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Organic Acids and Bases

The acid-base behavior of various organic substances is an important theme. In many cases, the acidity or basicity of a certain species is an important factor in its reactivity. The slight acidity of primary alkynes, for example, enables their employment as nucleophiles in certain reactions of importance in organic synthesis. Furthermore, the acidity or basicity or certain functional groups, especially the acidity of the carboxyl group and the basicity of the amine group, are crucially important in biochemistry.

The MCAT likes to use the specific detailed knowledge in this area as a good index of overall student mastery of organic chemistry, so in addition to the basics, the MCAT may ask if you know about the special acidity of phenol or if you understand the behavior of the acidic alpha proton in keto-enol tautomerism. Questions regarding substituent effects on acidity or basicity are fairly common as well. From a test-writer's perspective, for a student to be able to judge the effect of a near substituent on acidity or basicity is a good index of their overall conceptual understanding of organic chemistry.

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