What is O Levels Chemistry?
O Levels Chemistry is a common subject that students take when they reach secondary 3 level.
O Levels Chemistry Syllabus consist of the following sections:
1. Experimental chemistry - learn how to dry gases and separate mixtures
2. Atomic Structure and Stoichiometry - this is where atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons are discussed in details. Students will also be required to derive chemical fomulae, chemical equations, calculate yield from mole ratio using different formulae
3. Chemistry of Reactions - there are 4 major topics inclusive of electrolysis, chemical energy changes, chemical reactions and acids, bases and salts. This is a content-heavy section as it forms the backbone of O levels Chemistry
4. Periodicity - Here we are introduced to how elements are arranged in the periodic table. Students are expected to study the trends in terms of boiling point, melting point, color intensity and reactivity. Students are also required to study and apply displacement reactions. Other concepts include Metals Reactivity series and extraction.
5, Atmosphere - A relatively easier topic to handle as this is the study of our atmosphere and its pollutants. Students are required to know the source of pollutants and their effects.
6. Organic Chemistry - the last leg of O levels Chemistry and probably one of the most challenging. This topic is content heavy and is usually taught after the mid year exams in secondary 4. As most would rush through the learning due to time constraints, it doesn't help students in any way. This topic encompasses the study of fossil fuels in terms the different factions and their usages. Homologous series of organic compounds are also introduced namely: alkanes, alkenes, alcohols , carboxylic acids and polymers. This is personally one of Mr Terence's favourite topics to teach as he gets to talk about how medicine and plastics are produced.
For more information on O levels Chemistry via the SEAB syallbus -- > https://www.seab.gov.sg/docs/default-source/national-examinations/syllabus/olevel/2022syllabus/6092_y22_sy.pdf
Why is O Levels Chemistry important?
O levels chemistry is one of the essential subjects as it is commonly used as an entry requirement for many polytechnique courses. A good example would be: Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (DARE - S88) from Singapore Polytechnic.
It is also a compulsory O Levels subject to take in Secondary School and used as consideration for entry requirements during the Joint Admission Exercise to Junior Colleges (JAE). See here for more details on the Ministry of Education Website.
Students with a good foundation in O levels Chemistry would also find the knowledge useful in university courses involving pharmateutical, medical, biological sciences and engineering.
Common Challenges faced by O Level Chemistry Students
Content-Heavy Subject that requires a Higher Degree of Rote Memorisation
To put it simply, there is a lot to memorise with lesser logic involved.
For example, students are expected to remember the color of iron (II) hydroxide ppt, which is pale green, but they are not taught of the logic behind the color. This makes it hard to remember as the human brain memorises better when there are connections with logic. The most common way to memorise the colors would simply be to remember them by heart by reading the words over and over again, also known as rote memorisation. Howerver, many students would find this method boring or some could not simply sit down to focus on the required task.
The same applies for the different types of acids reactions, qualitative analysis table, solubility of salts and metals reactivity series. The list goes on as time goes by and students find themselves falling behind in remembering the content that keeps piling up with each new topic.
Mathematical Calculations for Moles and Stoichiometry Problems
O Levels Chemistry involve a certain level of calculation which could take some students by surprise. This is especially challenging for students who are not good in mathematics. Deriving chemical formulae, chemical equations, and solving stoichiometry problems require a certain of mathematical understanding namely, simplest ratio and basic algebra. Students would find this challenging if they are already having issues with O Levels Mathematics.
Structured Questions Often Involve a Combination of Topics
It would not be surprising to find a O level Chemistry structured question involving Acids, Bases, Salts, Moles, Rate of reaction and energy changes. This is because these topics are inter-connected with each other and students are required to recognise the relationships.
Consider the following example, the types of salts produced depends on the reagents which most involve acids with carbonates or metals. This produces salts which may be identified by the color of the ppt when sodium hydroxide or ammonia was added. One can also determine the yield of the salt by finding out the moles given from the mass of the sample. The speed of the reaction can be adjusted by changing the particle size or concentration and such reactions tend to be exothermic.
The challenge from this is recognising that a question can encompass multiple topics. This can be difficult because students are used to learning topic by topic and solving homework problems topic by topic such that it becomes foreign to them when they encounter exam questions with multiple topics.
How Can O levels Chemistry Tuition help?
The main purpose of O Levels Chemistry Tuition would be to help students accelerate their learning process by delivering the knowledge to them in the best way possible. The process can be complicated depending on the learning style of the student. While the tutor may be very well-versed in chemistry, the lesson will not be very useful if it's not taught according to how the student learns best.
At Aspire Thinking, we address the issues directly during every lesson. For every issue a student faces, there is always a solution that can be applied. Here are some examples of what we do:
Personalised Method of Memorisation
Students memorise O Levels Chemistry concepts differently. Some like to use mnemonics while others use cheat sheets or memory cards. To help identify the best way for a student to memorise, we would sit down with the student first to discuss and conclude on the method that works best for him or her. After which, we would train the student to memorise using said method. The student will go home to finish the rest of the work required and it will be reviewed in the next lesson. The tutor will then tweak the method accordingly to help the student better. Progress is closely monitored until the student is more proficient at memorising.
Systematic Approach to Chemical Calculations
Students are trained in an unique 4-step approach to chemical calculations. By following this approach, they can solve virtually any problems relating to moles and stoichiometry. If the student has issues with ratios and algebra, there will be micro-revision on the relevant topics.
Structured Questions Case Study
After a topic is taught, students are given structured questions modeled after school papers. These questions usually involve multiple O Levels Chemistry topics. This way, students are exposed to such questions from the beginning. The tutor will then discuss these questions before students attempt them. During the discussion, the tutor will highlight the important concepts to take note and if the students are unsure, micro-revisions will be made on the spot to refresh the concepts. After which, the students will then attempt the questions. Answers will be marked and students will be aware of their level of understanding.
After a series of O Levels Chemistry questions, students will then be more exposed to the level of difficulty. Once they are used to it, they will be handle similar questions in exams. This method has helped students jumped a few grades in their performance.