15th February 2018

How to improve in JC H2 Chem – Part 1

How to improve JC H2 Chem

Many parents often ask me, “How to improve his/her JC H2 Chem?”

This question is usually asked by frustrated/hapless parents.

Typical scenario is that the student has studied hard but doesn’t seem to make any improvement. To which a slight probe will most likely reveal that the method of studying basically involves reading the lecture notes.

Over and over.

Interestingly, students sometimes don’t understand what they are reading. But if they don’t understand it, why do they keep reading it?

The fallacy here is that reading something over and over again will help them understand the concept. #fakenews

Reading might help if the concept is explained thoroughly in the notes, with the context, linking from their previous O level knowledge. However, a couple of restrictions hinders the typical lecture notes from being easily understood by the student.

Challenges facing the typical JC H2 Chem student

First, students usually have to fill in blanks in their lecture notes. This takes place concurrently with the lecturer trying to explain new concepts. Most students aren’t too good at multi-tasking. Usually, they choose to focus on filling in all the blanks to revise later. Except that they don’t comprehend what they wrote in the first place! Not leaving blanks for students? Tried that before, lecture theater is nice cosy place to take a nap 🙂

Secondly, lecture notes are meant to be concise and not read like a story. For example, a formula that needs to be applied might just be listed but not derived from first principles. The derivation process helps the student understand how the formula comes about and how to apply it. But instead, the limited space in the notes is used for worked examples.

Thirdly, every subject at A levels has total recommended hours. For the amount of syllabus to be covered, the time given is barely sufficient. Which means that if students didn’t listen AND understand in lecture, they most likely wouldn’t be able to do their tutorials. Which means that they most likely will be doing a second round of copying of worked solutions. Finally when the term has ended, they realised they are left with the unenviable task of reading all their notes and suddenly being able to understand everything. 

Fourth, the number of assessment books catering to the A level student isn’t exactly a lot. It is harder to find practise questions with worked solutions like the O levels. A level concepts are not easily explained in a normal size assessment book.

Lastly, even if they are able to understand everything, there’s another hurdle. Answering exam questions which are definitely much harder than the tutorial questions.

So what’s a student to do? Look at part 2 for the answers!


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