What are the assessments in QCE chemistry?
First let’s start by unpacking the assessments involved in Chemistry, which make up a major part of your internal marks.
Some common assessments in QCE chemistry often include:
Classroom Assessments/ Progress Quizzes: Regular, smaller assessments covering specific topics. Make sure to put effort into preparing for these quizzes, as they can give you examples of the kind of questions which you can face in the final exam. Staying up to date with your coursework, actively participating in class, and seeking help from your teacher can help you ace these mini quizzes.
IA1 Formula/Data test: This assessment is worth 10% of your final grade. It includes short answer and paragraph type responses. It is one of the simple assessments you will face during Y11 and Y12. Graphics calculator is permitted for this test.
Refer to this link to access QCAA chemistry exemplar.
IA 2 Student Experiment Laboratory Report: Chemistry involves practical experiments in a laboratory setting. One of the assessments involves you writing a laboratory report which analyses the results of one of the experiments you conducted in class time. You’ll need to draft reports summarizing your methods, observations, and results. Pay attention to detail, use appropriate scientific language, and make sure your reports are well-organized and neat.
Refer to this link to access a QCE chemistry high level annotated student experiment exemplar.
IA3 Research investigation: This assessment piece requires research, analysis, and summarization skills. These can be related to specific topics or real-world applications of chemistry. This assessment requires the student to find 2 to 3 research articles which are relevant to the topic presented to them and analyze the strengths and limitations etc of the studies. It is basically a mini version of a literature review.
Refer to this link to access a QCE chemistry high level annotated RESEARCH INVESTIGATION exemplar.
Examinations: These are often given at the end of units or semesters and assess your overall understanding of the course material. Effective study techniques, including reviewing class notes, textbooks, and practicing with past papers, can be very helpful.
Some common exam question types:
- Multichoice Questions (MCQ’s)
- Short answer type questions
- Long answer types of Questions
How to study for the subject and How to study for exams:
As for a general timeline, here’s a rough outline:
Start of the Semester: Get organized and create a study schedule which incorporates at least 1hr dedicated to chemistry. This allocated time can increase as you come closer to an assessment or exam.
Throughout the Semester: Stay engaged and active in your classes and lab work. Pay attention to the teacher as they point out important topics and subtopics, which may be asked in exams for a huge chunk of marks. Additionally, make sure to keep up with notetaking so that you do not fall behind. Never hesitate to ask your teacher to explain a topic again, as these topics can be weighted heavily in your final exams.
Before Major Exams: Start reviewing well in advance, ideally a few weeks before the exams. Use textbooks, notes, and past papers for practice. Never skip topics because you think they are not important; anything mentioned in the QCAA chemistry syllabus will be tested either in the form of assignments or exams.
Refer to this link to access the official QCAA chemistry syllabus.
Before Major Assignments/Projects: Begin working on them as soon as they are assigned. Break the work into manageable parts and allocate time for research, writing, and editing. Never leave your assignments to the last minute as they are worth a decent chunk of your final grade. Make sure you submit your draft like it were your final so that you get the most amount of feedback possible.
Topic-specific tips and tricks
QCE Chemistry covers a wide range of topics, and here are some specific tips for a few challenging areas:
UNIT 1: Chemical fundamentals structure, properties, and reactions
- Make sure you know how to read the periodic table, the location of various essential elements (C, Na, K, Ca, H, and F etc).
- Make sure to note the trends in the periodic table (could be a short answer question)
- Practice calculating the valency and ionization potentials of various elements. This is something that is always asked either as short or multichoice questions.
- Understand the various forces of interactions and how to draw the electronic configurations of various elements (remember to practice the exceptions as well).
- Know the definitions of the Aufbau principle, Hund’s rule and the Pauli exclusion principle.
- Know how to draw the Lewis dot structure for elements and what isotopes are.
- Understand how to interpret various analytical techniques, one of these (especially spectroscopy) can be asked as a long answer question.
- Practice how to calculate the enthalpy of reactions, as one question is always asked on this topic. Know the difference between endo and exothermic reactions.
- Stoichiometry: Master the art of balancing chemical equations and performing mole calculations. These skills are fundamental for many aspects of chemistry.
UNIT 2: Molecular interactions and reactions
- Understand the VSPER theory and focus on learning how to calculate vapour pressure, melting point, boiling point and solubility, and understanding the nature and strength of intermolecular forces, including dispersion forces, dipole-dipole attractions
- Focus on describing and learning the defining of the various chromatography techniques.
- Know how to calculate the mass of chemicals and/or the volume of a gas and understand the relationship between the volume, number of moles and molar volume at standard temperature and pressure (STP).
- Pay attention to how acids and bases react with each other. Do not forget to practice pH problems.
- Be able to describe, construct, and interpret graphs on the rates of reactions (Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves for reactions with and without catalysts)
UNIT 3: Equilibrium, acids, and redox reactions
- Chemical Equilibrium: Understand Le Chatelier’s principle and how to manipulate conditions to shift equilibrium in a desired direction.
- Be able to describe the properties of acids and bases.
- Be able to use the Kw and pH formula.
- Be able to calculate the dissociation constants of acids and bases
- describing the Bronsted-lowry model.
- Be able to sketch and interpret the general shapes of graphs of pH against volume (titration curves) involving strong and weak acids and bases.
- Be able to identify the oxidizing and reducing agent in a redox reaction.
- Be able to determine the oxidizing state of an atom.
- Understand what an electrochemical cell, galvanic cell and standard electrode potential of a cell is.
- Be able to calculate electrode potential and draw cells in order to identify the anode and cathode.
UNIT 4: Structure, synthesis and design
Organic Chemistry: Focus on understanding the structure and naming of organic compounds. Practice drawing structures and identifying functional groups. Always remember the general formulas for alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes. It can help you build or draw the chemical structure of a compound when you do not remember it straight away. Organic chemistry also requires a lot of practice with remembering the types of bonds and naming the structure without missing a detail or confusing which side to start counting the carbons. This concept can also be useful in future tertiary science studies as organic chemistry is one of the most studied branches of chemistry.
- Be able to identify alkenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, haloalkanes, esters, nitriles, amines, and amides and draw their basic structural formulas.
- Be able to understand and determine Organic reactions and reaction pathways (substitution, addition, elimination).
(Obtained from this source)
Make sure to understand and memorize this pathway diagram. It is one of the most important things you will come across.
- Describe and be able to explain the primary, secondary (α-helix and β-pleated sheets), tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins.
- Do not ignore green chemistry and be able to describe how addition polymers can be produced from their monomers including polyethene (LDPE and HDPE), polypropene and polytetrafluorethene.
- Know the condensation reaction of monosaccharides to form disaccharides and polysaccharides.
This blog was written by our Chemistry and Biology tutor, Hoshini. You can find her profile here.