Topic 20: Organic chemistry - 20.2 Synthetic routes

Nature of science: Scientific method-in synthetic design, the thinking process of the organic chemist is one which invokes retro-synthesis and the ability to think in a reverse-like manner. (1.3)


Essential idea: Organic synthesis is the systematic preparation of a compound from a widely available starting material or the synthesis of a compound via a synthetic route that often can involve a series of different steps.

The synthesis of an organic compound stems from a readily available starting material via a series of discrete steps. Functional group interconversions are the basis of such synthetic routes.

Retro-synthesis of organic compounds.

Applications and skills

Deduction of multi-step synthetic routes given starting reagents and the product(s).


Conversions with more than four stages will not be assessed in synthetic routes.

Reaction types can cover any of the reactions covered in topic 10 and sub-topic 20.1