The O level Pure Chemistry syllabus is revised once in every six to eight years. This practice is in accordance to the changing needs of the industry, and the skill sets needed from the graduates. It is to conform and stay up to date with these changes. In the last syllabus revision in 2018, one of the major differences presented in O level Chemistry, is the introduction of Paper 3, which is the practical paper. This addition takes up 20% of the entire subject grade.  

In reality, practical examinations are not new to the assessment of laboratory-based Science subjects in Singapore. Before, the O and A levels curriculum included practical examinations, until SPA (School-based Science Practical Assessment) replaced them back in 2006. The weightage of SPA is similar to the practical examination, but the mode of assessment is different. Normally, they use a one-paper examination as a testing method for the students. But instead, the students’ practical skills for two years served as the basis for assessment (during Secondary 3, 4 and JC1,2).

A problem encountered with this specific assessment method is the variation of the standards, and the practical tests’ difficulty level in different schools. Thus, it affects the 20% component of the final grade’s variability across the country. The re-introduction of the practical examination had obvious reasons of standardising the assessment for all students who are taking the same subject examination. Its aim is to improve fairness of the assessment method.

Main Differences From Previous Practical Assessment in O Level Chemistry

Photo by from Pexels

In this new practical paper, there are three main differences from previous practical assessment methods:

  1. Experiments that are not the traditional qualitative and volumetric analyses type,
  2. Application of theory in the observations, explanations and prediction of experimental results, and
  3. The strategic planning of experiments. 

 In a separate blog, we will look into each of these components. We will also explain how Focus Chemistry does it differently from other tuition centres. In this manner, we can better prepare our students for this paper.