Chemguide: Support for CIE A level Chemistry

Learning outcome 21: Organic synthesis

21.1: Organic synthesis

Learning outcome 21.1.1

This statement is about using all the organic chemistry you know so far.

Before you go on, you should find and read the statement in your copy of the syllabus.

I can't teach you how to do this sort of question - it depends on the knowledge you have already built up.

You shouldn't even think of doing this section until right at the end of your AS level course when your knowledge of organic chemistry is at a very high level. Trying to do this section if you aren't confident about organic chemistry is a waste of time.

If you aren't confident, then the first thing you have to do is to revise the organic chemistry so that your understanding is good. It doesn't matter at the moment if you can't always remember the detail, but you must understand the main processes.

This represents the sort of questions that CIE have asked for quite a lot of years, so it is easy to find examples to practise on. And that is actually the only real way of dealing with this section. Make sure that you only look at questions from papers 1 and 2 at this stage.

These questions will often start with a scarily complicated molecule, usually drawn as a skeletal formula. It is important that you can identify the functional groups in the molecule (ester, carbonyl group, carbon-carbon double bond and so on), so that you know how that part of the molecule will react with various things.

I will say again - it is pointless looking at questions of this sort until near the end of the first half of your course when you are confident about organic chemistry.

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© Jim Clark 2020