Exam day is always a very stressful day for many students, especially those taking their A-levels in Singapore. Chemistry, for instance, is a dreaded subject because the exam questions can be very confusing. If you do not prepare for it properly, the tests can catch you off-guard and cause you to forget what you learned.
For those who cannot prepare on their own, they can join up one of Singapore’s A-level tuition schools which offer special Chemistry tuition or seek the assistance of a tutor offering Chemistry tuition. The school or the tutor would then prepare a specialized lesson plan that would get a student exam-ready easily.
When you have done your preparations for your exams with A-level tuition, here are eight techniques you can use to maximize what you learned and prepare for during your Singapore A-Level Chemistry exam:
Before you start answering your exam, do the following:
• Scan the entire paper and look for the questions you can easily answer. When you find one, answer them first.
• Also look for the questions which can give you ‘easy’ points so you don’t miss them when you focus your attention on the harder questions.
• When you finish doing the easy questions, use the time you still have for the exam to answer the tougher questions.
Approaching Individual questions
Now that you narrowed down the harder questions, here are some things to remember before you start answering it:
• Read the entire question first because you may miss critical keywords that would influence how you answer the question. The entire question may even give you hints on how you should answer one part of the question.
• When reading the question, check for command words or verbs which would tell you what type of answer is being asked.
• Don’t stay too long in one part of the question. Leave it and try doing it again later. When you get back to it, read the question again because you may have missed a part which caused you to have problems with the question.
• Don’t spend a lot of time on calculations for multiple choice questions because it will only get you a 1-point mark. You can focus on your calculations for those that can get you 2 points or more. If you have extra time, you can go back to these computations later.
• Some hints can be found in multiple choice questions that come with calculations so make sure you read it carefully.
• Check how much points you can garner in each section and use it as a guide on how much you should answer.
• Don’t go overboard with the information you write down. If you think you already got the points necessary to get the points, but you feel like there’s something wrong with one point, leave it out. You may lose your points if the examiner sees something wrong.
Command Verbs (Keywords)
These keywords give you an idea on what answer is being asked by the examiners. Here are some examples of command verbs you may see in your tests:
• Describe… This asks you to explain what you see in the graph, reaction or data without having to go into full detail.
• State… This asks you to define or explain a relationship without giving unnecessary information.
• Explain… This asks you to describe what is happening in the scenario given and why it occurred. This may involve explaining chemical and biological principles.
• Evaluate… For this part, you need to show both sides of the argument provided.
• Economic or Industrial … When you see this, it asks examinees to show the significance of the process, reaction and others to these sectors. You must also add references to support your answer.
When the question asks you to “write an equation”, it may be asking for an unfamiliar equation or an equation you may have forgotten. When this occurs, do not panic! Using your background chemical knowledge and what is given in the question, try figuring out what may occur as noted in the question.
Adding Chemical Equations
Chemical equations are similar to algebra so you only need to write the equation that would reach a specific reaction or the equation for the entire process.
You simply have to add equations together like algebraic equations then cancel anything that appears on both sides to simplify it. Just make sure you check the numbers before you cancel out similar equations.
With half equations, you will get two equilibrium reactions and one must be reversed to get the proper reaction. Make sure you put all of the factors together in your combined equation and make sure they are in their right order.
Read the questions first before you go do your computations. The question may include all the things you need to solve the problem.
For example, if you are given the concentration and the volume of a solution, you can easily compute the total amount of moles of reactants or the product, then just use the right equation to solve the missing elements.
When doing the conversions, remember which units are smaller and larger and multiply by 1000 if you are trying to convert to larger units. If you are trying to convert from larger units to smaller units, you simply divide by 1,000.
However, this rule is not applicable to centimeter because there is 10mm in a centimeter and 1 m has 100 cm.
If you are able to remember all the conversions, you can write a table on your test paper before the exam starts so you don’t have to rely on your memory throughout the test.
Units in Calculation
If you come across any question that requires you to use the gas equation, PV=nRT, you must remember that the P here is Pa. The data that is usually given in tests is either in kPa or MPa so you need to convert it first. K can be computed by multiplying 103 while M can be converted by multiplying it to 106.
If the question entails the Standard Enthalpy of Combustion, Ionization, Formation and all the others, it always concerns to 1 mole of substance while under standard conditions.
It is important to remember that when you take an exam, you should not rush to get it over with because your grade is at stake. If you rushed it, you may miss critical points that can reduce your chances of getting a good grade. When you take it easy and relax, you will be able to analyze the questions thoroughly and answer as best as you can.
Remember: Chemistry requires precision because one wrong equation or formula can cause a violent reaction.
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