The O-Level (an abbreviation for Ordinary Level) is one of the most important certifications a student gets in their preparation for graduating. Understandably, this status also makes it one of the most stressful examinations to study for.
In this short and effective guide, we’ve compiled 7 game-changing tips to help you get the best marks possible on your O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam.
1. Know What You're Getting Yourself Into
Before you begin studying for the exam, make sure that you have a good understanding of what you're going to be tested on.
O-Level requirements can change from year to year, and this impacts the type of questions you'll be asked and the amount of studying that you'll have to do.
If you don't understand what is expected of you, then you won't be able to focus fully on your preparation.
It's often said that one minute of thinking can save you ten or more minutes of execution. This is perhaps an understatement for your O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam, since there is a tremendous amount of area to cover and not often a lot of time to do so. You need to be smart about what you study.
Go through your syllabus line by line and look for how often certain concepts come up. For example, do you see entropy mentioned five more times than enthalpy?
If so, that gives you a hint - that the concept of entropy is probably going to be (at least) a little bit more important than the concept of enthalpy.
Once you've made a cursory pass through your syllabus, take a second look, except this time add stars around concepts that you think are going to be over-represented on the exam.
Then, when you're planning your studying, spend two to three times as long on those topics as you spend on anything else. This is a simple way to prioritize your resources.
2. Put Your Mind Into A Comfortable State
You need to take time out of your day to relax before taking the exam.
This includes eating healthy food, exercising regularly, staying adequately social, and many other things that will help you feel relaxed during the exam itself.
One way you can do this is to take a deep breath prior to working on any difficult chemistry problem, or even consider a rudimentary form of meditation.
Meditation has been shown to improve concentration and mental flexibility, which are important qualities for any exam situation (especially chemistry).
The morning of, ensure that you've eaten a good breakfast and that your schedule is roughly the same as it normally is.
For example, if you wake up at 7:00am every morning, try to do so on the morning of your exam as well. Massive deviations can lead to stress, which can impact your memory and performance on tests like the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Whether it's chemistry, baseball, or riding a bike, there's no substitute for practice. The best way to improve your mark on the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam is by knowing a lot of chemistry, and being able to answer novel formulations of concepts that you've seen before.
There are many online resources available at the click of a button or a short Google search, but for convenience, we've also included a few below.
Try your best to solve them without looking at the solution - this will help improve your memory of relevant concepts and allow you to exercise your brain. Once you're done, use the solutions to check and see if there's any way you might improve.
Q1: The combustion of wood is
D) None of the above
A1: Exothermic (B).
Explanation: Remember that exothermic reactions release energy, often in the form of light, sound, or heat. The combustion of wood (e.g, fire) gives off all three, making it a highly exothermic reaction.
Q2: How many protons are there in a neutral atom of Carbon-12?
A2: 6. Neutral Carbon-12 has 6 neutrons and a weight of twelve, so the equation numProtons + numNeutrons = weight can be substituted for numProtons + 6 = 12; 12-6 = numProtons.
Q3: Define oxidation & reduction in terms of the gain and loss of electrons.
A3: Oxidation refers to the loss of electrons, which represents an increase in the oxidation state of an atom. Reduction refers to the gain of electrons, which represents a decrease in the oxidation state of an atom.
To get more practice, you can download past year exam papers from websites like this.
3. Make Sure You Have All Your Supplies On Hand
You should bring all of your supplies with you to school (including pens and paper) so that you don't forget anything during the exam.
Most syllabi and official requirements will include accepted pencils, pens, rulers, calculators, and so on - make sure to stock up well in advance of the actual test date itself.
I always like to carry some extra batteries for my calculator as well, just in case there are any last-second power failures during the exam (or my calculator stops working).
Additionally, bring some extra paper just in case - sometimes, exams will allow you to use scratch to help formulate answers (this changes from year to year, though, so it may not be valid for your iteration of the exam. Check with the official requirements first!)
4. Check To See If Your Answers Are Acceptable
During The Exam, Make Sure To Double Check Your Answers!
Before handing in your completed test, always make sure to double check your answers after you're complete.
Often at times, I see people hand in their exam well before the end of the exam period. But why would you cut yourself off if you don't need to?
Treat the time that you're given as a resource, and try to expend it as efficiently as possible in pursuit of your goal (a high mark on the exam).
This may seem like common sense, but it's easy to forget when you're two hours into a four hour exam, and have spent most of it focusing on highly specific, esoteric problems.
Once you're completed, take the time to go back over everything and make sure that you haven't made any mistakes.
It can be as quick as a ten-second pass through each question, or as detailed as you manually calculating each answer again - determine which approach to take depending on how confident you are in your final answer.
And if there are any minor mistakes that you've made, make sure to erase them completely or cross them out as clearly as possible so that it's easier for the one grading the exam to understand.
Additionally, if you feel that something is wrong with your solution, then write down what you think the problem might look like and explain in detail exactly how you came up with it.
This way, if there are partial marks to be had, your graders and reviewers will have more insight into your thought process (so you may be able to scrape a few extra points!)
5. Get A Good Night's Sleep
The night before the exam, it's important that you get a good night's sleep so that you're well-rested and ready to go.
During this time, it's important that you avoid stressful situations and attempt to get your mind off of things as much as possible.
A tip I always liked to use is, the night before a big test or practical exam, re-watch one of your favorite films or maybe even go on social media for a while.
This de-stressing (or just getting your mind off the looming exam) may seem counterintuitive, but it's important to keep your mind fresh and efficient the day of, and the best way you can do this is with a full nights rest.
6. Don't Hesitate To Ask For Help
Most teachers and school staff are aware of the importance of this test, so they'll do their best to explain things to you clearly and in a way that's easy to understand.
If there's still something that you don't quite get, don't be afraid to ask them to explain it again.
It's much better to take the time now to make sure you fully understand a topic, than to get it wrong during the test and lose valuable points as a result.
On top of that, before the test itself, there are also many teachers, tutors, and preparation schools that can help you if you're struggling.
For example, my old school used to offer weekly optional review sessions during lunch where the teachers (and sometimes special guest professors) would come in to give a quick presentation on material that would be covered on the upcoming test.
Most people that went to the optional review sessions scored 90% or higher. If your school has something similar, it wouldn't hurt to go and take advantage of this resource!
Watch a video: 2018 Science (Chemistry) Practical O level by SGCitycollege
7. Arrive At The Exam With Time To Spare
Finally, when it comes time to take the exam itself, be sure to arrive at school with time to spare. If you arrive too early, you'll have to wait around for the exam to start, which can just make you more nervous.
However, if you arrive too late, you might not have enough time to go to the bathroom or have a quick snack before the test starts.
Aim to be there with around 10-15 minutes to spare - just enough time to settle in and calm your mind, but not enough to get nervous and start tripping up.
Systems, adequate practice, and attitude. These three things will go incredibly far towards helping you get a fantastic mark on the O-Level Chemistry Paper 3 Practical Exam as well as many other exams in your future academic career.
We sincerely hope that the tips we mentioned in this article help you, and wish you the best of luck on your exam!