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Functional Groups in Organic Chemistry

Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones

Reactions of aldehydes and ketones are one of the largest and most important groups for the MCAT. To help make their mechanisms more coherent and keep them organized, it helps to remember that most reactions of aldehydes and ketones belong to one of two classes, those involving nucleophilic attack on the carbonyl carbon and those involving electrophilic attack on the α carbon. (aldol condensation is in both groups). The reactions of aldehydes and ketones include, reduction, oxidation, reaction with Grignard reagents, acetal formation, cyanohydrin formation, reaction with amines (including reductive amination), the Wolff-Kishner reaction, the Wittig reaction, the Cannizzaro reaction, acid and base catalyzed enol formation, alpha halogenation of aldehydes and ketones, haloform reaction of methyl ketones, aldol condensation, Claisen condensation, conjugate nucleophilic addition, and conjugate addition of Gilman reagents.

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