It is very important to understand the position of alcohols within the redox spectrum. Primary alcohols may be oxidized either to an aldehyde or a carboxylic acid. Secondary alcohols are oxidized to ketones. The MCAT may definitely include a bench-top oxidizing agent in a passage with the expectation that you would recognize it as an oxidizing agent. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) and chromic acid (H2CrO4) oxidize primary alcohols all the way to carboxylic acids. Certain Cr(VI) species in anhydrous media, however, (Collins reagent, PCC, and PDC) are weaker oxidizing agents and can be used to oxidize alcohols to aldehydes.

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