The practical examination for the O level started in 2018 when the revised syllabus was introduced to 16-year-old students in Singapore. As part of the practical examinations (paper 3), the planning questions for O Level Chemistry practical paper appear every year and the weightage is about 4-6 marks in a 40-mark paper, in which the duration of the paper is 1 hour 50 min. This part constitutes about 10-15% of Paper 3. So what are these planning questions all about?
As the name suggests, the question requires students to look at the question’s objective and plan a rational experiment to achieve that objective. To do well for this question, Focus Chemistry trains our students to take note of the following.
Aspects to Take Note About O Level Chemistry Practical Paper
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1. The objective
Always focus on the objective of the experiment. Plan so that the data gathered from the experiment achieves that objective. Sometimes, the question could also ask for a procedure that does not require data gathering. For example, in the 2021 paper 3, they asked students to plan a process to prepare a 0.100moldm-3 solution of aqueous HCl from a more concentrated solution (1 moldm-3)
The syllabus covers the concepts needed to plan the experiment. Thus to plan the correct experiment, we strongly recommended to revise certain important topics of the syllabus very well. Some of them include the mole concept, rate of reaction and energy changes.
Since the Practical examination in 2018, 3 out of 4 planning questions asked were related to the mole concept, showing the importance of this topic in Paper 3. The mole concept is also crucial in other practical questions such as titration and energy changes questions. For Focus Chemistry students, we will list down the topics to revise before Paper 3. This is according to the probability of occurrence in the examination.
3. Procedure writing
They should write the procedure in as many details as possible, without specifying the quantities of reactants required (Quantity of reactants required is only tested in the A levels). However, students should be aware of the apparatus and glassware commonly available in the school chemistry laboratory. For instance, the electronic balance, measuring cylinder, and thermometer.
4. Other knowledge
There are times when the question might ask, as a sub-part, other concepts that are not in the syllabus, such as safety aspects, sources of errors and means of minimising these errors. Thus, students have to equip themselves to answer such questions.
How We Prepare Students for O Level Chemistry Practical Paper
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At Focus Chemistry, we amply prepare our students to handle not just the O Level Chemistry theory paper (1 and 2), but also the practical paper (experimental and planning questions). We have specially crafted planning questions that have similar difficulty levels as the O levels and some of the top secondary schools’ preliminary examinations in order to train and prepare our students. These questions cover a range of concepts from topics frequently assessed in experimental scenarios. This is only possible as we have well-trained tutors in experimental Chemistry and mentor experimental research in Secondary schools.