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Functional Groups in Organic Chemistry

Functional groups are combinations of atoms within organic molecules that are responsible for the reactivity of the molecules. The functional groups a molecule contains also play a role in determining its physical properties. Although the chemical behavior of a functional group may be modified by overall molecular structure, it is a powerful analytical method to approach the reactivity of an organic molecule in terms of the functional groups it contains.

Understanding the behaviors of the main organic functional groups in organic chemistry is another way to describe, really, understanding the basics of organic reaction chemistry. Because organic chemistry comprises approximately one third of the Biological Sciences section of the MCAT typically, there will be many instances on the test where you will be called upon to demonstrate familiarity with the properties and behaviors of various organic functional groups.

Work, Energy, and Power


Periodic Properties

The Chemical Bond

Intermolecular Forces

Functional Groups in Organic Chemistry


Chemical Thermodynamics and the Equilibrium State


Organic molecules derive their reactivity and the physical properties from their functional groups (alkane, alkene, alkyne, allylic form, aromatic form, alcohol, ether, aldehyde, ketone, carboxyl group). To understand reactivity and physical properties associated with a group at a conceptual level, one must begin with the periodic properties of the atoms and the nature of chemical bonds comprising the molecule. Learn to see the behavior of functional groups from the ground up. Important basic concepts at the chemical bonding level include electronegativity, valence, molecular orbital hybridization, and VSEPR.

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