If you're taking the IB (International Baccalaureate) in Singapore, you know how much time and effort goes into studying for your classes.
Unfortunately, IB Chemistry SL/HL is no exception.
Touted as one of the most rigorous chemistry courses currently available to students, both IB Chemistry SL and IB Chemistry HL usually demand nothing less than perfection from their students, and require students to possess a wide array of knowledge areas to successfully pass.
But we're not just interested in passing courses - we're interested in scoring the maximum 7 points. To do so, we need to take a directed approach to preparation that involves both the mind and the body, and takes advantage of your natural propensity to succeed.
In this guide, we'll show you 8 Ways to Score a 7 for IB Chemistry SL/HL.
By the time you're done reading, you'll be prepared for IB Chemistry SL/HL and have a strong understanding of what will be asked of you.
1. Build a Strong Knowledge Foundation
One of the first things you should do when preparing for IB Chemistry SL/HL is build a solid foundation in basic chemistry concepts.
This includes knowing what atoms are, what they're made of (the basic building blocks being the proton, neutron, and electron), how atomic weights work, and how to read a periodic table.
Basic, foundational concepts are important when building knowledge not just because you need to use them often while solving problems, but because understanding them deeply significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to learn other, more advanced subjects.
That's right - you can actually make it much easier on yourself later by studying the basics just a little more at the beginning.
Once you understand basic principles of atoms, molecules, chemical bonds, and so on, you'll find that chemistry is really just applied commonsense reasoning.
Larger concepts build from simpler, smaller ones that can be understood quickly and effectively.
Below is a list of some foundational topics you should try to learn before attempting anything more advanced:
1. Atomic building blocks: protons, neutrons, electrons
2. Atomic weight, mass, & reading the periodic table
3. Simple covalent chemical bonds
4. Simple non covalent chemical bonds
6. Mixtures and solutions
7. Avogadro's number and moles
Understanding the above topics lead to practically every other concept in chemistry, and are foundational to easily scoring a 7.
2. Study Consistently
It's no surprise that one of the top recommendations for scoring a 7 on the IB Chemistry SL/HL is being consistent in studying.
It's also no surprise that many people struggle with this aspect of IB Chemistry SL/HL.
The problem is, there isn't a magic formula for figuring out how to structure your studying; you have to figure out what works best for you and how much information you can retain.
On average, we recommend studying for between thirty minutes to one hour per day, 6 days per week.
A day off is important and necessary, but 6 days in a row allows you to build up momentum and stay ahead of the curve.
Consistent, diligent studying also means you won't have to cram come test time - instead, you'll be prepared year-round for homework assignments, quizzes, and the upcoming exam.
Looking for other recommendations? Here's some advice:
- Get an hour or two head start on schoolwork each day so you're not always playing catch-up.
- Always do homework as soon as possible after getting it from your teacher. Even if it seems easy, you'll thank yourself later for just getting it out of the way and having more time to learn the really difficult stuff (and, you know, relax!)
3. Stay Hydrated
Something most people don't take into consideration when studying is their own health.
It's easy to forget that you have to take breaks from staring at textbooks, slides, and whiteboards in order to maintain your own well-being.
Make sure to stay hydrated every so often by drinking a big glass (or two or three...) of water.
Staying hydrated not only keeps your brain working at full capacity, it also makes you fatigue-resistant and able to get more effective studying in to your routine.
This means you have more time for other topics as well as being able to relax. Who doesn't like that?
4. Nutrition & Exercise
Another pair of necessities for a healthy brain are nutrition and exercise.
The energy you get from nutritious food fuels your brain to be more alert and able to retain more information.
We recommend eating something with a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins about two to three hours before you begin studying.
Additionally, on test day, make sure that you eat a full, balanced breakfast, and don’t be afraid to bring snacks for midway through the exam (as long as they’re allowed). I always bring a small, dark chocolate bar for a quick refuel of energy.
5. Practice Solving Problems
The most important tip on this list is practicing practical chemistry problems.
Since scoring a 7 on IB Chemistry SL/HL literally depends only on your ability to solve problems, you want to make sure that active problem-solving is front-and-center in your studying regime.
We've compiled a few choice questions below to get you started.
Q1: Find the mass of 2.50 moles of Ca(OH)2
A1: To solve, we find the molar mass of Calcium hydroxide and multiply by 2.50 mol. The molar mass of Ca(OH)2 is 1 x 40.08 (Ca) + 2 * 16.00 (O) + 2 * 2.02 (H) = 74.10. Multiplying 74.10g/mol by 2.50mol gives us 185.25 g.
Q2: Which is the best answer for why atomic radius decreases as you go across the periodic table? (Electronegativity decreases | Mass increases | Ionization energy increases | Atomic number increases)
A2: Atomic number increases
Q3: If the temperature of a chemical reaction is increased, what is the most likely outcome?
A3: Reaction speed increases.
Q4: You have 1.00 L of a liquid with a density of 1.10 g/mL. What is the mass of the liquid?
A4: To find the mass, we multiply volume (1000mL) by density (1.10g/mL) to get 1100g or 1.1kg.
These questions are intended to get your brain back in chemistry mode, but they just scratch the surface. For real evaluation-style questions, consult the questionbank or problem sets given to you by your teacher.
6. Get Enough Sleep
As with most things in life, we often fail to see the benefits of sleep until we're deprived of it. With a hectic class schedule and piles of homework you may be tempted to stay awake as late as you can to get more work done.
Forgetting, of course, that sleep is actually essential for retaining information and keeping your brain active. There is a reason "cramming" doesn't work too well.
Set your alarm for 8 hours and get some sleep!
It's actually great for your brain to take a break from memorization every now and then. Sleep deprivation is a common theme among overworked and burnt-out students and we don't want that to happen to you.
7. Show Up Early To Exams
Arrive at least twenty minutes before the test.
Not only do you get your name signed in, but you also get to your seat and review your notes one more time.
Any more than twenty minutes is pointless though as the added stress of sitting in your seat waiting usually cancels out any benefits you'll get from last second review.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but showing up late to an exam—for whatever reason—only provides further stress and throws off your performance level.
Hurrying through the exam just to make sure you finish on time is also not the best idea as it hampers your ability to answer questions correctly.
Do yourself a favor and set multiple alarms on test day. It just isn’t worth it not to show up early.
8. Stay Social
Socialize with other students and offer your help in solving problems. Sometimes, teaching is the best way to learn.
Participating and contributing in class discussions keeps you engaged and aware of what is happening in the class.
You can also take part in after-school study groups, enrichment centres or private tuition to further enhance your learning capabilities.
It also helps you to retain information since answering questions verbally requires different areas of the brain—used in conjunction—compared to simply reading off a page.
Making friends in your classes not only relieves stress and enriches your college experience, but it can actually raise your grades as studies show that people with strong social relationships are less susceptible to depression—a major cause of lower grades!
Doing well in IB isn’t easy, but as long as you’re committed, diligent, and bright, you can learn an incredible amount and have a fun time doing it.
We sincerely hope that these 8 tips helped you in preparing to score a 7 in IB Chemistry SL/HL. Thank you for reading, and we wish you the best of luck in your preparations!
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