior to attending lecture. If you attempt to understand the information by hearing it for the first time in lecture you will be lost within five minutes.

Instead, I recommend that you expose yourself to the material prior to attending the lecture. You may not understand much of what you are reading, but at least you will have this initial exposure.

Once your professor begins explaining concepts, hopefully the information will start falling into place.

Now that you have attended the lecture, you are likely still confused about some of the topics, and so it is time to read the textbook AGAIN.

This time however, don't just skim the information. Instead you should take the time to read through each paragraph carefully. Ensure that you understand every topic mentioned, and that you are able to follow every practice example given.

Most textbooks will include a practice problem or two after each concept taught. Test yourself by doing this problem. If you get it correct, AND understand every aspect of the question, then you can move on. If you are not fully confident with the material so far, go back and review again.

This initial chapter study process should take you a few hours minimum.

The next step is to do the practice problems at the end of the chapter to ensure that you are able to apply what you have studied to different formats of the question.

Rinse and Repeat (meaning do this all over again. Read, practice, end of chapter problems)

Sometimes your textbook is not enough, that's where external resources come in handy. Some of these include Organic Chemistry Tutorial Videos practice quizzes and more.

Or go the full mile and hire an organic chemistry tutor to help you break down and understand the concepts in depth as you are learning them in class.

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