SmileTutor Blog Students Exam Tips Preparing for the Paper 3 Practical Exam in O-Level Chemistry

Preparing for the Paper 3 Practical Exam in O-Level Chemistry

In Singapore, the O-Level exam is undoubtedly one of the most crucial certifications for secondary school students. However, because of its importance in their education, preparing for it can be grueling and highly stressful.

This is especially true when it comes to the Chemistry Paper 3 practical exam, which is undoubtedly one of the most challenging subjects a student can tackle. Still, this doesn’t mean you can’t obtain high marks on the exam; you just need to go about it more efficiently.

With that said, in this article, you’ll find the top 5 tips that can help you ace the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam. Check them out below.

1) Be strategic with your approach

Chemistry covers a lot of ground. However, your time to study and prepare is limited as well, so simply studying everything on your syllabus isn’t really a good way to go about it. This is especially true if you’re aiming for high marks on this exam.

Therefore, you need to be more strategic with your study sessions and avoid just trying to absorb everything you discussed in class. Instead, you can determine what to cover and prioritize your time and resources by checking your syllabus.

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Your syllabus can give you a clue as to what topics will be covered on the exam. For example, if you see entropy come up more often than enthalpy, this can suggest that you can find the former more on the exam than the latter.

If so, it would be wiser to spend more time understanding entropy than enthalpy. Moreover, it’s ideal if you don’t simply memorize concepts and formulas. You should also ensure that you really understand them to ensure you can be more confident about your answers during the exam itself.

2) Practice, practice, practice

You know how they always say, practice makes perfect? Well, practice might not necessarily result in perfection, but it’s definitely something you can use to prepare. This is because continuously practicing your knowledge of Chemistry will help you understand the ins and outs of the various concepts in the subject.

By doing so, you can easily identify the fundamental concepts of Chemistry, even when they change how the information is presented to you. Then, whether it’s simply or in a more complex manner, you can easily answer the questions if you have a deep understanding of the core concepts.

Once you have read and observed the syllabus, not once, not twice, but at least three times, take one final look and this time around, mark the concepts that you think will appear the most in the exam.

Once you have done this, customize your study habits to spend more time on these concepts. Take note that this doesn’t mean that you should abandon the other ideas.

You only have to spend relatively more time on the concepts you think would appear more on the exam.

Use your observations as the basis for answers

Theoretical knowledge can be a good starting point for answers but don’t just rely on that knowledge during the exam. One of the best ways to ensure that your responses are as close to the actual answer as possible is by basing them on what you’ve observed.

This is crucial because, in the exam, you’ll be tested not just on what you know but also on how you apply that knowledge in a practical, real-life setting.

For example, suppose you were to heat up substances containing aluminum and sodium hydroxide. In that case, it’s best not to just assume that the gas it gives off is ammonia. After all, it can also be hydrogen.

To ensure your answers are accurate, base them on your observations. Of course, this would also mean that you need to observe everything carefully.

3) Be as precise as possible with your words

Another tip you can find helpful for the exam is to be as clear as possible when answering the questions. This means using language that is as accurate as possible, leaving little to no room for other interpretations.

This is because some words can be interpreted differently in the context of Chemistry. For example, when describing an essentially colorless solution, it’s best to use colourless rather than clear to describe it.

Colourless is considered better and more precise because, in Chemistry, clear just indicates that you can see through the solution and doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of color.

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Because of this, it’s best to be as precise with your language as possible when making observations and descriptions.

Repetition, repetition, and repetition

In almost any field, be it sports, music, or academics, constant practice undoubtedly improves performance. This works for the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam as well. It is not enough that you know all of the formulas and concepts.

You also have to read, reread, and solve the formulas over and over. This way, you not only get the hang of it more, but you get more confidence as well. This may sound simple, but it does go a long way.

Prepare all your essentials

During the exam, make sure that you have everything prepared. Not only does this help put your mind at ease, but it also avoids the risk of panicking during the exam because you forgot to prepare something essential.

The most common requirements for this exam include pencils, pens, calculators, rulers, to name a few.

Have an extra pair of batteries for your calculator and have extras of everything. A sheet of paper or two might come in handy as well. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

When in doubt, ask for assistance

During the exam, there may be questions wherein you may have some confusion. Do not hesitate to ask the invigilators for assistance as they’ll be happy to help you in any way they can.

Some students get embarrassed and end up second-guessing the questions, instructions, or whatever they are confused for. Better be clear than coming up with an answer you are unsure of.

4) Strive to answer every question

The Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam has a total final score of 40. Moreover, what you get on this exam will constitute around 20% of your final Chemistry grade. Therefore, it’s best if you try to answer all the questions and avoid skipping anything.

By doing so, you have increased the chance of scoring on the exam. After all, you have around an hour and 50 minutes to finish it, so maximize that time and answer as many questions as you can.

5) Be early

Lastly, be early at the exam site to give you more time to prepare. It gives you enough buffer time to account for any last-minute disturbances and distractions. For example, you might have an upset stomach when you arrive or forget to bring a calculator.

It also gives you a good feel of the exam site. It gives you time to relax and get a feel for the environment so you can be comfortable during the exam.


There are plenty of reputable institutions with top-tier educators who can also help you in your academic journey. We hope that these tips will help you in your endeavor of taking the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam. Good luck!

Exams can be nerve-wracking. Luckily, we got the following resources to help you:

How to Stop Overthinking During Your Exam Period
How to Burn Midnight Oil Effectively to Study for Your Exams

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.