Chemistry is an important part of A-levels in Singapore because it is essential to medical and science-related courses when a student reaches university. Having a top grade on the subject is also crucial because it is regarded with high value by universities in the country.
However, the subject is very difficult considering the formulas, terminologies, and facts involved in the subject. As a result, some students may find it difficult to prepare for the class and get an A for their papers and test results.
Fortunately, Singapore has a lot of A-level tuition centers that offer Chemistry tuition for students hoping to prepare for their Chemistry classes. There are also tutors who are offering dedicated JC tuition and they can do their lessons at the student’s home.
If you are getting a Chemistry tuition from a tutor, here are some other tips you can use to boost your chances of getting that elusive A.
Understand the subject
First and foremost, you need to understand the subject itself as soon as your first lesson is done. If you do not take time to do so, your revisions for exam day would be difficult to improve.
Even if you have notes on the subject, you may not be able to apply what you understand about the topic if you just memorize it and not understand the definitions and examples provided in class.
You can try explaining your lessons to your tutor and get them to provide their own explanation to the question. Your tutor can even point out the weakness of your understanding and help you review your lessons for further understanding.
Consult the specification
Teachers in A-Levels are often given a specification or a document which lists what the teacher should cover for their lessons and what the students must learn. These documents are often very thick, but it lists the content and learning objectives of each lesson.
Normally, teachers will ensure that you cover everything listed in the specification for your exams and it is always done in order. If you want to get an idea of which lessons you should study with your tutor, you can write the learning objectives listed by your teacher for each subject as a guide for your review.
Become an independent learner
The phrase “independent learner” is becoming a popular buzz phrase in Singapore and simply put, it means it is the student’s responsibility to study on their own and learn without being forced by their teachers or parents.
Students studying in universities are considered as independent learners because they go to their lectures on their own time and still do their studies. If they do not pass their assignments and coursework, they will get a failing grade and flunk out. It is also notable that teachers and parents do not monitor their work, so it is up to the student to determine if they will succeed or fail in their classes.
If you apply this thinking while you are doing your A-Levels, most of your time will be dedicated to your notes, reading and testing yourself with test exams. Applying yourself fully to your studies may mean lesser time for fun, but when you graduate and get the job you want, you will not regret that sacrifice.
Test your understanding
When you have a clear idea of the topic and feel that you understand it, try testing yourself by doing the end of the topic questions written at the end of your textbook’s chapter or in revision guides your tutor gives you. Ask your tutor to check your answers and if you get something wrong, study the question and learn how you can get the right answer.
As an alternative to answering topic questions from your textbook, you can also check online quizzes, apps, and exercises available online for chemistry students. Most of these online tests are free and they even provide an explanation of how an answer was achieved after the test if you made a mistake.
There are many ways to revise your notes and understanding of a topic. For chemistry, you can apply the Reduction-Explosion revision method.
Reduction: You simply your notes or diagrams into major points which you need to learn. Once you understood the points, try reducing it again into keywords which you can memorize and recall during your tests.
Explosion: Once you reduced your notes to keywords, try branching out the keywords and recreate the lesson. You can use a spider diagram to connect concepts and terms together.
To check if you are making progress with your revisions, you can make a table where the topic checklist is listed in one side while there are columns listing if you are confident you know the topic or not. You can even use symbols to show your progress with revisions for various topics.
You also need to list down a revision timetable which lists your targets for revision.
Practice past papers
Finally, to get used to the exams for A-Levels, it is ideal you try tackling your understanding of the subject by answering past test or paper questions at each topic.
Checking old test questions and answering them gives you an idea of how difficult the exam questions will be and see how tricky they could be written. If you manage to answer these tricky questions, it gives you the confidence that you are becoming prepared for your exams.
When you do answer these questions, ask your tutor to mark it for you based on the official mark scheme. If you scored low on the question, check the explanation and review once more. As you continue to do the old exams, you will notice a trend on how the exams should be answered to get the right marks.
Of course, when you do test yourself with these past papers, you should time yourself accordingly to see if you can improve your exam performance.
If you are taking your A-levels for Chemistry, you have to put to mind that there are no shortcuts in getting that desired grade you want for the subject. You need to have the dedication and do lots of practice to get that grade because if A’s were easy to get, there’s no satisfaction to it. If you worked hard for the grade and prepared for it accordingly, it drives you further and gives you confidence.
So, don’t slack off and hit the books today!
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