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Functional Groups in Organic Chemistry


Future doctors should keep in mind that the primary destination of their organic chemistry knowledge will be to help them understand biochemistry. For the MCAT, as a subject biochemistry is like physiology, in that while the MCAT does not technically say that those courses are prerequesite, the implicit expectation in the exam is for students to be a bit more advanced than the typical first year biology lecture course. Biochemistry passages on the MCAT frequently appear that seem quite advanced, but the questions turn out to be easy, sticking to fundamentals. One helpful organizing principle, as you go through your MCAT preparation, is to be constantly cross-referencing organic chemistry functional groups with the biomolecules that contain them. If you have not taken a biochemistry course, breaking down the wall between your organic chemistry knowledge and the basic biochemistry of the first year course, will go along way towards helping you anticipate the direction the MCAT likes to take in this area. Aldehydes and ketones are centrally important in biochemistry, and a fluent sense of their physical and chemical properties makes biochemistry more concrete and coherent. Carbohydrates are polyhydroxy aldehydes or ketones. Much carbohydrate chemistry is aldehyde and ketone chemistry.

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