Why Does Organic Chemistry Have Such Low Exam Averages

If you are currently taking organic chemistry, or perhaps have heard from a friend or fellow student who has already taken the course, you likely heard something to the effect of “Organic Chemistry Averages Are Really Low”. Don’t let this idea scare you. Instead, try to understand why the averages are so low, and then see how you can be the student who is ‘above average’

These specific exams are designed to be difficult. It’s not a trick or a secret, it is simply the way it has to be. This is due to a number of reasons

The Average College Student Is NOT Used To Thinking
Don’t laugh, I’m not kidding. As an orgo tutor I have noticed this trend among hundreds of students from the community college level all the way through the Ivy Leagues. The average ‘good’ student is used to learning a concept, memorizing a formula, and attempting to plug the data into this formula

Enter organic chemistry, and this method flies right out the window. There is no simple formula that you can follow. And there definitely won’t be a step by step equation you can plug in. Since your exam will require you to apply concepts you have learned to tricky questions you have never seen, you will undoubtedly be caught off guard

If The Exams Were Easy You Wouldn’t Study As Hard And Soon Fall Behind
Sad but true. Your professors are actually doing you a favor by giving you difficult exams. If you anticipate an easy exam you will not study as hard. When you do not put your full efforts into your studies you will not remember the details as clearly. If you do not have a very thorough comprehension of the beginner concepts you will have an impossible time attempting to learn and understand reactions down the line

This Material Is Just Plain Difficult
Yup, you probably didn’t want to hear this one, but it’s true. Organic chemistry is a giant puzzle that takes careful analysis, many hours of study and lots of practice. Most students simply don’t have the time, effort, or dedication to devote what is needed to the difficultly level of this course. And so when exams roll around they do not fully understand the questions. Missing a point here and there results in a low grade

With this level of difficulty you will have an extreme range of grades. I’ve seen scores as low as single digits, to the level of 80’s and 90’s. Where you score on the other hand is entirely up to you. This information is meant to arm you, not scare you