5 Important Things Before Chemistry Practical Exams
Mr Kelvin

Mr Kelvin

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5 Important Things Before Chemistry Practical Exams

Read this article before you revise for A level practical! How to prepare for A level practical exam?

15 Oct 2020. Probably one of the most dreaded dates of H2 Chemistry students. H2 Chemistry Practical exam, aka Paper 4, is coming in a few weeks time and this is the paper that students are least prepared for. Good news is that majority (maybe 99%) of A level H2 Chemistry students in Singapore are equally unprepared. But, how can you have an advantage over your peers? Read on to find out more.

1. Gather ALL experiments you have done in JC1 and JC2

Since you wouldn’t be able to try out all experiments again, the least that you can do is to read through all of them again! Make sure to do this with a conscientious friend of yours. Double check with your friend to make sure you have gathered all previous experiments. You don’t want to be missing that ONE experiment that will be coming out in the practical exams. For those that you have missed out, make sure to photocopy from your conscientious friend 🙂 

2. Group the experiments worksheets into FIVE categories.

This is a very crucial step as it will help you scope your revision and have a more targeted practical revision. The five categories are:

  1. Volumetric Analysis
  2. Chemical Energetics
  3. Reaction Kinetics
  4. Qualitative Analysis
  5. Others (e.g. gravimetry, Ksp determination, etc)

The first 4 categories are the most important as they have been tested every year in practical exam since the start of the new H2 Chemistry syllabus, 9729.

3. Revise each category

When we say revise, we don’t mean just reading through all experiments. That’s not a storybook! 

  1. As you are reading the steps, try to recall the experiment setup, if any, drawing pictures of the experimental setup will also help you to retain knowledge of that experiment better. As you are reading the step by step experimental procedure, visualise in your mind as though you are physically doing the experiment. 
  2. Data recording skills are very important. Look through your experiments and remember how to record your data. E.g. titration table, recording of temperature, mass readings, etc.
  3. Plotting of graph will definitely be tested. Remember these few points when plotting graph
    1. Choose a scale such that your curve or line occupies at least 50% of available space
    2. Label your axes with units
    3. Mark your data points with a small cross (using a sharp pencil). Data points should be plotted up to half square. This is a little hard to explain, if u need more help on this, text us.
    4. Draw your best fit line or curve. Ensure equal distribution of data points on both sides of the line or curve
    5. Circle and label anomalous points clearly, else Cambridge will think that you did not draw a best fit line or curve properly
    6. If you are using any intersection or peaks from the plotted graph, write the coordinates of that point on the graph, e.g. (0.200, 3.56)
  4. Practice those calculation questions again

4. Planning Questions

It is pretty difficult to study for planning because literally anything experiments can be tested. Thus, the best way is still to revise all experiments diligently. When you revise more experiments, you will gain more knowledge on different experiments, so when asked to plan a similar experiment type, you will know roughly what to do.

Something interesting came out in 2019 A Level practical. Students were asked to plan and perform experiments, in which students were supposed to identify the anions present.

5. The BIG question: Will Transition Metals come out in 2020 A Level Practical?

This is a tough question. Although Transition Metals chapter has been removed from 2020 9729 H2 Chemistry syllabus, practical is slightly different from theory papers. 

You will not be asked about the chemistry of transition metals but Cambridge could still test on your observation skills and recording of observations, e.g. colour of ppt or ppt dissolving on excess aqueous ammonia. Furthermore, QA notes will still be provided in practical exam, so you will still be able to identify the cations based on the observations. My personal take is to review the QA notes on transition metals cations, so you know roughly the colours of some cations.

Hopefully this article will help you to prepare for the practical exam. Fee free to share this article with your friends.