What Makes A-Level Chemistry So Difficult?

If you’re taking A-Level Chemistry, you’ll probably accept, as do the majority of students, that A-Level H2 Chemistry is challenging, and you have good reason to be.

The definitions are difficult to grasp and require a lot of memorization.

The learning curve is steeply increasing.

This is entirely understandable.

After graduating from the top 20% of your O Level cohort, the syllabus has been made even more difficult to further distinguish among all of you.

There is a lot of memory work to do.

Chemical bonding, organic chemistry reactions, the periodic table, and other topics are covered in detail in many chapters.

Worse, you often have to rely on your memory work to answer the first question in a series of questions.

This type of data booklet will only benefit to a certain degree.

If you don’t get the first question correct, you’ll almost certainly squander the remaining points.

Organic chemistry

The study process becomes even more frustrating when you don’t know all of the chemical reactions that link one functional group to another.

If you forget the reagents or conditions for one or more reactions, questions like deductive forms will easily trip you up.

Furthermore, reagents and conditions that are effective in one reaction may not be effective in another.

Reagents with a specific purpose

Consider K2CrO7 or NaBH4.

They’re just good for oxidizing or reducing complex reactions.

Talk about insanity.

Polar molecules

What about discovering that polar molecules must have polar bonds to discover later that not all molecules with polar bonds must be polar?

The explanation for this is that all of the covalent bonds’ dipole moments will cancel out, resulting in zero net dipole moments.

This definition can be difficult to grasp for students who have not studied vectors.

I’m certain that researching polar bears would become more important as a result of this.

Here are eight suggestions for dealing with memory jobs.

Explanations that contradict each other

Not only are you confronted with a plethora of reasons to recall, but they also seem to contradict one another.

Notes from school can be perplexing.

Throughout my teaching years, I’ve observed how junior high students can often under-emphasize essential concepts while overloading with non-testable material.

Handling of Exceptions and Anomalies

However, all of the patterns you’ve been researching for so long aren’t necessarily smooth and pleasant.

There are many exceptions in A-Level Chemistry, and all of the hypotheses and models don’t always work out.

When this happens, scientists must figure out what’s going on and how to account for the kinks.

Configuration of Electronics

The electronic configuration 3d orbitals, for example, should be filled before 4s.

However, it turns out that we must fill in electrons for 4s before moving on to 3d.

You said, “Well, I’ll put up with that.”

Except when you realize you should be filling 3d5 4s1 instead of 3d4 4s2 for Cr and 3d9 4s2 instead of 3d10 4s1 for Cu, you start pulling your hair.

Deviation from the O Level

Specific terms in O Level chemistry syllabus can be overly simplistic or, at worst, deceptive due to the need to introduce chemistry to the general public.

Molecule shapes and dot-and-cross diagrams

You learned to draw dot and cross diagrams in O Level, in which pairs of electrons are drawn in fixed positions.

When A Level students are introduced to elements that can extend their octet structure and accommodate more than eight electrons, the idea of achieving a complete octet structure often perplexes them.

Furthermore, the concept of s, p, and d orbitals, each with their 3D structure, clashes with the 2D fixed electron dot and cross diagram.

Students are also taught how to determine molecules’ shape using the Valence Shell Electronic Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) theory in the A-Level.

What makes it more complicated is that the bond angle is not always consistent due to lone pair-lone pair repulsion > lone pair-bond pair repulsion > bond pair-bond pair repulsion.

You’ll understand what I’m talking about if you’ve been studying hard.

Acids and bases.

Instead, you’ve discovered that the acid description you studied in O Level is extremely restricted. It’s also unclear why compounds like NH3 are considered bases when no OH- is emitted.

It’s also the least up-to-date of the three concepts.

The Arrhenius theory, which you studied in O Level, was first proposed in 1884!

In 1923, both the Brnsted-Lowry and Lewis theories were suggested.