Monday, 27 June 2016

Step by Step Guide to Creating Mind Maps for Organic Reactions

In the previous post, I shared that the use of mind map is a good way to memorize reactions tested in organic chemistry. Simply because, the reactions are very much connected to one another. For instance, dehydration of alcohols produce alkenes, which can be converted to alkanes by an addition reaction.

In this post, I would like to work with you to create mind maps for organic reactions. Are you ready?

Step 0: Read through the Organic Chemistry Chapters

Before you even create a mind map, you should know what the topics are talking about. As such, step 0 involves reading to familiarize yourself with the topic. Know the big picture, what each chapter is talking about, before proceeding with the next step.

Step 1: Think of a Central Topic

Once you have finished reading the chapters, and are roughly familiar with what is inside each chapter the next step is to think of a central topic for the mind map.

The central topic is where you would like your mind map link out from. It will be written in the middle of the page. From there you would branch sub- topics out from this central topic.

When I started doing mind maps with students, they often tell me that this is the hardest part. If you have problem coming up with a central topic, let me give you a suggestion. Give yourself two minutes. Write down whatever phrases or words that you can think of as a central topic. At the end of the two minutes, use another two minutes to choose one that you feel is the most suitable as the central topic. There is no answer for which is the best central topic (because there simply isn't any).

Step 2: Link Subtopics to the Central Topic

Once you have come up with a central topic, the next step is to link other information to the central topic. There are two ways to do so.

If you are very familiar with organic chemistry, treat this as a revision time, and associate the central topic with what you can remember. From there, branch out further.

If it is the first time you are doing the revision, consider writing out all the reactions that you want to include in the mind map. You may like to refer to here and here for the reactions that are tested for O level organic chemistry.

Step 3: Review what you have written

Once you have completed your mind map, review what you have written. This involves looking at what you have written, and revisiting your text book or notes to see if there are additional items you would like to include, or if the information is accurate. 

Finally, absorb what you have written!

Coming Up Next

In the next post, I will be sharing with you some examples of mind maps for organic reactions. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

How to memorize the reactions in Organic Chemistry?

I shared how to memorize the qualitative analysis tables for cations in one of my previous posts. In this post, I will be sharing with you how to memorize the reactions in the organic chemistry chapters, namely alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and carboxylic acids.

The topic I like to revise most is organic chemistry. Despite having quite a number of chapters, be it in O levels or A levels syllabuses, the good thing about these chapters is, they are linked. One useful method to summarize the reactions in these chapters is by using mind maps.

What are Mind Maps?

According to wikipedia, a mind map is a diagram used to organize information.

You start off with a central topic, and link the central topic to other subtopics. These subtopics are then linked to other topics. As such, the main purpose of studying with mind maps is to see the association between different topics. You can find more information on mind maps here.

Applying Mind Maps for Organic Chemistry Reaction

Step 1: Think of a Central Topic
As can be seen, the first thing you need to start a mind map, is to decide on a central topic. Take a few minutes, and think of which central topic you would like to start with.

Many spend too much time deciding on the central topic, and at the end of the day, give up on the doing mind maps. Well, honestly, while having a good central topic may make creating a mind map easier, it really doesn't matter. I gave my students 2 minutes to come up with a central topic, and start creating mind maps from this central topic. No matter which central topic they come up with, they all manage to complete a mind map with all the important reactions.

So, what's your central topic?

Step 2: Link all the information together

Once you have decided on a central topic, the next steps required are to link all the key reactions to the central topic. And, you have a mind map for organic reactions.


The purpose of a mind map is to aid you in your studies. As I discussed above, you shouldn't be spending too much time on coming up with a central topic (the first one you can think of in 2 minutes should be it), and linking up the information.

While mind maps are a very good way of summarizing what you have learnt, I would recommend that you read through all the chapters on organic chemistry first before you start to make your own one. It is only when you have an overall understanding of what you need to know, then can you make a mind map that captures the key information required.

In order to develop a mind map for organic chemistry reaction, take note of the following while reading the chapters:

  • what are the reactions
  • which functional group is the product/ reactant in
  • can the product/ reactant form another compound. If so, what reaction is it.
With the information above, create a mind map.

In the next post, I will be sharing with you the steps to creating a mind map for organic chemistry reactions. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Phase 2 of Secondary School Chemistry

The first half of the year was pretty hectic for me, with my new baby. Life is getting stable now, and I will be spending more time on this blog.
Over the next two months, I will be embarking on phase 2 of Secondary School Chemistry blog. This phase will have even more questions in the question banks, and I am thinking of doing more video tutorials.

While I will be finalizing my plans over the next two days, feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment below, on what you hope to see in the blog.

Stay tuned!

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