Organic Chemistry Reference Sheet (Click Here for Organic Introduction)

How to pass O-Chem


If you think about it, organic chemistry seems easy: There isn't much math or calculations and it's all about carbon. It's about a relatively simple element that can only have 4 bonds and has a molecular mass of 12.01g/mol.  So why do so many students struggle and end up failing organic chemistry?


If you are a student taking an o-chem class in college, a key to passing the course is just knowing the terms on this page. Many science student fail organic chemistry because much of it is dependent upon memorization in addition to conceptualization of reactions and structures.


Here's what you need to memorize to pass organic chem:

  • Functional Groups
  • Nomenclature Rules
  • Reaction Types
  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Acid-Base
  • Conformation Types
  1. Benzene ring (ortho, meta, para, for disubstituted benzene shown below)
  2. Trans vs. cis
  3. R vs. S
  4. Boat and Chair conformation for cyclohexane, cyclooctane
  • Structures of simple organic molecules
  • Organic Prefixes
Numerical Prefixes for IUPAC Nomenclature

Number of Carbons

Prefix
1
meth-
2
eth-
3
prop-
4
but-
5
pent-
6
hex-
7
hept-
8
oct-
9
non-
10
dec-
11
undec-
12
dodec-
13
tridec-
14
tetradec-
20
eicos-



TOPICS FOR COLLEGE ORGANIC CHEMISTRY STUDENTS

  • Absorption Spectrum - plot of wavelength vs. absorbance at each wavelength for a compound
  • Achiral molecule (not chiral)- Molecule that is superposable on its mirror image
  • Activating group - A functional group when present on the benzene ring causes increased reactivity of the ring as a whole
  • Acyl Group - Groups with the form RCO-- , ArCO--
  • Addition Reaction - A reaction that forms a product with an increased number of groups attached to two atoms that are bound by a double or triple bond.
  • Aliphatic Compound - A nonaromatic compound (eg. no benzene rings)
  • Alkanes - Hydrocarbons with only single bonds joined each carbon atom.
  • Alkenes - Hydrocarbons that have a minimum of one double bond between carbon atoms.
  • Alkynes - Hydrocarbons that have at least one triple bond between carbon atoms.
  • Aufbau principle - states that electrons are added to orbitals in a way that orbitals of lowest energy are filled first.
  • Benzene ring
  • Boat conformation - Cyclohexane form resembling the shape of a boat
  • Bond Angle - The angle between two bonds that protrude from the same atom
  • Bond Length - the length of a bond between two atoms, usually measured in Angstroms
  • Chair conformation - The lowest energy form of cyclohexane, resembles the shape of a chair
  • Chiral molecule - A molecule not superposable on its mirror image
  • Electrophile - "electron seeker", a Lewis acid or an electron pair acceptor
  • Elimination Reaction - A reaction resulting in the loss of two groups and the formation of a double bond
  • Enantiomers - Stereoisomers that are mirror images
  • Formal Charge
  • Functional Group - A group of atoms on a molecule that determines reactivity
  • Grignard Reagent - A reagent with the formula RMgX, an organomagnesium halide
  • Hemiacetal - A functional group with a carbon attached to a hydroxyl and alkoxyl group
  • HOMO - Highest occupied molecular orbital
  • Hybridization - mixing of atomic orbitals whose result retains character of either orbital
  • Hydrocarbon - A compound containing only carbon and oxygen atoms
  • Hydrogen Bond - A very strong interaction between a hydrogen atom and an electronegative atom usually O, N or F
  • IR Spectroscopy - Spectroscopy in the Infrared range of radiation, the most common form of spectroscopy for organic compounds.
  • Intermediate - a compound formed from one reaction before taking place in another reaction.
  • Isomers - molecules with the same molecular formula but with different structures
  • Leaving group - a group of atoms that departs following reaction that takes with it bonding electrons
  • Lewis Structure - A diagram illustrating the atoms and bonds between them in a compound
  • LUMO - Lowest unoccupied molecular orbital
  • Markovnikov's Rule
  • Mass Spectrometry - An analytical technique to determine the mass to charge ratio of atoms and to determine the abundance of certain atoms in a sample
  • Nucleophile - Loves a positive charge, provides an electron pair to bond with a species to form a covalent bond.
  • Octet Rule - A rule that states each atom in a molecule has eight valence electrons surrounding it.
  • R,S System
  • Racemic Form
  • SN1 Reaction
  • SN2 Reaction
  • Stereoisomers - Isomers that have a different arrangement of ligands in 3D space.
  • Steric Hindrance - electron cloud overlap causing interference in reactivity of a substance

MUST-KNOW ORGANIC CHEMISTRY TERMS FOR STUDENTS