CHEM 235 Exam Prep – Organic Chemistry Lab Techniques

Here are the Flashcards I made – Glossary of terms

Laboratory maintenance

  • Do not put chemical back into original containers
  • Measure out hazardous chemicals at the fumehoods and transport them in closed containers
  • Clean your glassware with soap & multiple rinses with water at the end of each lab so it’s clean for the next lab ( video on proper cleaning)

Intro Video 1- Personal Protective Equipment

  • No sandals or open toed shoes. Wear leather closed toes shoes
  • Cover legs. no shorts
  • wear long sleeved shirt to cover your arms
  • wear knee length lab coat
  • do not wear hat
  • tie up your long hair. you might have to tuck your hair under the collar
  • wear protective safety goggles or normal prescription eyeglasses that are at 4 cm wide and tall. Wear glasses at all times while in the lab

Intro video 2 – Cleaning glassware

  • the successful outcome of experiments can be affected by how clean the glassware are.
  • sponges for cleaning the benchtops
  • begin cleaning by eliminating as much solid waste as you can. choose the appropriate size brush to clean. Add small amount of detergent and hot tap water and then scrub with brush. rinse with tap water thoroughly. If still dirty, use Comet.
  • be very careful when cleaning the inner tube of the condenser. It is not necessary to clean the outer jacket or outlets
  • do not put a brush into the tip of a separatory funnel
  • shake out water after rinsing
  • put the glassware in your locker on its bottom. the opening must be exposed to air
  •  do not use paper towel to dry
  • In some cases, use acetone at the acetone washing station
  • If you need to dry quickly to use again, use acetone. If it will be in contact with water based solution, acetone is not necessary.

Introductory video 3- waste disposal

  • there’s a solid waste container in a large fumehood. don’t put glass there.
  • glassware such as capillary tubes should go to the glass waste container.
  • flush water based solutions down the sink e.g. the hcl, h2so4, naoh, nahco3 (inorganic acids and bases). flush with running water for at least a minute
  • put organic solvents into the red cans labelled liquid organic waste e.g. diethyl ether, methylene chloride. the container is next to the solid waste.
  • acetone has its own special disposal can beside the glass waste.

What to do in case of a fire

  • turn off the heat source
  • place a watchglass over the top of the vessel
  • try to remove solvent bottles and equipment away from fire
  • fires involving small amounts of solvent will burn out harmlessly
  • dry chemical or co2 fire extinguisher for bigger fires

What to do for spills

  • flush, safety shower
  • get rid of clothes with chemical spills
  • sweep off floor, wipe up with wet sponge if inorganic. if organic, use paper towel
  • eye- flush with water for 15- 30 minutes


  • class a = compressed gas
  • class b = flammable and combustible material
  • class c = oxidizing material
  • CLASS D 1 =  poisonous and infectious
  • class d = materials causing other toxic effects
  • class d3 = biohazardous
  • class e= corrosive
  • class f= dangerously reactive material


  • do prep work
  • do homework questions due at the start of lab
  • the quality of your product matters
  • there will be quizzes
  • **remember that you must always use ink



  • water Based solution
  • Immiscible organic solvent e.g. ether
  • Separatory funnel
  • Dissolve compounds in the ether solution
  • Split the aqueous solution into 3. Use a graduated cylinder
  • Funnel never more than 2/3 full
  • Fix and invert and release pressure
  • No whoosh sound is good
  • A bit that is mix, do its own beaker
  • Pour out the top of funnel and cork it up
  • Cork and ground glass joint
  • Boiling chip
  • Container with water
  •  Put in the flash, add boiling chip
  • Add just enough solvent to cover the compound
  • Wes condenser to the outlets, wet the ends of the tubing first
  • Put the whole apparatus.
  • Two sided clamp LOOSELY around body of wes condenser
  • Put the tubing over the metal thing to keep it out of the way.
  • Attach the lower out to the water source and let the other one spill out into the sink. Be gentle when you turn it on.
  • Boil at high heat
  • Use a paper, folded, thick strip around the top of the flash to stir the flask
  • If not dissolve when boil, dropper some solvent until dissolves
  • Remove flash from hot plate USING A CLAMP around the flash.
  • Remove from the wes condenser and clamp at an angle to the bench. Do not disturb in any way.
  • Evaporate away solvent, add incompatible solvent ( compound does not dissolve in this solvent), ice water bath
Simple distillation
  • 100 ml Rb
  • Still head adaptor
  • thermometer
  • Collection vessel

Filtering Unwanted solids

  • Gravity filtration using filter paper
  • Erlenmeyer flask large enough that solvent occurs no more than 1/2 its volume
  • Glass filter funnel
  • You want to keep the solvent but not the solids
  • Use the small ring clap with a gap
  • Hot filtration – preheat in oven
  • Pour solution down a rod to avoid splash
  • Rinse flash with ice cold solvent to get rid of bits
  • If flow slows, push the filter paper down
Filtering wanted solids – suction filtration
  • Suction trap = the big one
  • Use three pronged clamp for the filter flash
  • Temporarily disconnect the vacuum before you add the crystals so you don’t break your crystals
  • Press down on funnel for better seal
  • Use ice cold solvent or use the MOTHER LIQUOR, pour down the stirring rod
  • Do suction for several minutes to dry the crystals
  • Use spatula to flip onto a watch glass and let it dry
  • Cover with weighing paper to protect
  • It’s easier to take crystals off the filter paper when dry
Preparing a sample for melting points
  • Micro cover glasses
  • Capillary tubes
  • Drop tube
  • Fischer Johns or mel temp
  • Grind the solid into fine particle -> crush on watch glass using a test tube
  • Fischer john -> all crystals touching it each, none too close to edge, use copper cooled in ice bath to cool
  • 3 -4 mm in capillary tube, drop tube more than once, firmly packed no more than 2-3 mm
Taking melting points
  • Heating block/sample well
  • If known, raise temp to max until 15-20 below expected melting point. Reduce the rate so rate rises 2 degrees per minute.
  • First drop of liquid amongst the crystals. 2nd temp – whole solid mass turns to liquid. The melting point is both of these numbers
  • If unknown, max until melting is noticed. The observed temp is lower than the true melting point because lag between thermometer reading and actual temperature of heating block. Allow cooling until 20 degrees lower than observed melting point
  • Plastic beaker with ice -> wipe off moisture. Use hot hands device.
  • All used in glass waste container
  • Calibration equation – CORRECT THE TEMP READING USING CALIBRATION EQUATION. Y = true mp. x.= observed mp
  • Use hair dryer to cool. If known, heat until 10 degrees below known mp. Preliminary reading will be lower than true. Let cool until 20 degrees lower than preliminary reading. Heat at 2 deg increase per minute.
Calibrating a thermometer
  • Ice bath in 400 ml beaker glass.
  • Immersion line is covered by water. Stir ice bath gently to ensure even distribution of temperature. If not exactly 0, adjust your readings. For distillations, glycerol at tip, insert into stilled adaptor until immersion line is completely covered.
Thin layer chromatography-
  • Rapid separation and qualitative analysis of small amount of material
  • Cannot be used for volatile compounds
  • Partition of compounds between moving liquid phase and solid stationary phase
  • 100 ml beaker
  • 1/2 moon paper
  • Silica gel plate
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Spotting solvent
  • Dissolve your compound in a volatile solvent, spot onto your plate, the volatile solvent evaporates and the compound gets absorbed onto solid plate.
  • Dip plate into developing solvent, capillary action
  • Compound attracted to moving liquid phase (the developing solvent that moves by capillary action) and moves with it. Different substances attracted to moving phase differently so moves different amounts.
  • ** LEAST POLAR SUBSTANCE MOVES FURTHER since liquid phase is less polar than the solid phase. **
  • Rf = distance traveled by compound/ distance traveled by the solvent from t
What to do if there’s a fire
  • Turn off the heat
  • Put a watch glass on top to smother the flames
  • Remove solvents and equipment from area
  • Most fires will burn out by themselves but if not, use fire extinguisher


How to succeed in Organic Chemistry CHEM 233

So, I bought my CHEM 233 textbook on Craigslist and the seller turned out to be Sarah who I went to high school. Sarah is a year ahead of me but has always been very kind and friendly. She’s also highly intelligent and will be attending UT Pharmacy school this fall. I wish her best of luck! Her tips for succeeding in CHEM 233 are:

  • You should get a textbook for this class.
  • Invest in the Carbonless Copy paper. You need it.
  •  Do practice questions. There’s no way you can do all the questions in the book but make sure you do some.
  • Do not freak out if you fail a midterm, especially midterm 2. Fail as in under 50%, not under 90%. Failure happens. Apparently the final is really easy so you’ll be okay.
  • That said, do not freak about failing CHEM 233 the course. Loads and loads of students pass CHEM 233. You’ll also pass as along as you don’t play Pokemon Go all day every day this semester.


Note-taking tips

If taking notes for you doesn’t help you, don’t take notes. There are high-achieving students that do not take notes.

The primary goal of taking notes is to condense the material so that you don’t have to refer back to the lectures or the textbook when you’re studying for the exam. You want your notes to only contain what you need to know and not other fluff so that you can study efficiently.


  • Super helpful for visual learners
  • the diagrams only need to make sense to you .
  • Diagrams are really helpful to study physiology. Draw out neurons, xylem and phloem
  • Use colour. ions flowing in can be red, ions flowing out can be green.


  •  It helps you remember because you’re engaging your visual memory better when you use different colours rather than the same boring old colour. The key is keep your mind from getting bored.
    This year I’m using: 48 Coloured Pens. I seriously bought 48 pens. If you scroll back to my posts during final exams, I wrote about using 6 or so pens within two days. I wrote a LOT.


  • I haven’t used this tip yet but I was told that charts are great for studying pharmacology.


  • If powerpoints are provided by the professor
  • This will save you a lot of time during the lecture!
  • Unfortunately, a lot of my first year classes did not provide powerpoint but my second year level courses did. On the plus side first years, you get to use your favourite Moleskine or other cute notebook. Yay!


  • Exam questions often test little details so listen carefully for your professor to hint at what little detail is important.


  • That said, for your long-term learning, it’s more important to know what big picture concepts are important. Indicate what these are for yourself because it’s easy to forget when you have pages and pages of notes that you took 3 months ago.


  • Writing by hand helps you remember better than typing. There is research to back this up!
  • It’s easier to draw diagrams and sketch molecules and formulas.


  • Lined paper will get crumpled and lost. You will cry if you lose that page of notes that your professor said that you absolutely must remember for your midterm.
  • A notebook also keeps everything in order so you don’t have to sort through a pile asking yourself if where is that sheet that comes after the sheet that says “see next sheet”.
  • Notebooks that I’ll be using this semester: Extra Large Moleskines. These are more expensive than the 25 cent notebooks that I used last year but I believe that paying for high quality is important. I also know that having a nicer notebook will motivate me to take neater notes

I used a two pocket Folder.

  • One side containing the class syllabus, the class schedule, old assignments that got handed back are tucked in the back of this side
  • The other side contains the current class’s assigned readings or assignment, plus new handouts that I got.


The colour system I used was:

  • Yellow notebook and folder for Physics
  • Red notebook and folder for Chemistry
  • Blue notebook and folder for Biology
  • Purple folder for English. A notebook wasn’t too necessary because I liked to write on the printed out poem.
  • Argyle print notebook and Panda folder for Math. Gotta be totally random for one of the classes.


  • I did this for Microbiology but not for other classes.
  • Rewrite the most important concepts
  • Rewrite this again and again until you have it memorized
  • Close to the exam, go back to the powerpoints and fill in details
  • Credits to Andrea for introducing me to this method of rewriting notes

Best MCAT books

The word MCAT strikes dread and fear into the hearts of premeds.

Best content review: 10th Edition Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package (EXAMKRACKERS MCAT MANUALS). Past MCAT takers and medical students have said that ExamCrackers is best if you want a concise review of content. It also comes with a 10-week study plan that details which chapters to cover.

Best CARS practice: MCAT Verbal Practice: 108 Passages for the new CARS Section. It’s a thick book. Advice from past MCAT takes is that the only way to get good at CARS is to practice. 

If you’re weak in Biology: Examkrackers 1001 Questions in MCAT Biology. A medical student I talked to did ALL the questions. A current surgical resident said that she did every 3rd question or so.

If you’re weak in OChem: Examkrackers: 1001 Questions in MCAT, Organic Chemistry  OChem. Enough said.

Best on-the-go study resource: Barron’s MCAT Flash Cards

How to self-study for AP exams

This post is for high school students. I got a 5 on my AP Biology without taking the course, 5 on AP Calculus with taking the course, and a 4 on AP Chemistry with taking the course. These are the resources that I personally found helpful when I studied. I spent a lot of time combing through blogs and forums to decide on which books to buy before studying. Yay you get to benefit from both my research and my personal experience using them.

I’ve linked the newest version of the resources for you but I actually used older editions of these. I love buying books on Amazon because my local bookstores didn’t have them. 

General tips

  • Buy your  books/flashcards as early as possible (September if possible!) so you can start using it as you take the course because….
  • …You should start studying as early as possible!
  • Focus on practice questions and exams more than content review. That’s the difference between a 4 and 5. Practice practice practice.
  • Use pre-made flashcards to study on your way home from softball games, jazz band practices, on your way to a party, whatever.

AP Biology

Recommended books: Cliffnotes, 5 Steps to a 5

Everyone talks about studying with Cliffnotes.  I was going through this carefully when I started studying. I ran out of time close to the exam so I switched to my AP Biology 5 steps to a 5. I took this review book with me everywhere. Very close to the exam, I locked myself into my bedroom and made my review books my best friends. 5 Steps to a 5 is thin enough that I studied while I was sitting in class. To be fair, I only dd this when we were watching a movie in class (which oddly my classes did a lot of) or the school technology wasn’t working yet again and everyone was sitting around staring at the teacher try to fix the computer and not if there was a lecture going on. I think the Cliffnotes covered information more in depth while the 5 Steps to 5 give a quick overview and had good practice questions.

PRO TIP TO GET a 5: If your extracurricular schedule is insansely busy as mine was, invest in a pre-made flashcard set! I studied my flashcards on the way home from softball games, jazz band practices, and more. If you study 10 minutes everyday 6 days a week, you gain a hour of time! The small pain is worth it when you get a hour to go for ice cream with your friends one week, to drop in on a party the second week, to study for your regular school classes. Get the flashcards.

AP Biology Cliffnotes:

AP Biology 5 steps to a 5:

AP Biology Barrons Flashcards:


AP Calculus

Princeton review is the only way to go. I’ve passed on my Princeton review to my younger brother because it was my saviour. I’m actually awful at math so I relied on review books and practice questions to get me a 5.

Best for Calculus AB: Princeton Review

Best for Calculus BC: Princeton Review

The key to doing well in math courses is do as many practice questions as possible! I just bought this set of practice questions for my younger brother who is writing the AP Calc exam this May.

AP Chemistry

I recommend taking the in-school course which helped me a lot for AP Chemistry. I don’t think I could have learned as well if I only self-studied. My friend Seon Yeong bought the Barrons so we shared resources.  I think the practice questions in the Princeton review are superior to the questions in Barrons but I think the content review explanations are better in Barrons.

Best book to study AP Chemistry: Princeton Review

If you’re shaky on content or are completely self-teaching, Barrons 


Good luck on your AP Exams. Hope you all get 5s!

Books about how to succeed in college and get good grades

I’ve read all of these books over and over again. I bought and gave my Cal Newport books to my younger brother.They made a HUGE difference to the way I study and the way I approach university. I’ve put my absolute most favourite books here!

How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students

I just bought a copy of this for myself on Sunday.  I’m going to try to implement my favourite tips and record how they help or not help me here on this blog this upcoming semester. As a writer myself, I want to support writers by buying physical copies of their books. I do not want to post the specific advice that Cal gives in his book to respect the work he put in to write his book. So if you want to do this challenge to become outstanding students together with me, please pick up a copy of his book and work on trying “win at college”. (But I’m Canadian so I’m trying to win at university haha)
How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

Don’t we all want Straight As? If you can’t tell already, Cal Newport is one of my favourite authors. This one contains detailed tips on how to write a great paper, take notes for math classes which is different from taking notes in humanities classes, how to manage time so you get good grades and still have time to go to the gym and hit up a toga party. #goals


Medical School 2.0: An Unconventional Guide to Learn Faster, Ace the USMLE, and Get Into Your Top Choice Residency

If I get into medical school, I follow the advice in this book. I have already used the Paul Farmer study method this year to study for MICB 202 and it helped. I also got introduced to the notion of Paul Farmer through this book. How have I not known who Paul Farmer is all these years? Crazy, considering how much I look up to Paul Farmer now.

How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out)

This is a book that guided through the high school and helped me get into university. As an university student, I still find these tips helpful. If you’re a high school student trying to tune up your study habits and get into a competitive post-secondary education, read it!!

SUPER SECRET TIP for reading to end of this post: If you’re starting or already in university, you can get free shipping! Use it to buy your textbooks, leisure reading books, school supplies, new computer, clothes, whatever. Join Prime Student  FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

Thank you for reading!

BIOL 260 – Fundamentals of Physiology

Tips for an A+

• The weekly pre reading assignments are really short and easy. Do not stress about them but make sure you do them.

• clicker marks are participation based so don’t worry about getting them wrong. • Important: Keep up with your pre readings.

• Even if you take notes on a computer, bring a pen because there are hand-in at the end of the lecture assignments.

• Come to class early to get a seat near the front.

• There are no old exams available to study from but the professors make a ton of practice questions for you. • Do as many practice questions as you have time for.

• Befriend a classmate through the course online forum. I befriended Erica through the forum! • Share your answers to the practice questions with your classmates.

• I left the midterms and finals wanting to cry. If you feel this, don’t cry and have faith that the TAs may think that your answers sound more coherent than you think they do.

Suggested professors: Dr Schulte and Dr Tortelle

MICB 202 – Medical Microbiology and Immunology

• Do the pre readings

• Be sure to buy the Custom textbook for this course. It will help you a lot because the professors do not have time to cover everything in their lectures.

• The wording of the quizzes can be tricky.

• The exams are really easy (especially the midterm) and are multiple choice only.

• Be prepared for entertaining analogies

• Lecture attendance is not mandatory. There are no clickers.

Suggested professors: Dr. Tracy Kion, Dr. Thompson

CHEM 123 – Introductory physical and Organic Chemistry

Tips for success

Take notes by hand, especially for Organic chemistry.

• don’t do all the questions in the problem sets. They’re not worth your time.

• Of the practice problems that you do, walk yourself through them step by step.

• Do the practice midterms.

• Don’t do the extremely old practice exams because the exam format has changed.

• If your learning style doesn’t click with your professor, stop going to class. I respected Dr Chou for telling us on the first day that he will not punish us for our different learning styles and will not deduct marks if we do not come to class.

• Do not stress too much about getting clicker questions wrong. Clicker questions are worth little in the grand scheme of things.

• Buy the Organic chemistry Workbook. It’s helpful though you likely will not have time to do all the problems.

• Do not buy the Physical Chemistry workbook. I barely used it because lecture notes were enough.

Chem 123 Lab:

• Do your pre lab at least the night before. The stress of doing the pre lab a hour before it is due is not fun

• Take pre lab quizzes seriously.

• Listen carefully to your TA’s suggestions on how to do your lab report

• PRO TIP: ERASABLE PENS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND. I wish someone told me to use them so I didn’t have to awkwardly cross things out. Chem labs are pen only so if you make mistakes, you’re not allowed to use whiteout. Game over friends.

• On that note, you must use black or blue pen. I love colourful pens but pink or orange or purple pens do not belong here.
I personnally used Pilot 0.5 mm but any erasable pens will do


Suggested professors: for Physical Chemistry, Dr Keng Chou, Dr Glen Sammis. For Organic

Chemistry Dr Jason Hein.

MATH 103 – Integral Calculus

How to get an A+ in this class:

• utilize the help of your peers on the Piazza website and give help in return

• Make friends that also take MATH 103 and meet to work on OSH together

• Review your old assignments and quizzes to see what you did wrong.

• Get your homework done at reasonable time before it’s due but not too early when you haven’t learned the concepts yet. Do not do next week’s assignment as soon as it comes out.

• The paper version of the textbook is a waste of money.

• Even though this is math class, take notes.

• Always come to class on quiz days. If you can’t come to class on an OSH day, make sure you have a trusted friend hand in your assignments for you.

• Keep copying notes down even if you get totally lost during a lecture.

• Compile a list of formula that you refer often to so you don’t have to flip through your note every time to find what you need.

• Be psychologically prepared to feel pressed for time during math exams.

• Pick up your old exams and review them to see what you did wrong

Suggested professor: Dr Edwin Perkins. Dr Perkins is super friendly and generous about helping his students to work through what they don’t understand.

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