In the past 2 years, students have faced great obstacles in their studies, with the pandemic sweeping in like a tsunami, disrupting the usual way of things. Students had to adapt to new ways of learning at home and in environments that may not necessarily be suitable for their learning.

However, this does not deter the Ministry of Education from increasing the bars for their papers. Questions tested are no longer restricted to what was taught to students in their syllabus. Now, our students face questions with materials that they may have never seen before in their curriculum. Application-based questions are now taking up a larger percentage in the papers compared to previously.

In the assessment objectives of the ‘O’ levels Chemistry syllabus, under section B, ‘Handling information and Solving Problems’, it is stated that

These assessment objectives cannot be precisely specified in the subject content because questions testing these objectives may be based on information which is unfamiliar to the candidates. In answering such questions, candidates are required to use principles and concepts that are within the syllabus and apply them in a logical, reasoned or deductive manner to a novel situation.

It is evident from the syllabus that students are no longer just required to recall, reiterate and explain. They now have to understand materials beyond their course content, identify important and relevant information and apply their acquired accordingly.

This is why at Kimiya Learning Place, we have always adhered to our teaching principle of Acquire, Apply, Appreciate.

Acquire stage is when we impart the knowledge to our students for them to understand. At apply stage, we do not just help them memorise the course content. We teach our students how to understand the questions and how to pick out the relevant content.  Once they learn how to apply, they will come to appreciate the concepts and be able to apply for every kind of questions, regardless of the material tested.

Once they learn how to apply, they will come to appreciate the concepts and be able to apply for every kind of questions.

This is an example of how we teach our students to solve questions:

O Levels:

Titanium Chloride (IV) exists as a colourless liquid at room temperature and pressure. Its boiling point is 136 degree celcius.

Based on the information given, explain in terms of bonding and structure present in Titanium Chloride (IV), why the boiling point is low.

Clue from question “liquid at room temperature” “boiling point is low”
Acquire Concept Substances with simple molecular structure has low boiling point
Application Explain using the fact that weak intermolecular force of attraction between the molecules only require a small amount of energy to overcome

Answer: Titanium (IV) chloride has simple covalent structure ams covalent bonding. Small amount of energy is required to overcome the weak intermolecular forces of attraction between the molecules. Hence, it has low boiling point.

Students have not been taught what kind of bonding or structure Titanium (IV) Chloride has in their curriculum, however, simply from the information given, they are required to deduce the bonding and structure.

A Levels:

The lanthanides are a group of metals with similar properties. They all form tripositive ions M3+ (aq). The first member lanthanum, La, has proton number 57 and the electronic configuration [Xe] 4f0 5d1 6s2.

State the likely electronic configuration of lutetium, Lu, the last member of the lanthanide group.

Clue from question 1st member La: [Xe] 4f0 5d1 6s2
Acquire Concept Lanthanides are f-block elements.
Application Putting both points together, electrons are filled in 4f subshell for this group

Answer: [Xe] 4f14 5d1 6s2

Check that the number of electrons is 71.

As you can see from the above question, students were never taught lanthanum and lutetium in their syllabus, however, they had to apply the concepts they have learnt in their curriculum to this question with minimal prior knowledge of these elements. Our tutors teach them how to pick up the clues, link to the relevant theory and then apply them to the specifics of the question.

This type of question is becoming more and more common and no longer will it be enough for students to simply remember their course content. It is thus important for students to learn more advanced skills of picking up clues and relevant questions and how to apply them. And here at Kimiya, we have been committed to teaching students this skill since our founding.

Not only will this help students in their current journey toward the ‘O’ levels examinations, but for students who are looking to take Chemistry at the ‘A’ levels, this is an essential skill that will set a strong foundation.

So, what are you waiting for? Call us at 6554 9440 today to book a free trial class and learn how we help students overcome obstacles and ace their examinations!