• Zenith Education Studio

6 Reasons Why You Need A Level Chemistry Tuition

Unless you are opting for Further Mathematics, Computing, or are an Arts student, chances are that you have to sit for the A Level Chemistry examinations in JC. Chemistry is often groaned about as one of the toughest A Level subjects––many students end up seeking help, and rightfully so, to cope with its demands! There’s no shame in asking for help. Being part of a comprehensive, effective, and fun tuition programme such as Zenith’s can help you to realise your potential in A Level Chemistry with greater ease. This may in turn translate into better grades across all your assessments. In this article, we share with you 7 reasons how joining Singapore’s top A Level Chemistry tuition programme can benefit you in a multitude of ways.

Reason #1: A Level Chemistry is a big leap from O Level Chemistry.

The jump from O Level to A Level Chemistry is often regarded by students as challenging. Indeed, one look at the A Level H2 Chemistry syllabus will tell you that it is structured in a vastly different way from the O Level Chemistry syllabus. The O Level Chemistry syllabus is broken down into 5 categories with a total of 11 topics. Contrastingly, the A Level Chemistry syllabus consists of 3 core ideas and 3 extension topics which comprise a total of 12 topics, each of which has up to 15 desired learning outcomes. This is much more lengthy and comprehensive in comparison to the O Level Chemistry syllabus. While you would have encountered topics such as Atomic Structure and Chemical Bonding previously, the A Level Chemistry syllabus requires that you have a significantly more in-depth understanding of them and a plethora of new concepts will be introduced as well. You might also find that you need to “re-learn” some concepts which were simplified for the O Level syllabus.

A simple overview of the A Level Chemistry syllabus is as follows:

  • Core Idea 1: Matter

  • Topic 1: Atomic Structure

  • Core Idea 2: Structure and Properties

  • Topic 2: Chemical Bonding

  • Topic 3: The Gaseous State

  • Topic 4: Theories of Acids and Bases

  • Topic 5: The Periodic Table

  • Core Idea 3: Transformations

  • Topic 6: The Mole Concept and Stoichiometry

  • Topic 7: Chemical Energetics: Thermochemistry and Thermodynamics (Gibbs Free Energy and Entropy)

  • Topic 8: Reaction Kinetics

  • Topic 9: Chemical Equilibria

  • Extension Topic 10: Chemistry of Aqueous Solutions

  • Extension Topic 11: Organic Chemistry

  • Extension Topic 12: Electrochemistry

You can get a more in-depth breakdown of the A Level H2 Chemistry syllabus here, along with some tips on how to ace your examinations!

Many students often find themselves struggling with the hefty demands of A Level Chemistry while trying to find their footing in a brand new learning environment during the first few months of JC. As the year progresses, students also tend to get caught up with CCA commitments, CIP, and more, perhaps resulting in less time for dedicating to academics. At Zenith, we know that it can be daunting to get yourself properly acquainted with A Level Chemistry when you already have so little time for everything else. This is where, as Singapore’s top A Level Chemistry tuition center, Zenith can make your JC life a little bit easier. Our dedicated tutors are experts at breaking down complex concepts into easily digestible tidbits of information.

“Cheat sheets” are provided to students who attend our classes or crash courses as well. These are concise summary sheets of important concepts which you can easily refer to when attempting practice questions. The Zenith experience is one that prioritises our students, and we make it a point for personalised notes to be compiled and disseminated to all our students on a regular basis. This saves you the time of having to grapple with an already challenging topic on your own.

Reason #2: You can no longer get away with rote memorisation at the A Level Chemistry examinations.

A Level Chemistry can be confusing, especially as a considerable number of generic concepts hold true only in specific circumstances. Students might find themselves frustrated when realising that many of the theories and models that they already struggle to understand are not applicable 100% of the time. For instance, while it is generally understood at the O Levels that a full octet structure can only hold 8 electrons, the A Level Chemistry syllabus requires you to identify exceptions when the octet structure can be expanded.

This also means that merely memorising concepts and forcefully applying them at the A Level Chemistry examinations is unlikely to work well for your grades. Most of the time, especially for topics such as Electrochemistry, Metal Reactivity, and Mole Calculations, students are expected to derive answers through a sequence of Mathematical calculations.

For instance, when studying Electrolysis, the O Level syllabus only demands that students understand that solutions with different concentration levels result in different products; there is no need to derive through Mathematical calculation what these products are. Additional information is provided in questions for students to predict what the likely products of the electrolysis of an aqueous solution are. However, at the A Levels, the focus shifts to Electrochemistry, of which Electrolysis is a smaller subset (Fig 1). Students are required to know and be able to derive through redoxification concepts, which products can be derived from these solutions. You have to be able to calculate the potential differences of redoxification reactions. Thereafter, whether the same reaction can occur under normal conditions may be predicted. Further understanding of why and how these products are formed through chemical reactions is also necessary.

Fig 1. A Level Chemistry syllabus for Electrochemistry

At Zenith, you get to learn and perfect your application of exclusive tips for answering such frequently tested questions at the A Level Chemistry examinations.

Attending a comprehensive Chemistry tuition programme can help you strengthen your foundation for the A Levels. At Zenith, our team of tutors also provides you with exclusive tips, developed through constant revision of our in-class syllabus, which will make combatting the A Level Chemistry examinations less of a struggle. Find out when exactly you can apply concepts in their original form, and when they need to be modified to fit exceptional situations. Being able to quickly and accurately identify which concepts to apply to a particular question during the A Level Chemistry examinations will help you to utilise the time you have more effectively. Knowing which Mathematical calculation you are expected to perform is also extremely important –– you don’t want to be working out what the percentage yield is when the question is asking you for the percentage composition! If you are able to figure out the demands of a question without difficulty, you can spend more time devising a more holistic answer that covers all the necessary concepts. This is especially important for the Structured and Free Response questions which award marks with a point system.

Reason #3: Organic Chemistry at the A Levels is far more challenging than at the O Levels.

At the A Levels, Organic Chemistry is the largest extension topic that students have to be well-acquainted with. It is also one of the topics which require extensive sketching of molecular structures, which some students may struggle with, as many molecular structures only differ from each other slightly. Careless mistakes are often easy to make and difficult to spot or correct. Additionally, students have to master both the skeletal formula and stereochemical formula which are not in the O Level Chemistry syllabus (Fig 2). This makes Organic Chemistry, which is already a very content-heavy topic, especially challenging for students.

Fig 2. A Level Syllabus’ specification of the skeletal formula and stereochemical formula, both of which are not in the O Level Syllabus

At Zenith, our team of tutors simplifies your learning process by helping you to break down each organic formula, such that you are able to clearly identify the individual atoms which comprise a particular molecule. Our tutors will help you to understand exactly how and why electrons move in a particular way in organic reaction mechanisms, rather than just remembering it through rote memory. For stereochemical formulas, Zenith’s students are also taught effective tips and tricks for visualising molecules in 3D such that they are able to indicate them clearly in their workings. This is important as it demonstrates a high level of understanding with regards to how bonds, atoms, and groups interact with each other, which is a critical aspect of Organic Chemistry.

Reason #4: You get more practice for every component of the A Level Chemistry examinations.

Unlike O Level Chemistry, the A Level Chemistry examinations comprise more components, each of which is much longer than at the O Levels. From Fig 3., students can see that while Structured Questions and Free Response Questions were combined into a single 1h 45min examination at the O Levels, they are now split into two individual 2h papers at the A Levels. The Multiple Choice segment also has a lower weighting, with more of it being reallocated to the often more challenging open-ended questions in Paper 2 and 3.

Fig 3. Structure of the A Level H2 Chemistry examinations provided by SEAB

To ace the A Level Chemistry examinations, it is imperative that students have a good grasp of every component. At Zenith, our team of tutors makes it a point to provide our students with a variety of practice questions. Furthermore, as each student is different, they are encouraged to arrange one-to-one consultations with our tutors to receive personalised feedback and work out their specific areas of improvement.

As Singapore’s top A Level Chemistry tuition center, Zenith drills our students such that they become familiar with all question types, and are able to deal with curveballs that application questions might throw at them. Students are encouraged to speak up in class to share their answers. This enables you to learn from one another while reinforcing your own understanding of particular topics. Verbalising your answers also puts you in the habit of thinking on your feet and using scientific jargon appropriately. For the MCQ section, it is especially important that you are able to think fast, as you only have 60 minutes to answer 30 questions, some of which include relatively complicated calculations. Find out more about how to ace the A Level Chemistry MCQ section with Zenith here.

Reason #5: Zenith adopts tried and tested teaching pedagogies which focuses on the real-world application of concepts that you acquire when studying for the A Level Chemistry examinations.

Many students often dread application questions, for fear that they will not be able to identify the concept being tested and apply it correctly. Nonetheless, the truth is that many questions in the A Level Chemistry examinations revolve around candidates' accurate explanation of technical concepts in relation to real-world problems. Indeed, one of the syllabus’ assessment objectives (Fig 4.) is for students to handle, apply and evaluate information using Scientific concepts. You will be required to work with data in numerous different situations, extrapolate relationships between variables and construct logical arguments to justify your Scientific conclusions. Instead of blindly regurgitating concepts, you will also need to know the limits and boundaries of Chemistry theories and models.

Fig 4. Assessment Objectives of the A Level Chemistry examinations