Course Exam—CHEM 350 (Organic Chemistry I)

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CHEM 350 (Organic Chemistry I) is a three-credit, senior-level chemistry course that covers the chemistry of carbon compounds through a study of the characteristic reactions of the common functional groups.  This course emphasizes the study of reaction mechanisms to show similarities between apparently unrelated reactions.  The importance of stereochemistry is stressed throughout the course.  CHEM 350 also covers an introduction to the use of spectroscopy in the analysis of organic compounds.

Students should be aware that credit for CHEM 217 (Chemical Principles I) and CHEM 218 (Chemical Principles II), or courses equivalent to a six-credit, first-year university general chemistry course should be obtained prior to enrolling into CHEM 350.  Students who do not have the formal prerequisites may take the course with the permission of the coordinator, if they are judged to have the necessary background and experience.  Concurrent registration in CHEM 218 and CHEM 350 is not permitted.  To avoid unnecessary delays, the course professor will normally grant permission for students to register in CHEM 350 as soon as the final examination in CHEM 218 has been written.  CHEM 350 is not available for challenge.

If you are interested in learning more about Chemical Principles I and Chemical Principles II, read my CHEM 217 and CHEM 218 Course Exam articles.

CHEM 350 has a compulsory laboratory component that requires students to complete around thirty-two hours of laboratory work (there are three lab formats).  Credit may be obtained for equivalent laboratory work carried out within the last five years at a recognized college or university.  Laboratory sessions are offered throughout the year in Edmonton.  It is strongly recommended that laboratory work be undertaken when about two-thirds of the course has been completed.  All labs are mandatory, and lab work and assignments should be completed before the final examination is attempted.

Organic Chemistry I is made up of sixteen units, with assignments weighing ten percent, laboratory work weighing a total of twenty percent, a midterm examination worth twenty percent, and a final examination for the remaining fifty percent.  To receive credit for CHEM 350, students must achieve a course composite grade of at least a “D”, or fifty percent.  Students must achieve a minimum grade of forty-five percent on each examination, an average of at least sixty percent on the assignments, and an average of at least fifty-five percent on the laboratory work.

Heather Fox is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences program at Athabasca University and she hopes to be finished in just over a year.  She has also completed CHEM 217, CHEM 218, and CHEM 350 at AU.  A stay at home mom in Calgary, Alberta, Heather has twin toddlers and a teenager, and notes “I work from home running a successful Etsy shop, and also volunteer on the side for our local twin association.”

When asked to explain CHEM 350 to students, Heather states “This was a basic organic chemistry class.  I found it quite a bit more difficult than the previous chemistry classes.  It covered the nomenclature and structure of the different organic molecules, as well as the different classes of organic molecules and their applicable reactions.  The textbook was a wiki text and I personally did not like it at all.  I felt that it didn’t cover the material as clearly as it could have, and I was often left to research more information on my own and I had to look for textbooks I could pull reactions etc. from.  I also found the practice questions were not helpful.”

As for the structure of the course, Heather explains that she “had two assignments, a midterm, a final, and lab reports.  I found the assignments challenging, as I don’t feel that the course material provided adequately prepared me for them and I really had to search for more information. I relied on my tutor a lot for help.

“The labs were done over a four-day period in Edmonton and I really enjoyed them.  The lab staff was very helpful and knowledgeable.  The lab write ups were all done by hand, which was a little frustrating because I prefer to type them up.  There were practice exams provided for the midterm and finals, and they did help prepare for the exams.”

Heather would not recommend this course, explaining that she “felt that the material provided isn’t enough to help students and it was very stressful to try to figure it out.  I feel like there should be an actual textbook, not a wiki text that can be changed.”

As for tips and tricks to successfully completing this course, Heather states “Try to find as many practice questions as you can online to help figure out the reactions.  Do not be afraid to reach out to your tutor as much as you need to succeed in the course.  I also found Leah4Sci’s YouTube channel very helpful to learn reactions and steps.”

As for communicating with her tutor, Heather states “I didn’t have any issues with the tutor, exams and assignments were marked quickly and they were always quick to reply to emails.  She even set up a virtual desktop tutoring session for me before my final where she explained everything in detail and took the time to answer all of my questions and showed me virtually how the reactions were done.”

When asked if she would change anything about the course, she states “I hated the online textbook and would recommend switching to an actual textbook, whether it be digital or hardcopy.”

Whether CHEM 350 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics mentioned above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of interesting material surrounding the topic of organic chemistry.