Chemistry HL

Laboratory glass with atom model on the white.

I was asked to do up a small report about what are the things that students should expect when it comes to Chemistry HL. Most students that I know of will do Chemistry HL for the sake of getting into Medicine. Some will do it as part of their hybrid course, and even fewer people would do Chemistry HL for the love of Chemistry. Regardless I decided to sum of some of the important points.

  1. The syllabus is changing. And it may be a bit harder…

Ask any of the people who take the 2015 exam about the “Rydberg formula” and they won’t know what you’re talking about, but it is coming out in your exam. -Old

What does this mean for you? Lots of what your seniors may say about Chemistry, especially HL, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Notes that you get from seniors may not cover everything that you learn as well. Be aware.

  1. Work really hard. But don’t mug.

Some people equate the two. This is one of the deadliest mistakes in learning Chemistry HL in my opinion. Even more deadly if you are going to take the 2016 exam.  Based on the amount of content covered under organic chemistry alone, it seems that memorising is a pretty hard strategy to rely on.

PLEASE WORK HARD. Look at answer keys if you understand the concept because sometimes it’s the phrasing of your open ended answer that kills.


Read your stuff before coming to class. Use google to help, just type whatever is going to be taught on google then find all the results and then learn by your own. You don’t need a teacher for everything. This is my most valuable piece of advice to you.  Don’t waste time being confused in class, just kill it once you step in by reading up.

      4. Understand

This syllabus is actually like the A level one and if you don’t like the change don’t take Chemistry HL. It is going to require you to understand what you learn; pure memorizing is not going to help that much. Always ask questions deep down. Find out the answers from your teacher, or just google it conveniently.  Make sure you know every detail before you move on. This is time consuming, and that’s why I say you start early!!! You can always ask me on facebook too.

5.  Visualize the molecule/atom/particle

This may sound lame but I visualize molecules as a bunch of balls connected together with glue called electrons. In organic chemistry, you are going to have to visualize a lot of things like resonance, structure of the molecules, stereoisomerism and many more. One of the trickiest would be stereoisomerism but the excitement will come don’t worry you must try it to feel it 🙂

You will definitely need a lot of passion to do this subject and this syllabus even though the work may be tiring at times. While the above statements may sound harsh, the subject is definitely one you can overcome if you do put in effort. And the syllabus is quite an enriching one so you’ll definitely gain from it! So do work hard for this subject, especially since it’s a necessity for Medicine/Chemistry/Pharmacy as well as a whole host of chemistry-related courses!

Tan Gian Yon (6.12) is from the graduating batch of 2015. He studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and Higher Level.

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