Chemistry is, more often than not, a staple subject for many A-Level students in Singapore. Whether you take H1 or H2 A Level Chemistry, one section that students from both of these realms tend to overlook and underestimate is the perennially tricky Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). The tight time limit, coupled with up to thirteen chapters of content to memorize during the A Level Chemistry MCQ paper, results in students falling short, time and time again. However, with some crucial pointers collated by the top JC tuition centre in Singapore, you will undoubtedly be able to confidently combat your Chemistry-fuelled anxieties!
Content is King
Arguably the most important tip for most JC students is the ability to forge a strong foundation in every chapter of the JC Chemistry syllabus. From Mole Stoichiometry to Electrolysis, the understanding required for such a wide spectrum of content is demanding and rigorous. That’s why, at Zenith, we work hand in hand with students to break down even the most mind-boggling of concepts so as to build gradual stepping stones to success. In fact, MCQ questions that require students to accurately define chemical terminologies and laws may even be the fine line between an A or B grade. Granted, it can be disheartening before you find a solid footing, but regular consultations with your school teachers or Zenith’s trained tutors can help facilitate a seamless understanding of the extensive breadth in content. Another useful method could be to draw mind-maps to link together disparate and complex ideas, highlighting important details and keywords for you to visualize with ease. This encourages you to concisely summarize salient points and consolidate whatever you have learnt neatly, allowing for ease of revision in the future. Since A Level Chemistry is characterized by both its broadness and depth in content, it never hurts to make sure that you have an unshakable content base.
Fig 1: A simple yet efficient mind-map classifying the various amine reactions
With reference to Figure 1, we see the various reactions undergone by an Ethylamine molecule (CH3CH2NH2) neatly branching out as a result of a cleanly organized mind-map. This allows students taking JC Chemistry to funnel their thoughts into a coherent whole and strike out the wrong answers systematically during the national paper 1 MCQ examinations. At a top JC Chemistry tuition centre like Zenith, we make sure to endow upon our JC Chemistry students the skills to construct succinct summaries and flow charts, in order to break down huge chunks of content into simpler and bite-sized nuggets of information.
However, having a solid understanding of your A Level Chemistry concepts is not a surefire route to acing your national exams. The difference between a student who obtains a distinction and his peers lies in the former’s ability to extract key concepts from content learned and then accurately apply them to novel A Level Chemistry questions. That is what we seek to impart at a top Chemistry tuition centre like Zenith: the initiative to take ownership of what you have learnt, all the while critically applying them to even the most confounding of question types. That is why practice is something that cannot be emphasized enough. A student who has put in the required effort to confront different question models always holds a key advantage over another student who simply rote learns. This is especially pertinent for tricky chapters like Acids and Bases, where Cambridge seeks to trick unwitting students with their slippery phrasing of MCQ options. Another challenging topic would be organic chemistry’s structural elucidation questions which have popped up in even the MCQs in recent years. It is paramount that students make the leap from mere content junkies to critically thinking individuals, through asking the right questions and diligently practicing on past year papers and ten-year series.
Fig 2. A modified A Level Question featuring thermodynamics
The above (Fig 2.) accurately highlights why rote learning is not an ideal option for students sitting for their A Level Chemistry papers. At first glance, the question asks the standard enthalpy change for a reaction between two moles of sulfur dioxide and 1 mole of oxygen gas. Any non-critically thinking student would turn to the given sulfur oxidation reactions above and proceed to be dumbfounded; for they do not seem to correlate with what the MCQ question is asking for. The main takeaway here is that through hours and weeks of conscientious practice, students should be better equipped to think out of the box and dissect MCQ questions methodically. The goal should not be to clock in the most amount of hours at the study table, but to better appreciate the intricacies of Chemistry and in turn tackle the questions in an analytical and organized manner.
The A Level Chemistry MCQ is notorious for its extremely tight time limit, where students have to race against the clock to complete 30 MCQ questions in the span of an hour. This is where even the brightest of students fall short, all because of their inability to work with the given time limit. As a result of calculation-heavy topics like thermochemistry or reaction kinetics, students may get stuck with certain questions. Keeping your composure and learning how to move on in such scenarios is key since over-allocating time on one question will inevitably have a domino effect on later parts of your A Level Chemistry paper. Without sufficient time for each question, critical analysis and active content recall would not, as a result, be possible. Therefore, understanding when to move on is crucial. Instead, allow yourself to revisit it later when you have confidently completed the rest of your paper. To needlessly dwell on one question, which offers only a return of one mark (out of the other possible 29), becomes in hindsight, a rather foolish decision! Always ensure that you have at least 5 minutes to double-check to prevent careless mistakes that may arise. Another good practice would be to circle your answers on the question paper and shade them in the optical answer sheet after you’re done to prevent a massive jumble up of answers.
With these pointers in mind, take the plunge towards turning the MCQ portion of the A Level Chemistry Paper into something you can tackle with courage, confidence, and composure! At the start, it will be daunting, filled with hardship and shortfalls, but with consistent practice, you will be able to turn your greatest difficulties into your brightest opportunities. Embrace the above pointers provided to you by the top JC Chemistry tuition centre in Singapore and ace your exams with ease!
We hope you’ve found these A Level Chemistry tips insightful. Click here to be part of Zenith’s JC Chemistry tuition program today!