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A Complete Guide to IB Chemistry (HL & SL) in Singapore by Our Top IB Chemistry Tutors

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The Complete Guide to IB Chemistry (HL/SL) in Singapore

In general, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is an education programme that aims to foster creativity and imagination in students and develop them into genuinely global 21st-century citizens. It comprises of IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), and finally, IB Diploma Programme (IBDP). As a matter of fact, the culminating IBDP is an academically challenging and balanced educational programme that prepares students for university life and beyond. Hence, it is recognised as one of the top curricula in international education, IBDP nurtures its students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitude to excel. 

Students in IBDP will study a total of six subjects chosen from these six subject groups;

  1. Studies in language and literature, 
  2. Language acquisition,
  3. Individuals and societies,
  4. Experimental science,
  5. Mathematics,
  6. Arts.

Furthermore, throughout the two-year course, IBDP students will also have to complete three core elements; Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, and Creativity Action Service (CAS). In MindFlex, we understand that IBDP can be an intense and challenging journey for students. Thus, we have put forward a complete guide to IB Chemistry with all the necessary tips and resources that you need to know!

1. An Overview to IB Chemistry

Group 4, also known as experimental science, is designed to help IBDP students know and scope to think critically about the world we live in. They offer subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Physics to subjects that encompass more technical courses such as Computer Science etc. In IBDP, IB Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It allows students to develop a broader range of practical skills and increase their use of mathematics. The course is available in both standard level (SL) and higher level (HL), allowing students to decide if they would like to take IB Chemistry as their major subject. 

IB Chemistry is strenuous and challenging by any standard, touting as one of the most rigorous subjects. With each subject contributing greatly to the overall end result, students should score 7 out of 7 in their IB Chemistry grades. However, as long as students are consistent and determined in their studies, nothing is impossible. Here at MindFlex’s Top Chemistry Tuition, we have 500+ experienced IB Chemistry Tutors equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to help you or your child in their IB Chemistry journey. Engage MindFlex’s IB Chemistry Tuition today!

2. Difference between SL (Standard Level) and HL (Higher Level) in IB Chemistry

In IBDP, students are to take six subjects; three HL and three SL over two years. For IB Chemistry, students decide if they would like to take up the subject as HL or SL, depending on their level of interest and what they would like to study in higher education. However, making any decision, it is wise to first know the difference between SL and HL IB Chemistry. The differences lie mainly in the amount of content to study and how much material will be covered. The differences are as follows:

  1. As the name suggests, HL is more advanced compared to SL. More materials are covered, and more teaching hours will be spent to teach students on the additional higher-level topics. In both Sl and HL IB Chemistry, students generally will learn up to 11 topics. However, those taking HL will learn an additional ten topics. 
  2. In terms of Assessment for Paper 1, students are required to complete 30 MCQ for SL and 40 MCQ for HL
  3. For practical work, SL has 40 hours of material, whereas HL has a total of 60 hours of material to be covered.

Topics Covered for SL and HL IB Chemistry 

Topics for IB Chemistry

Topics for IB Chemistry

3. Objectives of IB Chemistry

3. Objectives of IB Chemistry 

According to the IB Curriculum, IB Chemistry aims to develop interpersonal and information technology skills in students essential in life in the 21st century. Through IB Chemistry, students would be aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. In addition, in IB Chemistry, some skills that students will be exposed to are manipulative skills, investigations, data collection, analysis of results, and evaluation, allowing students to acquire a body of knowledge, methods, and techniques that characterize science and technology. 

As such, the following objectives for IB Chemistry intend to develop a broader range of experimental and practical scientific skills in students:

3.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
  • facts, concepts, and terminology 
  • methodologies and techniques 
  • communicating scientific information
3.2 Apply:
  • facts, concepts, and terminology 
  • methodologies and techniques 
  • methods of communicating scientific information
3.3 Formulate, analyse and evaluate:
  • hypotheses, research questions and predictions 
  • methodologies and techniques 
  • primary and secondary data 
  • scientific explanations
3.4 Demonstrate the appropriate research, experimental, and personal skills necessary to carry out insightful and ethical investigations.

4. IB Chemistry Exam Format

The IB Chemistry Assessment comprises of two components for both SL and HL :

Internal Assessment – 20% (Individual Investigation)

The Internal Assessment for IB Chemistry involves a single individual investigation where students will be exposed to hands-on approach, use of data-bases, modelling, simulation or a hybrid. Additionally, the internal assessment will take approximately 10 hours and the write-up should be about 6-12 pages long and will be assessed on these five criteria: Personal Engagement, Exploration, Analysis, Evaluation, and Communication. 

External Assessment – 80%

In the external assessment, there is a total of three written papers – 1) Paper 1 (Multiple Choice), 2) Paper 2 (Short-Answer and Extended Response Questions), and 3) Paper 3 (Data-Based/Experimental Work Questions, Short-Answer and Extended Response Questions on one of the four options). 

4.1 Standard Level (SL)

Paper 1 (45 min, 30 marks, 20% Weightage)

Students have to complete 30 multiple-choice questions on core, about 15 of which are common with HL. The questions on paper 1 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3. Furthermore, the use of calculators is not permitted and students will be provided with a periodic table. However, no marks will be deducted for incorrect answers.

Paper 2 (1 Hour 15 min, 50 marks, 40% Weightage)

In this paper, students are required to complete all short-answer and extended-response questions on core material. The questions on paper 2 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3.

Paper 3 (1 Hour, 35 marks, 20% Weightage)

This paper will have questions on core and SL option material. It comprises two sections: Section A and Section B. Firstly in Section A, students will be tested on one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work. Secondly, section B students are required to answer all short-answer and extended-response questions from one option. The questions on paper 3 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3.

4.2 Higher Level (HL)

Paper 1 (1 Hour, 40 marks, 20% Weightage)

Students have to complete 40 multiple-choice questions on core and AHL, about 15 of which are common with SL. The questions on paper 1 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3. However, the use of calculators is not permitted and students will be provided with a periodic table. Similarly, no marks will be deducted for incorrect answers.

Paper 2 (2 Hours 15 min, 95 marks, 36% Weightage)

In this paper, students are required to answer all short-answer and extended-response questions on the core and AHL material. The questions on paper 2 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3.

Paper 3 (1 Hour 15 min, 45 marks, 24% Weightage)

This paper will have questions on core, AHL and option material. It comprises two sections: Section A and Section B. Firstly, in Section A, students will be tested on one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work. Secondly, in Section B, students are required to answer all short-answer and extended-response questions from one option. The questions on paper 3 test assessment objectives 1, 2 and 3.

More information can be found under the IB Chemistry Syllabus.

IB Chemistry At a Glance

A Complete Guide to the IB Chemistry Syllabus.

5. Challenges Faced in IB Chemistry

5.1.1 Lack of Ideas for Internal Assessment 

One of the biggest challenges that students face in IB Chemistry is coming up with an idea for their internal Assessment. In the internal Assessment, students are expected to develop a research question that involves personal engagement. This would mean that students have to find an idea that is not simply found from the textbook but should be something the student is personally engaged with. This is proven to be a challenge to students as they cannot relate IB Chemistry topics to a real-world situation or problem that they can investigate.

5.1.2 Content Overload 

In IB Chemistry, students are required to learn 11 topics, and those who take HL IB Chemistry are required to cover additional ten topics, bringing it to a total of 21. Not to mention, the overwhelming amount of content that students have to cover for IB Chemistry can be a struggle. Besides, students sometimes have a habit of avoiding topics they cannot comprehend in class. Hence, this would lead to a build-up of misconceptions and a weak foundation in the basic chemistry concepts. Furthermore, when students do not seek additional assistance in class or out of class on the topics they are struggling in, it will take an even longer time to grasp the more advanced topics. 

5.1.3 Poor Time Management 

Another challenge that students seem to face in IB Chemistry is the lack of time available for them to study. This is sometimes due to their standard practice of waiting till the very last minute to revise their IB Chemistry topics. Despite the many topics that students have to know, many tend to procrastinate their revision only until a week or two before their IB Chemistry test or exam. One reason is probably because they think that the information they have memorised will stay fresh in their memory when they go for the examination.

However, with the seemingly high number of topics students need to master, it is impossible for them to understand and comprehend the concepts before any test or exam. As such, students are recommended to practice and master their topics as they learn them in class so that when it comes to revision, it will be more of a recap instead of studying from scratch.

6. IB Chemistry Tips and Resources

The challenges faced in IB Chemistry may seem overwhelming for students to handle. However, fret not, here at MindFlex, we have compiled a list of tips and resources that students can make use of to score for their IB Chemistry.  

6.1. IB Chemistry Tips

6.1.1 Build a Strong Foundation 

Regardless if you are taking SL or HL IB Chemistry, getting your basic foundation strong is essential if you want to have the edge over your peers and do well in the subject. As you progress into more advanced topics, the concepts will gradually become increasingly challenging and harder to understand. However, if you have a strong foundation in the basic Chemistry concepts, it is safe to say that you would not have to worry about trying to grasp the more advanced topics as the topics usually build on one another. 

6.1.2 Plan your time effectively

Secondly, planning your time is effectively is important. Time management in and out of exams is a crucial skill that one must-have. Before the exams, make sure that you have given yourself sufficient time for revision. For example, you can manage your time well by coming up with a schedule that includes the duration for your revision and between breaks. For example, it would be ideal to give yourself at least a 10-minute break for every 1.5-2 hours of revision. 

Similarly, plan a schedule that you know would give you plenty of time to prepare and complete the given IB Chemistry assignments. For example, you can set a deadline for yourself to have enough time to check and amend any mistakes or errors made in your work. This would ensure that you remain organised, which can help you put everything into perspective and effectively meet deadlines. During the exams, students sometimes struggle to complete their papers due to the lack of time management. As such, it is equally important for you to set aside time limits and dedicate to it strictly to ensure that you are within the time frame, reducing the chance of submitting incomplete work at the end of the paper.  

6.1.3 Communicate with your IB Chemistry teachers 

After class or after school, if you have the time, take the initiative to have a one-on-one meeting with your respective IB Chemistry teacher. For instance, use the opportunity to engage with them during the sessions to discuss the areas of difficulty in your academics. In addition, you can also take the time to clarify and address any concerns that you may have regarding IB Chemistry and its syllabus. 

6.1.4 Revise regularly and consistently

The IB Chemistry is full of copious topics and projects that require more than a day or week’s worth of work. Cramming your revision is probably not a good idea, no matter how good you are at it. Likewise, waiting to start your revision only when the exams are near will just create unnecessary stress for yourself. Instead, be consistent in your revision and do it regularly. For example, spend at least 30 minutes to an hour each day to summarise and recap on the IB Chemistry topics that you learnt in class that day. Revising sooner than later will help reduce your stress and anxiety and allows you to study at your own pace instead of staying up all night to finish your revision. 

6.1.5 Be familiar with the marking scheme before the exam

Before taking any tests or exams, students should note that they are to familiarise themselves with the marking scheme. By knowing the marking scheme, you know what the examiners require from you in your answers. In fact, it also prevents you from going off-topic in your answers and tells you the essential details and information you should include in your responses to get the total marks. So example, if you come across questions that require you to ‘Describe’ or ‘Explain’, by knowing the marking scheme, you will be clear on the points or details that you need to include in your answers that will allow you to score.

6.2. IB Physics Resources

Here, we have compiled our top 6 resources for your child to aid him/her in their IB Chemistry preparation.

6.2.1. IB Chemistry and Study Guide

This book is ideal for IB Chemistry students who are looking to practise questions and strengthen their learning. This revision guide book provides students with clear and concise explanations of the IB Chemistry topics and concepts. Besides, you will have access to revision notes along with some exam techniques that will help you tackle the exam questions.

6.2.2. IB Resources Repository for IB Chemistry

There are not many resources and practice papers available for IB Chemistry students for them to fully gain mastery and understanding of the skills and concepts required in each paper. However, in MindFlex, we have discovered that The IB Resources Repository contains a wealth of content including coveted past-year IB Chemistry papers that will contribute immensely in the students’ preparation for their IB Chemistry examination and Assessment.

Click here to access the IB Chemistry Practise Papers

Get access to free and useful IB Chemistry Practice Papers

Get access to free and useful IB Chemistry Practice Papers

6.2.3. StudyBlue

Studyblue is an online learning tool made especially for students. Available both in the website and mobile app form, it allows students to upload class study materials, create flashcards and study materials to share with users of the app. In addition, by promoting co-learning, students will significantly benefit from other users of the app.

Studyblue is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Use StudyBlue for a more efficient learning

Use StudyBlue for a more efficient learning

6.2.4. Evernote

Sometimes when you are studying or researching your IB Chemistry assignments, you may find yourself covering several platforms. However, with the use of Evernote, students can have all their notes and information from their research together in one place. It is a tool that syncs all the available information across different platforms such as computers and phones into one central platform that is easy to access. Hence, this would be very convenient and beneficial for students to keep their research information in order, presentation notes, study notes, etc. 

Use Evernote when you are studying for IB Chemistry!

Use Evernote when you are studying for IB Chemistry!

6.2.5. IB Chemistry Tuition

Nothing beats an extra pair of hands to guide your child in their learning. With over 30 different choices, MindFlex has collated a list of IB English Language and Literature Tuition Centres that can help your child achieve their desired grades. However, if you find that you or your child is struggling with IB Chemistry, it is evident that additional academic support is needed. Here at MindFlex, we have collated a list of IB Tuition Centres that can help you not only in IB Chemistry but other IB subjects as well!

6.2.6. MindFlex IB Chemistry Home Tutors

However, if tuition centres aren’t your cup of tea, why not try out MindFlex Home Tutoring? With over 500+ experienced IB Chemistry Tutors, MindFlex will ensure that students receive the proper guidance and aid needed in their IB Chemistry preparation. In addition, you can enjoy quality education at the comforts of your own home with MindFlex, and witness exemplary grade improvements!

7. Conclusion

In MindFlex, we understand the concerns that students have when it comes to doing well in IB Chemistry. Hence with its rigorous and academically challenging curriculum and syllabus, it is no wonder students struggle with the ability to cope. Doing well in IB Chemistry is not an easy feat, however, with MindFlex IB Chemistry Home Tutors, students will be able to feel more confident with the guidance from our competent tutors.

Our IB Chemistry Tutors are experienced as well as very well-versed in the expectations and syllabus of the IB Programme. After all, with years of experience in the IB field, our tutors are skilled in helping students build a good understanding of concepts and provide students a head start in the higher levels of education.  

Start your IB Chemistry journey with MindFlex today! 

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