MCAT Organic Chemistry Review

Analyzing Organic Reactions

Introduction

Sitting down to MCAT organic chemistry problems can be overwhelming at first, particularly if the reactants or reagents are new to you. The reactions on the page may seem like stage magic—fun to watch, but controlled by forces outside of our knowledge. The good news, however, is that organic chemistry isn’t magic—and it is governed by sets of rules that make understanding what will happen much simpler. In this chapter, we will go over several of the aspects that determine how a complex reaction proceeds, and take a brief look at functional group reactivity. Then, armed with this knowledge, we lay out the simple, sequential steps that we can use to determine which reactions will take place. Chapters 5 through 10 of MCAT Organic Chemistry Review focus on applications of these principles with different functional groups, so look for patterns between these reactions as you continue preparing for Test Day. With these tools in hand, we can show the MCAT that we know how the trick is done—it isn’t magic.