‘Che-mystery’ or ‘Che-misery’? I hold the latter belief. Originally, I didn’t want to take Chemistry in IB because I wasn’t great at understanding or applying Chemistry concepts. Nevertheless, there were some concepts that I was intrigued about.
I thought I was done with Chemistry for the rest of my life, until I had to choose my subjects. My parents urged me to take Chemistry HL because it would flexible for various applications for different university courses. Additionally, since I scored an A2 for Chemistry at the O levels, with hard work, they believed I could do it. So on that faithful day, I made the decision of choosing Chemistry over History- of which today I still have a tinge of regret for doing so.
Firstly, if the only reason why you should decide to take Chemistry HL is because it ‘opens more doors’ to diverse university courses, you should check on the university course you are aiming for first. Some courses do not require Chemistry! On the other hand, if you are tentatively unsure of what degree or career to pursue in the future, Chemistry HL may be a safe option to undertake as a subject as it is enables you with the knowledge and skill to pursue a wide range of careers. This is especially so for those interested in the general areas of Mathematics, Science and Technology.
Chemistry HL is definitely more demanding than Chemistry SL. The way the questions are structured, the content, the Internal Assessments etc. The truth is, every IB subject has its fair share of demands and all require consistent hard work. Chemistry HL was one subject I had to put in more effort for. With hard work and determination, it is possible to do well.
Coming from an ASP (Advanced Science Program) class, I saw my friends who could attain 92/95 for a Chemistry paper—with consistent and hard work, of course. If you love a certain subject, try it and let your innate passion and interest fuel your drive to study hard and excel in that subject!
Chemistry HL can be disheartening at times. Initially, every day for 1.5 weeks before exams I studied Chemistry but still ended up with a dismal Grade 3 during the Common Tests. This made me realise that practice is key in order to do well for Chemistry HL. At first, I just kept reading, highlighting and making notes with only some practice. Now, I find that it is better to always practice, because only then will one realise the areas one is weak or strong in. For the Promotional Examinations, I practiced the Chemistry FYS (Five Year Series) more and I improved to a Grade 5!
It is not impossible for someone who does not really like the subject and is slower in grasping chemistry concepts to improve. I’m definitely no expert in Chemistry but here is one piece of advice- start seeing the beauty of the subject and that would make you want to learn and study it more. You might as well enjoy what you do rather than to slave through what you don’t try to enjoy.
Chemistry HL is undoubtedly demanding. It requires weekly IA submissions and lab work, constant submission of worksheets and homework, quizzes and tests. It is normal to worry, but don’t worry too much—you can do it with sheer hard work and determination. Don’t short change yourself on this IB journey. Make the most out of it!
Kalista Wan (6.13) is from the graduating batch of 2016.