Tips on Mastering JC H2 Chemistry

Tips on Mastering JC H2 Chemistry


Many parents are puzzled why their children struggle to pass their A-Level Higher 2 (H2) Chemistry examination when they have scored A1 for their O-Level Chemistry.

We understand the parents’ concern. Who wouldn’t want their children to score outstanding results and gain admission to a university course of their choice?

Most parents expect their child to continue to perform at an acceptable level in the Junior College but many students give their parents a shock with their first term results, which are often a ‘sea of red’. In the first place, parents must understand the transition their children are going through before setting their expectation. It is also important that they have open communication with their children to find out the reasons why they are not performing.

Many students face difficulties adjusting to a different learning environment. In Secondary Schools, they were taught in a small classroom of between 30-40 students and they have the chance to clarify with their Chemistry teacher whenever in doubt. Now in Junior colleges (JCs), lessons are held in lecture theatres and students find it difficult to ask questions when the lecture is in progress. Some have also commented that the pace of lectures is so fast that they only have time to copy notes, but no time to understand the concepts taught. They also found it a challenge to clarify their doubts after the lecture since the lecturers will be surrounded by many other students.

Many would choose to wait until their tutorial sessions to clarify their doubts. The problem is that some school tutors will only discuss concepts based on the given tutorial questions. The questions are often so challenging that students without basic understanding will not be able to even attempt them. As such, they resort to spending time copying down the suggested solutions during the tutorials rather than clarifying their conceptual doubts.

Some students have also feedback that the topic discussed in their tutorials is lagging behind their lectures by 2-3 topics. By the time they attend the tutorial session, they would have forgotten the key concepts taught much earlier and the doubts they would like to clarify. This causes them to lose their interest in the subject.

The truth is that Chemistry concepts involved in A-Level H2 Chemistry are significantly more complicated than those covered in the O-Level Chemistry syllabus. Most of the topics require the students to understand and memorise the key words and definitions in order to have a good grasp of the essential concepts. However, memorising and regurgitating information alone without application are not sufficient at A-Level! Many students can be oblivious to this! To excel, students must be exposed to different types and styles of questions in order to apply and consolidate what they have learnt.

For the past 10 years, Cambridge seldom repeat questions and the questions are getting more challenging and application-based every year. In the Structured & Free Response Questions (Written Papers 2 & 3), there will be a combination of three to four topics in one question. Students are tested on their ability to identify the topics and their flexibility to interrelate the essential concepts from different topics to solve the questions.

As such, it is important that students learn and understand the essential concepts in ALL the topics. Skipping any topics would be detrimental to their results.

For Year 1 students, it is best that they do not throw away their O-Level Chemistry notes and books as these can come in handy as reference. O-Level Chemistry materials are usually not repeated in the JC A-Level H2 syllabus and will not be tested directly. However, it may be required indirectly in response to question on other H2 Chemistry topics. Some of the related topics are Identification of Anions & Cations, Mole Calculations, Preparations of Salts and Redox Reactions.

In view of the sheer amount of content involved, students should learn the essential concepts in a structured manner. They should know the different sub-sections in each topic and the assessment objectives. This is to keep the students focused on what needs to be studied in H2 Chemistry syllabus.

Chemistry can only be mastered with lots of practise.


As each topic is being taught and discussed, students must practise applying the concepts and the strategies in answering the questions. In addition to the questions given in their school’s tutorials, students are highly encouraged to work on questions from past exam papers, especially the last 10 years. This will give them an idea of the types and styles of questions that will be tested, and therefore increase their confidence level!


Source: Quoted from online and educational magazine.

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