Modern Physics

Understand what blackbody radiation is and be able to describe the significance of Planck's solution to the problem of how to interpret blackbody radiation curves versus classical theory.

Be able to describe the relationship between the frequency of electromagnetic waves and photon energy and feel comfortable applying the quantization of light energy to interpreting a range of phenomena such as atomic emission spectra or the photoelectric effect.

Be ready to solve problems involving the basic apparatus for demonstrating the photoelectric effect and interpret results to determine the work function.

Possess a basic familiarity with the Compton effect so that you would be able to navigate a passage dealing with it.

Learn the basic apparati, mechanisms and conclusions of the most significant experiments of early modern Atomic Theory including J.J. Thomson's cathode ray experiment, Millikin's oil drop experiement, and Rutherford's experiment with gold foil and alpha rays.

Be able to verbally reproduce the reasoning from evidence that led to Bohr's model of the hydrogen atom.

Master the basic description of the electronic structure of the atom in modern quantum theory in terms. Picture the orbitals of an atom. Understand how to use quantum numbers to describe them, the Pauli exclusion principle, the aufbau principle and Hund's rule.

Understand the significance of De Broglie's extension of particle-wave duality from photons to include all forms of matter and have a basic sense of the concept of wave function collapse in the context of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Nuclear Physics

Understand the basic nomenclature for describing atomic nuclei, ie. atomic number, neutron number and mass number. Understand the differences between isotopes of an element.

Be able to use the concepts of nuclear binding energy and nuclear barrier to narrate the interplay of strong nuclear force and electrostatic force for subatomic particles at very short distances.

Have a basic sense of the concept of nuclear spin and understand the relevance of Larmor precessional frequency to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

Possess a good familiarity with each of the major types of nuclear decay, alpha, beta, and gamma, and variations thereof.

Understand what is meant by the island of stability and be able to predict what types of decay might occur for isotopes falling outside of this range.

Know how to solve simple quantitative problems involving activity and half-life of nuclear reactions.

Be prepared to narrate the natural events and underlying physics that make carbon dating possible.

Know how to apply mass-energy equivalence to solving simple problems involving nuclear reactions.

Be able to distinguish nuclear fusion and fission.

Understand why nuclear fusion only can occur at extremely high temperature.

Be able to narrate the chain reaction fission of U235. Understand the purposes of the major components of a nuclear reactor such as the control rods and moderator.

Atomic Theory

Learn the basic apparati, mechanisms and conclusions of the most significant experiments of early modern Atomic Theory including J.J. Thomson's cathode ray experiment, Millikin's oil drop experiment, and Rutherford's experiment with gold foil and alpha rays.

Understand the consequences of Planck's experiment with black body radiation.

Be able to verbally reproduce the reasoning from evidence that led to Bohr's model of the hydrogen atom.

Master the basic description of the electronic structure of the atom in modern quantum theory in terms. Picture the orbitals of an atom. Understand how to use quantum numbers to describe them, the Pauli exclusion principle, the aufbau principle and Hund's rule.

Periodic Properties

Understand the rationale behind the organization of the periodic table and how the organization of the table relates to electronic structure.

Be able to define atomic radius and predict the relative sizes of atoms from their position on the periodic table.

Model the events described by electron affinity as well as ionization energy in your imagination. Understand the patterns of change in the energy involved for these events moving from left-to-right and up-and-down across the periodic table.

Clearly comprehend the context and meaning of electronegativity and how it changes across the periodic table.

Have a good handle on the respective chemical characteristics of alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, the oxygen group, halogens, and noble gases.

Be sure to have memorized the values of the electronegativities of the important elements of organic chemistry including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and the halogens (and some of the alkali metals and sulfur and phosphorus too).

The Chemical Bond

Be able to distinguish the differences between ionic bonding, covalent bonding, and metallic bonding.

Understand the forces involved and the story of energy in covalent bond formation. Be able to answer questions like: What holds the bonded atoms together? What happens to electrostatic potential energy when a bond is formed?

Master the traditional valence approach for basic problem solving including the octet rule, drawing Lewis structures, and assigning formal charge.

Develop at least introductory level comfort with molecular orbital theory.

Be prepared to comfortably discuss the concepts of molecular orbital hybridization especially as they relate to molecular geometry in organic chemistry, bond energy and rigidity in molecular structure.

Understand resonance and how to predict the contribution of resonance structures in molecular forms.

Gain facility in applying valence shell electron pair repulsion theory (VSEPR) to predict molecular geometries.

Differentiate polar and nonpolar covalent bonds. Be able to recognize the polar and nonpolar covalent bonds in a structural formula.

Understand how to describe a bond dipole moment and a molecular dipole moment.

Intermolecular Forces

Be sure you can comfortably characterize the three kinds of intermolecular force.

Develop the skill to predict the type of intermolecular force which will predominate within a substance if presented with the structural form of a molecule.

Understand the role played by intermolecular force in determining the physical properties of a substance and its solubility in various solvents.

Organic Functional Groups

Be prepared to identify the major organic functional groups.

Understand the affect of a particular functional group on the physical properties and solubility of an organic compound.

Become familiar with the acid-base properties of various functional groups.

Begin consolidating mastery of the organic mechanisms. Be familiar with the major types of reaction each functional group can undergo, able to easily answer the simpler genre of questions at this stage.


Understand the factors making the staggered conformation of ethane more stable than the eclipsed conformation.

Be able to recreate the potential energy diagram for internal rotation around the central carbon-carbon bond in butane, and be capable of differentiating the two staggered conformations of butane, gauche and anti.

Understand the potential energy diagram for the various conformations of cyclohexane: chair, half-chair, skew boat, and boat and grasp the conformational analysis of mono- and di-substitution of cyclohexane.

Understand the distinctions between the various kinds of molecular isomerism beginning with geometric isomerism, stereoisomerism and the distinctions within these categories.

Be able to correctly determine whether two stereoisomers are enantiomers or diastereomers, and be aware of what it means for a molecule to be a meso form.

Understand the basics of the different systems of stereochemical nomenclature used in organic chemistry and biochemistry including R/S, E/Z and D/L.

Learn how to solve problems with molecules having multiple chiral centers such as predicting the number of stereoisomers and recognizing which are enantiomers.

Be able to predict which reactions produce racemic mixtures, for example, and be able to discuss laboratory techniques involving resolution of enantiomers.

Conjugation and Aromaticity

Understand the role of resonance in promoting the stability of conjugated and aromatic systems.

Be able to recall the conditions for aromaticity including Hückel's Rule.

Know how to determine whether or not a polycyclic or heterocyclic compound as well as a cyclic ion is aromatic from the structural formula. Be able to recognize the most prominent heterocyclic aromatic compounds such as furan, imidazole, pyridine, or pyrolle.

Understand the basis of Hückel's Rule by means of the model of benzene given by molecular orbital theory.

Be able to describe from a molecular orbital theory perspective why the absorption spectrum of conjugated systems shifts to longer wavelength compared to unconjugated systems.

Molecular Spectroscopy

Understand the mechanism of IR spectroscopy in the vibrational excitation of covalently bonded atoms and groups by electromagnetic radiation in the infrared portion of the spectrum.

Be familiar with the meaning of reciprocal centimeters (cm-1) on an IR spectrograph.

Be able to predict how changes in the strength of a bond or the mass of bonded atoms would alter the frequency of absorption in IR spectroscopy.

Be familiar with the fingerprint and group frequency regions of an IR spectrograph and be able to recognize the half dozen most prominent types of stretching vibrations in the group frequency region by frequency.

Understand how an external magnetic field promotes different spin states for a nucleus with a net magnetic moment.

Understand how the location of different nmr resonance signals depends on both the external magnetic field strength and the rf frequency in the context of shielding by extranuclear electrons. Understand what it means to refer to chemical shift in units of ppm.

Be able to use the electronegativities of bonded atoms to judge the extent of deshielding in proton NMR, and recall that pi electron systems can effect chemical shift by supporting or opposing the external field.

Know how to interpret structural information from the signal splitting resulting from spin-spin interactions in proton NMR.

For UV spectroscopy, understand the electronic mechanism of absorption of electromagnetic radition in the context of molecular orbital theory and comprehend the role of conjugation in shifting absorption maxima toward longer wavelength.

For mass spectroscopy, you should be able to describe the basic mechanism of ionization, ion sorting under a magnetic field, and detection.

In interpreting a mass spectrum understand what is meant by the base peak (sometimes but not always the molecular ion).

Understand the distinction between even-electron ions and odd-electron ions and have a reasonable understanding of fragmentation patterns in mass spectroscopy.

Bird's Eye View

Be able to reproduce the topical outline of biochemistry and biology.

Understand the general scope of the subject matter described within each main topic of biochemistry and biology.

Be able to describe in basic terms the physical properties and reactivity alcohols, aldehydes & ketones, and carboxylic acid derivatives.

Knowledge Mapping

Understand that while classical physics can build your intuition for general chemistry, quantum electrodynamics provides a fuller picture explaining phenomena not predicted by a classical model.

Be able to describe changes in electrostatic potential energy within a single atom, between atoms within a chemical bond, and molecules interacting through intermolecular force. Understand how the concept of binding energy describes changes that may occur at each of these levels of the structure of matter.

Through an understanding of changes in energy during covalent bond formation, be able to explain why the graph of the electronegativities of the elements agrees with their reduction potentials.

Be able to describe the stability of conformational isomers in terms of electrostatic potential energy.

Psychology & Sociology

Critical Analysis and Reasoning

Remember the five main types of Verbal Reasoning questions. Main Idea Author's Tone Thematic Extension Specific Inference Facts & Information