Category : Tips

Getting a strong start for H2 Chemistry in 2024

Mr Khemistry

To get a strong start in H2 Chemistry in 2024, here are some steps you can follow (things NOT to do are in parentheses) :

  1. Review foundational concepts: Start by reviewing the foundational concepts from J1 Chemistry or the main topics you have weakness in. Make sure you have a solid understanding of topics like atomic structure, chemical bonding, chemical equations, stoichiometry, and periodic trends. (Don’t review/revise if you want to be like everyone else, failing)
  2. Familiarize yourself with the syllabus: Obtain a copy of the H2 Chemistry syllabus for 2024 and go through the learning objectives carefully. Understand the topics that will be covered in J2 and the specific learning outcomes expected from you. This will help you plan your study schedule effectively. For H2 Chemistry in J2, usually you will need to practise mindmaps for organic chemistry thoroughly. (ALL students who fail don’t remember reagents and conditions, so if you want to fail, don’t memorise reagents and conditions for organic chem)
  3. Set clear goals and create a study plan: Break down the syllabus into smaller topics and allocate time for each based on their weightage and your familiarity with them. Create a study plan that includes regular study sessions, revision periods, and practice questions. For our current system of assessment, one of the best ways to practise is to get hold of past year test papers from your college and do it under timed conditions. Mark your work and review your mistakes. You will soon notice a pattern how the questions are crafted. (Do not attempt “open book” practise where you refer to your notes and not keeping to timed conditions. Many students do their tutorials and ten year series this way and wonder why they still fail. In exams settings, there is no answers for you to refer to while attempting the questions. Remember that.)
  4. Use reliable study resources: Gather high-quality study resources, including textbooks, reference books, online resources, and past examination papers. Look for resources that are recommended by your teachers or trusted sources. These resources should provide clear explanations, examples, and practice questions to reinforce your understanding. OR…you can use our in-house notes, carefully curated to the H2 chemistry learning objectives. Do check out our class schedule to find your preferred timeslot! Ok, end of commercial 🙂 (Students who fail usually have incomplete notes or notes with lots of mistakes)
  5. Attend classes and engage with the teacher: Actively participate in your H2 Chemistry tutorials. Take notes, ask questions, and clarify any doubts you may have. Yes, this means you will have to PREPARE BEFOREHAND! Don’t go to tutorials like going for a movie, waiting to be entertained! Engage with your teacher and classmates in robust conceptual discussions to deepen your understanding of the topic. Make use of the opportunities to perform experiments in the laboratory and understand the practical aspects of chemistry….instead of just blindly following what your friends are doing. (Many students go to practical lessons not knowing what they are doing, don’t let it be you.)
  6. Practice regularly: Chemistry requires practice to develop problem-solving skills and reinforce concepts. Solve a variety of practice questions, including those from tutorials, tests and past papers. Pay attention to the steps involved in solving problems and try to understand the underlying principles. Practicing regularly will help you identify areas where you need improvement.(What NOT to do – keep referring to the solutions to get the answer and not knowing how to solve a similar question.)
  7. Form study groups: Consider forming study groups with classmates who are also committed to excelling in H2 Chemistry. Collaborating with others can help you gain different perspectives, share knowledge, and clarify doubts. Discussing challenging topics and solving problems together can enhance your understanding and retention of the subject matter. I know some students have very active daily discussions with their classmates and teachers in a whatsapp chat group. This helps every one to think through the problem and understand how to follow a thought process. Teachers do this very often, that’s why we often know what the question will ask before we read the whole question stem. (students who fail don’t participate in active daily discussions)
  8. Seek help when needed: Don’t hesitate to seek help when you encounter difficulties. Reach out to your teacher or classmates for assistance. If necessary, consider hiring a tutor who specializes in H2 Chemistry to provide additional guidance and support. Sometimes it is difficult to reach your school teachers after office hours, or when you are doing your tutorials or assignments. Once again, if you are looking for an experienced, reliable H2 chemistry tutor, contact us at 83322534 🙂 (remember students who fail, most of them don’t ask questions in class because they don’t prepare for tutorial)
  9. Stay organized and manage your time effectively: Maintain a well-organized study environment and keep track of your assignments, deadlines, and important dates. Use a planner or digital tools to manage your time effectively and prioritize your tasks. I use a weekly planner every year to plan out to-do lists, keep track of process, reflections etc. There are just so many things we can put on the planner, as they say, “On the paper, off the mind”. “Thoughts disentangle when they pass through the fingers”. Facts: Things that you write out have a much higher possibility of getting done! (Fun fact, students who fail tests sometimes didn’t even know there was a test until just before it!)
  10. Stay motivated and take care of yourself: H2 Chemistry is a challenging subject, don’t let anyone tell you it’s so easy. It’s essential to stay motivated and take care of your mental well-being. Set small milestones and reward yourself when you achieve them. Take breaks during long study sessions to relax and rejuvenate. (But don’t game in the middle of studying, it breaks your focus.) Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy study-play balance. A tightly knit community can journey with you through this season. Remember, consistency and perseverance are key to success in H2 Chemistry. May you find good success in H2 Chemistry!

MCQ Strategies to prepare effectively for H2 Chemistry Paper 1

Mr Khemistry

MCQ

Preparing for the MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) Paper 1 in H2 Chemistry requires a focused and strategic approach.

Here are some effective MCQ strategies to help you prepare for Paper 1:

  1. Understand the Format: Familiarize yourself with the format of the MCQ Paper 1. Understand how many questions are included, the allotted time, and any specific instructions or guidelines provided. This will help you plan your time effectively during the exam. H2 Chemistry P1 has a total of 30 questions, with a few MCT questions scattered throughout the paper. Meaning you have an average of 2 minutes per question.
  2. Review Key Concepts: MCQs often test your understanding of fundamental concepts in Chemistry. Review and revise the key topics and concepts covered in the syllabus. Pay attention to areas where students commonly make mistakes or find challenging. Analyze the other options as they often are distractors which are answers from miscalculations or misconceptions.
  3. Practice with Past Papers: Obtain past year MCQ papers and practice answering them under timed conditions. This will help you become familiar with the types of questions asked, the level of difficulty, and the time pressure you may experience during the actual exam. Analyze your answers and identify any patterns of mistakes or weaknesses. This is particularly crucial as students tend to be weak in certain areas, e.g. calculations.
  4. Learn from Mistakes: When reviewing your practice MCQs, carefully analyze the questions you answered incorrectly. Understand why you made the mistake and learn from it. Review the underlying concept or topic related to the question and reinforce your understanding to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
  5. Focus on Explanations: MCQ papers often provide explanations or solutions for the questions. Pay close attention to these explanations, even for questions you answered correctly. This will help you deepen your understanding and gain insights into the reasoning behind the correct answers. Many students skip this part because they think they’ve already understood the concept when in fact they just happened to pick the correct answer.
  6. Identify Common Patterns: MCQs often follow certain patterns or trends. Identify common question types, such as those related to specific reaction mechanisms, common misconceptions, or applications of key concepts. By recognizing these patterns, you can better anticipate the types of questions that may appear in the exam and prepare accordingly.
  7. Practice Quick Analysis: Train yourself to quickly analyze each question. Read the question carefully, identify the key information, and eliminate any obviously incorrect options. Use your knowledge and reasoning skills to narrow down the choices and select the most appropriate answer. Remember to consider all the given options before making your final selection.
  8. Develop Test-Taking MCQ Strategies: In addition to content knowledge, develop test-taking strategies to maximize your performance during the exam. For example, if you’re unsure about an answer, use strategies like educated guessing or strategic elimination to increase your chances of selecting the correct option. This is especially useful for those questions that involves identifying a correct sequence. Any part that does not have a correct sequence can be eliminated first.
  9. Time Management: During your practice sessions, ensure that you allocate a specific amount of time for each question. This will help you develop a sense of timing and ensure that you can complete the paper within the given time frame. If you encounter a particularly challenging question, it’s better to move on and come back to it later if time permits. The general strategy for H2 Chemistry is to do the organic questions faster and allocate more time for complex calculation questions.
  10. Seek Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from your Chemistry teacher or peers. They can review your practice papers, provide insights on your performance, and offer suggestions for improvement. Peer discussions can also be beneficial as you can learn from each other’s approaches and thought processes.

By following these MCQ strategies and regular practice, you can improve your performance in the MCQ Paper 1 for H2 Chemistry. Remember to stay calm, focused, and confident during the exam. Good luck!

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How to study Chemistry effectively?

Mr Khemistry

Study Chemistry Tips!

Studying H2 chemistry effectively requires a combination of proper planning, active learning strategies, and consistent practice. Here are some tips to help you study chemistry effectively:

  1. Understand the concepts: Start by thoroughly understanding the fundamental concepts of H2 chemistry. Take the time to read your textbook or any supplementary materials, and make sure you grasp the underlying principles before moving on to more complex topics. For example, if you don’t understand chemical bonding, it might be more difficult to understand delocalisation and resonance in Organic Chemistry later on. Another example is if you do not grasp Chemical Equilibrium’s basic concept of how equilibrium shifts according to Le Chatelier’s Principle, you will likely struggle with Acid-base Equilibrium since there’s another layer of concept (acids and bases) on top of the equilibrium concept.
  2. Create a study schedule: Plan your study time and allocate specific periods for H2 chemistry. Break down the topics into manageable chunks and assign dedicated study sessions for each. A consistent study schedule will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the necessary material. I keep a daily to-do list and cross them out as i go through the day. It’s extremely satisfying for me and irks me when i see many items still on the list by noon. So use a little bit of psychology here. Same concept with a door half-close, a dessert with a bite left, a circle not closed. A to-do list is an open loop and we instinctively want to close the loop by completing the tasks. If you’re the sort that can’t be bother to close the fridge door, just stop reading here already.
  3. Take thorough notes: While studying, take detailed notes that summarize the key concepts, definitions, and examples. Writing down the information helps reinforce your understanding and serves as a useful reference for revision. I have had students who are always asking me how to study better, how to score good grade etc. I wish they can see how they act when in class. Spacing out, not taking down corrections, notes when i’m teaching, not doing homework….the list goes on. There’s no magic pill to improvement, you have to do the work. You have to use your mind to think and not always trying just to memorise everything. Our brain remembers things that makes sense or have sequence, logic. If you don’t understand how the concepts works and just rote learn, there’s a limit to how much you can remember.
  4. Practice regularly: Chemistry is a subject that requires practice. Solve a variety of problems, including textbook exercises, past exam papers, and additional practice questions. This will help you apply the concepts, improve problem-solving skills, and familiarize yourself with different types of questions. Practise with your mind engaged, remember the brain is like a muscle, the more you apply it, the stronger it gets. Conversely, the less you use it…
  5. Seek clarification: Don’t hesitate to seek clarification when you encounter difficulties or have questions. Consult your teacher, classmates, or online resources to get a better understanding of challenging topics or concepts. There is so much resources nowadays, make an effort to get help. But before you go ask for any help, make sure you help yourself by doing the afore mentioned points first.
  6. Use visual aids: Chemistry often involves complex structures and reactions. Utilize visual aids such as molecular models, diagrams, and charts to visualize and understand the concepts. This can make abstract ideas more tangible and easier to comprehend. i.e. molecular models help visualize stereoisomerism.
  7. Form study chemistry groups: Collaborating with classmates can be beneficial for discussing concepts, solving problems together, and sharing different perspectives. Explaining concepts to others can deepen your understanding, and group discussions can help reinforce learning. There are many types of study groups, make sure your study group has people of different abilities. If you’re just huddling with your close friends, none of whom have the faintest idea how to solve chemistry problems, you are not going to improve studying together. It’d just be a group chit-chat session.
  8. Review and revise: Regularly review your notes and practice materials to reinforce your understanding of the topics. Use techniques like flashcards, concept maps, or summarizing key points to aid in retention and recall. I cannot begin to tell you how many students think that going to school/tuition and just sitting there copying whatever is on the screen is going to help them ace the A levels. They spend a couple of hours just reading through the lecture notes and comfort themselves that they have done enough. Nooooooo, far from it. Practise and revise regularly!
  9. Seek additional resources: Explore additional resources like online tutorials, videos, interactive simulations, or chemistry-related websites to supplement your learning. These resources can provide alternative explanations and examples to enhance your understanding. These can come in the form of tuition or textbooks also. Do check out our helpful H2 Chemistry Summaries at our student portal,  available for just $9.90! Chemistry Student Portal
  10. Stay engaged and motivated: Maintain a positive mindset, stay motivated, and find ways to stay engaged with the subject. Motivation can come from many sources, i personally use Youtube to listen to motivational talks from Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Lewis Holmes, etc. You can check out my Youtube channel here! Connect the chemistry concepts to real-life applications, stay curious, and appreciate the relevance and beauty of chemistry.

Remember, effective studying is about consistent effort, active engagement, and understanding the underlying principles. Be patient with yourself, seek help when needed, and celebrate your progress along the way.

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Procrastination

Mr Khemistry

Procrastination.

It’s the one silent killer that kills all our best intentions. Why do we always wait until it’s too late? Prevention is better than Cure, but nobody believes it. It’s the same with health, studies, career, relationships, income/sex inequalities, even global warming.

We wait until the symptoms can no longer be ignored. A stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high cholesterol. Failing grades, retrenchment, divorce, societal unrest/revolt, rising sea levels, crazy weather storms.

What do all these things have in common?

Their decline is unnoticeable, minute. A slow boiling of the frog. And our adaptability works against us here.

Mel Ribbons gives a great interview here with Tom Bilyeu about how we can stop procrastination.

One of the best habits i have which helps me mightily in the fight against procrastination is a daily to-do list.

Obeying and checking off the to-do list gives me a sense of progress, which is sooooooo important to get us moving off our butts. I know that when i fail to come up with a to-do list by Sunday night, most of the time, i’m going to be lounging around the house getting nothing much done for the whole week. But when i have a list, it reminds me, no it whips me mentally to look at it and get off my butt.

Although a to-do list is a good idea, do make sure that the things that you list helps your progress towards one of your long term goals that you care deeply about. How to know what goals you care deeply about? That’s a post for another day 🙂

So what is your weapon against procrastination? Do you even know what are the areas in your life you need to stop procrastinating?

Take action today, now! Like Mel says, use the 5 seconds rule to just do it, don’t let your brain have the time to talk you out of it.

All the best! 🙂

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Clarity

Mr Khemistry

Clarity

You might have heard the advice, “Work harder, practise more, listen attentively to lecture….” What i’m going to share is mindblowing.

All those advice is good but diligence without clarity is nuts!

I’m going to give a sports analogy. Soccer – Most teams will have the manager or coach give them a strategy briefing on how to play the game against the opposing team before the actual match. Why? Isn’t more practise and training enough? Strikers know how to score, defenders know how to defend, midfielders know how to tackle and get possession. Goalkeeper just keep the ball out of the net.

Of course not, soccer is a team game. The players need to know the objective so that they know how they should play. For example, if the opposing team is playing on their home ground, they have the advantage. Also does the team just need a draw rather than a win? Knowing the objective informs the strategy on how to play the game.

For students studying for O or A level Chemistry, or any other subjects, there is a clear objective laid out before every topic. But it seems like no student ever reads those.

Without clarity on what they will be tested on, how will they know the strategy to employ?

Students like to complain that their notes is so thick, so much information that they don’t know what are the important parts. But they failed to recognise that schools MUST give the context for the concepts that they study, otherwise there’s no head no tail. In the same vein, teachers in school need to teach the whole lecture notes because they must give the context. This is good and necessary.

On the student’s part, they will need to filter out the important information that they need to memorise and structure their answers properly with keywords. Without reading through the learning objectives, most students are lost and overwhelmed by the flood of information.

Thus, tuition comes in. What we try to do is to zoom in on the most important and most tested concepts. Then repeatedly tell the students. Why repeatedly? Because i’ve tried telling them once or twice, even three times. They end up forgetting. Repeating the same concepts in different ways/methods helps students to remember.

This post is on clarity and that is what i hope to impart to my students, clarity on what is important and what is not. With clarity, they can then learn to organise the important knowledge, classify them and easily pull them out from their mental cabinets when required.

Are you clear? 🙂

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Sleep and memory retention

Mr Khemistry

Learning and memory retention

BENEFITS OF SLEEPING 8 HRS A DAY. A good sleep is very important for your… | by amberasad | Medium

During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can‘t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things.” – healthline.com

Guys who go to gym knows the importance of rest days, our physical body needs to rest in order to build up new muscles. If you keep gyming 7 days a week non-stop, pumping iron, without giving your body time to rest, it’s actually detrimental to your body.

In the same way, when you keep studying non-stop, deep into the night, getting less than 6 hours (JC students probably can’t get 9 hrs as recommended!) of sleep daily, this can have a negative effect on your learning and memory retention!

Always have a balance between learning, leisure and rest.

Check out our other blog posts for more tips!

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Circuit Breaker

Mr Khemistry

Circuit Breaker

We are in an unprecedented time. World-wide, many countries have locked down.

Many of us have to stay at home but some have yet to adapt to this lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at some of the things we can do during this Circuit Breaker period so that we come out better.

  1. Read a book. This is the time to get down to reading a book. Reading gives us insights from other people’s experiences, remember all leaders are readers.
  2. Pick up a new skill. I mean those skills you can learn online. Udemy is a great website that teaches everything from marketing to building a website.
  3. Call someone and find out how they have been. Reconnect with friends you have lost contact with.
  4. Spend time with loved ones. We spend some much time at home now but if we are not intentional about it, it could well be time wasted! Take pictures, videos, these will become precious memories in time to come.
  5. Exercise! This is one of the few reasons you can leave your home for. Get fit. Emerge stronger.

I’m not going to list watching tv and browsing social media because these do not necessarily add value to us.

So there you have it, do upgrade yourself during this period!

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Perseverance – an often misused word

Mr Khemistry

Perseverance

It is an often quoted word to students, other forms include tenacity, determination, grit etc. As teachers, we try to inculcate the right values to students but sometimes the meaning of the word gets lost in translation.

From the dictionary, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Perseverance by itself is a good thing and every successful individual possess this quality. However, we do have to qualify it when used in terms of studying.

If a student is already studying as hard as he/she possibly can, telling them to work harder, longer isn’t really helpful. I knew a student once who was extremely diligent, she would finish all the tutorials and revision worksheets the school gave. Yet her results (including chemistry) were always failing or just scrapping a pass. Did she persevere? She did all she could but she just couldn’t get a good grade.

You would remember the story of Thomas Edison inventing the light bulk after failing 1000 times. We need to realise that Edison didn’t keep doing the same thing 1000 times. His goal was specific, he wanted to invent the light bulb. But the method to do it was not. Meaning, he tried 1000 different ways to make it work.

And this is the secret behind all successful people…they don’t keep repeating the same old mistakes. They try, fail, learn from it and try another method. The learning part is sometimes missing when students hear about perseverance. So they work harder, stay up longer, doing the SAME thing they did when they failed!

Einstein said that “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results”.

So i tell my students, our goal is to score an A, there’s many ways we can go about it. Our goal is specific, but the method is not! Be resourceful! When we go out to work next time, we will also meet challenges and we can use our mind to think of alternative ways to achieve the target.

If you had been failing H2 Chemistry, have you thought of changing your study strategy? Since the way you had been studying haven’t work. Remember, don’t ignore the problem, don’t deny the problem. Face it and think how can you solve it.

After teaching Chemistry for more than 14 years, we have developed several studying strategies for students. Come down for a trial lesson to see how we guide students approach the question.

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Physical Chemistry Calculations – Be Aware Where Errors Occur

Mr Khemistry

Physical Chemistry Calculations

Physical Chemistry – Recently i was revising acid-base equilibrium with one of my students and i realised she has trouble getting the right answer even though the procedure is correct. We went through the process and every step was conceptually correct. Then i got her to show me how she calculated on her GC, i saw the workings and it was right. But when she pressed “=”, the answer came out wrong!

Boy, was i puzzled. We went through the steps carefully again and still we arrived at the same outcome. Finally, after i queried her on one of the steps, we both realised what’s wrong. She did not use brackets to sequence the operations, thus the calculator did not process the workings in the sequence we wanted.

A few more questions with calculations we encountered different problems, like missing out a zero or misreading a digit. I pointed out to her none of the questions we did had any mistakes conceptually, only the numerical answers were wrong. I asked her would she be discouraged and come to the conclusion physical chemistry is difficult? She said yes. And no wonder, after thinking so hard and so many calculations, the final answer always turned out to be wrong.

I taught her to carefully check through her workings when doing calculations and look out for common errors. Most importantly, not to be discouraged and come to the wrong conclusion physical chemistry is hard! Most of the calculations in physical chemistry is NOT hard, we just need to practise and look out for common errors.

Do you find physical chemistry daunting? You can do well in it!

Come join us at our weekly group tuition to see how you can confidently approach calculations too!

Share this article if you found it helpful!

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Solving Organic Deductive Questions

Mr Khemistry

Solving Organic Deductive Questions

Compound J, C8H6O4, forms a molecule K, C8H10O3, when reacted with LiAlH4 in dry ether. However, when J was reacted with NaBH4 instead, a product of molecular formula C8H8O4 was formed.

J gives an orange precipitate with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine but does not give any precipitate when warmed with Fehling’s reagent. K reacts with bromine water to form L, C8H7O3Br3.

Suggest the structures of J, K and L.             

Solution:

First information is the molecular formula, it has almost the same C to H ratio and has more than six carbons => likely to have benzene ring C6H6

(Note that there is still two carbon atoms not accounted for)

When it undergoes reduction with LiAlH4, 4 hydrogen atoms were added but 1 oxygen atom was removed. => likely to have one COOH group, accounts for 2 oxygen atoms

But when it undergoes reduction with NaBH4, only 2 hydrogen atoms were added. 
=> confirmed one of the reduction by LiAlH4 was on COOH.                                         

J undergoes condensation with 2,4-DNPH but does not undergo oxidation with Fehling’s reagent. => carbonyl but not aliphatic aldehyde. Possible to be aromatic aldehyde or ketone.

K  undergoes electrophilic substitution (tri-substitution) with bromine water => phenol present and also 2,4,6 positions does not have any substituent groups. This means that the two remaining carbon atoms must be at 3 and 5 positions. Additionally, this means that ketone is no longer possible as we would need two carbon on the same substituent group.

Summary: From the above deductions, J has phenol, aromatic aldehyde and carboxylic acid on positions 1,3,5.

K has phenol and two primary alcohols.

L has tri-substituted Br on positions 2,4,6, phenol, aromatic aldehyde and carboxylic acid on position 1,3,5.

deductive question

Hope you’ve enjoyed this article on solving organic deductive questions! Share with your friends if you’ve found it useful!

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