10 min read
Organic chemistry is one of the toughest classes in college, but with a little online help you can master the subject. Here we’ve collected the most popular ochem tutor websites and YouTube channels, and separated them by what they do best. Some have free subject lessons, others offer 1:1 tutoring, and some offer paid downloads for practice exams and cheat sheets.
One big struggle of new Ochem students is drawing the molecules quickly but neatly. An organic chemistry stencil can be a huge help. We made one that also includes the names of each molecule, equations you need to know, and physical constants for calculations all laser-engraved. It’s only $12.50 and can save you a ton of time - your TA will love grading your immaculate homework compared to the chicken scratch from everyone else!
Let’s start with hard data. We used a special tool to measure traffic to orgo tutoring websites on the first two pages of Google. We excluded tutor-connecting sites like Varsity Tutors. The graphic below shows that the top 3 sites get about 85% of all traffic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find great value that matches your learning style with the smaller or newer sites.
New vs. established? The fastest-growing sites in the last 6 months are shown below. The upper left quadrant shows the fastest-growing small sites, while the lower left quadrant shows small sites that are not showing much growth.
The top 3 sites anchor the right side with modest changes in traffic over time. ChemistryHall.com is more of a chemistry blog, OrganicChemExplained.com only has a few Orgo posts, and ChemDoodle.com is a great tool for drawing molecules.
With more than 50% of all worldwide traffic, masterorganicchemistry.com takes the cake as the most popular ochem website. It’s easy to see why. James Ashenhurst has a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and has been building out this massive library since 2011. The site is completely comprehensive while still being clean, well-organized and snappy fast to load and navigate.
James’ tutoring site specializes in downloadable and printable study guides and flash cards. “MOC” also has a 180+ library of reaction mechanisms mapped out and 400+ topic-specific blog posts explained with natural-language commentary that’s refreshing compared to textbooks like this Fischer Esterification guide (sample shown below).
The depth to which James covers each topic is unreal. This page on conformations of cyclohexane is just one of hundreds and even cites literature for anyone who wants to go beyond normal coursework. MOC has great free downloadable sample materials to get you started in both semesters of O-chem and get a feel for the style, but you’ll want to buy into the extremely affordable membership ($10/mo) to get his top-tier study guides and practice tests. He also hosts a YouTube channel with 35k subscribers with 14+ playlists separated by topic.
Free stuff on MOC:
Paid stuff on MOC:
Full membership is $10/mo and includes:
Chemistry Steps has recently grown into the #2 most-visited organic chemistry site and has a similarly clean, straightforward explanation style to MOC above. Gevorg Sargsyan is a Ph.D. Organic Chemistry faculty who’s studied in 3 countries and now teaches in Texas. Chemistry Steps’ main advantage is having an interactive practice problems interface that lets you see hints, flag questions to come back to, and reveal answers after you guess.
The 1000+ practice problems are available for free, but you’ll need to get the membership ($39/mo or $79 for 4 months) to have access to the answers and hints in the interactive format. Gevorg also includes extensive explanations of every mechanism and topic for free like this Wittig Reaction article.
Free stuff on Chemistry Steps:
Full membership is $39/mo or $79 for 4 months ($20/mo) and includes:
With 10% of total traffic, Leah4Sci is another powerhouse website in Organic Chemistry. Leah has a different background than the two tutors above: she served in the U.S. Navy as an emergency medical technician including a year in the Middle East, all while getting her dual degree in Chemistry and Biology. Although she has less website traffic, Leah has the strongest YouTube channel of these three with nearly 200k subscribers.
Leah’s site focuses more on video content where she hand-draws and narrates the reactions like this video series on EAS mechanisms. The videos are hosted on YouTube so you can speed up playback and jump around easily.
She’s also the only top 3 site to offer personal 1:1 tutoring online. There are less expensive options out there (her rate is $175/hr) but you know you’re getting time with someone who’s truly an expert at teaching the material and can integrate your sessions with her supporting material.
If that’s outside your budget, she also hosts live 1-hr topic-specific “Study Halls” the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month for $79/month, which also buys you the entire Study Hall recording library, practice quiz/exam videos and access to a private Facebook group of students helping each other throughout the semester.
Free stuff on Leah4Sci:
Paid stuff on Leah4Sci:
On a final note, Leah’s site is one of the only that adds ACS Exam prep and MCAT prep, which extends into Physics, Biology and Biochemistry. If you’re a pre-med student, this is where you can find everything you need in one place.
For students who prefer video content, YouTube hosts a huge collection of organic chem help videos with new creators jumping into the space every year. Don’t miss the comments sections which can include helpful explanations for common hang-ups in the lessons. Just make sure you still do plenty of homework practice problems from other sources - you can’t master organic chemistry just by passively watching videos!
With 5 MILLION subscribers, by far the most popular YouTube channel for organic chem help is The Organic Chemistry Tutor. Julio Gonzales is the creator behind this channel and has recently added more content in Physics, Math, and Biology while also publishing his first e-book on STEM learning strategies in 2021.
The only way you get to 5M subscribers is by being really freakin’ good at teaching. His blackboard-style hand-drawn explanations feel like you’re sitting in a TA teaching session that you can speed up and rewind. The comments can also be useful for common questions and alternative explanation styles.
Julio added a membership option for $20/month that gives access to 30 additional organic chem teaching videos, or longer versions of videos, through his YouTube playlists. The best place to start is his Organic Chemistry playlist but you can also brush up on AP & General Chemistry from his other playlists.
Free stuff on The Organic Chemistry Tutor YouTube Channel:
Paid stuff on The Organic Chemistry Tutor YouTube Channel:
Khan Academy is well-regarded in college education circles and their Organic Chemistry playlist on YouTube includes 70 videos with over 4 million views. Sal Khan personally teaches most of these videos using his classic hand-written virtual blackboard style. Khan Academy is a non-profit and all of these videos are free to watch. You can use their website to watch for better organization by topic. It’s straightforward, free, and illustrates exactly what you need to know for class.
Professor Dave teaches several subjects on YouTube but his Organic Chemistry playlist has 114 videos racking up almost 2 million views! He often gets in front of the camera and uses a real whiteboard like you’re in class, but also keeps a lighthearted style. Being in front of the camera also gives him an advantage of using 3D molecular models when explaining concepts like Newman Projections.
Prof. Dave’s newest videos switch to an animated style for reaction-heavy mechanisms.
He also has one of the only playlists on Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry. All of his videos are available for free and he keeps them broken up into short, digestible segments.
You may have come across Crash Course videos for other subjects already. Their videos stand out with higher-quality animations that include more history and real-world applications around each topic that might keep it more engaging and help it stick. Their Organic Chemistry playlist has 51 videos with nearly 2 million views.
Best of all, all the videos are free! Crash Course also has a companion app to get your o-chem content on your phone. As a bonus, they even include more advanced videos on spectroscopy, biological polymers and medicinal chemistry.
Sometimes you're just still stuck and a 1:1 tutor can help pull you through. Here are some great options for private organic chemistry tutoring online, ranging from $15-$200/hr:
If you’re planning on taking the ACS (American Chemical Society) Organic Chemistry Exam at the end of your semester (often used by professors as your standardized final), you might want some more specific study materials to be prepared. The resources above will get you in great shape already, but there are a few more places to look for ACS-specific preparation:
The MCAT is only 3-5% Organic Chemistry and that only covers introductory material. You don’t need to review the full two-semester course for your MCAT prep. Here are the best places to get ready:
Less-experienced organic chemistry tutors are about $40-$60/hr. The top-tier tutors who have a decade-plus of experience and comprehensive study guides often charge $150-$200/hr. Self-directed learning courses are listed above that run from $10-$40/month.
Practice problems are key! The best websites for practice are MasterOrganicChemistry.com, Chemistrysteps.com and Leah4Sci.com. The best YouTube Channels for learning are The Organic Chemistry Tutor, Crash Course, Professor Dave Explains and Khan Academy.
A good molecule stencil can be a huge help to save you time on your homework and make your TA's love grading it! Luckily, we have one below with all the stencils you'll need AND it's a pocket ruler loaded with unit conversions and physical constants.
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