New H2 Chemistry Syllabus (Subject Code 9729)
The recent changes in JC syllabus for students taking A Levels in 2017 have definitely been a concern for J1 students and parents. How different is the new H2 Chemistry Syllabus (Subject Code 9729) from the old one (Subject Code 9647), and how should students prepare themselves to tackle this new syllabus?
Changes in Scheme of Assessment
Paper 1 (MCQ)
Students used to answer 40 MCQ in 1 hour. In the new syllabus the number of questions is reduced to 30 MCQ while the duration remains the same at 1 hour. Weightage of Paper 1 is reduced from 20% to 15%.
The change in Paper 1 is quite surprising given that there has never been any changes to Paper 1 for the past few revisions in JC Chemistry Syllabus! It is likely the questions would be more challenging as students are now allocated more time per question.
Paper 2 (Structured and Data-based Question)
Planning Question in Paper 2 has been removed and shifted to Paper 4. The format of Paper 2 remains unchanged with a number of structured and data-based questions. The number of marks allocated to data-based questions is increased from 15-20 marks to 20-25 marks. Weightage of Paper 2 is increased from 25% to 30%.
Data-based questions are to test higher order thinking and application skills hence an increase in marks allocated for data-based questions suggests that Paper 2 is expected to be slightly more challenging than before.
Paper 3 (Free Response Question)
In the old syllabus students need to attempt 4 out of 5 questions. Each question is 20 marks. In the new syllabus Paper 3 is divided into two sections. Section A consists of 3 to 4 compulsory questions worth 60 marks, while in Section B students need to attempt 1 out of 2 questions worth 20 marks.
Total marks remain unchanged at 80 marks, weightage remains the same at 35%.
Previously students would have to spend a significant amount of time to look through all 5 questions and decide which 4 questions to attempt. The fear of choosing the wrong questions to attempt is real, as each question is worth 20 marks! In the new syllabus it would be a much more straightforward issue to look through 2 questions and choose 1 question to attempt.
Paper 4 (Practical)
The most significant change in the new syllabus is the removal of School-based Science Practical Assessment (SPA), where students take one Practical Exam in JC1 Term 3, one Practical Exam in JC2 Term 2, and one Planning Question which is embedded in Paper 2. In the new syllabus, students will just sit for Paper 4, a combined Practical Examination during A Levels. Weightage of Paper 4 remains unchanged at 20%.
Previously SPA spreads out the weightage of 20% over two practical exams and one planning question in Paper 2. Students usually do very well for SPA as teachers have adequate time to prepare students for the practical exams. Now that there is a combined Practical Exam, there would be more stress for the students as the topic tested is unknown and all the 20% weightage falls on Paper 4.
Changes in Subject Content
Most of the H2 Content remains unchanged with just a few minor learning outcomes added and removed in various topics.
The most significant change is in Inorganic Chemistry. "Group II and VII Elements" are now referred to as "Group 2 and 17 Elements" respectively, and the topics of Periodicity, Group 2 and Group 17 Elements are combined, with a few learning outcomes removed from Group 2 and Group 17 Elements.
The next most significant change is the removal of Proteins from Organic Chemistry. (No more Biology in H2 Chemistry. Hurray!)
The new syllabus is repackaged into "Core Ideas" and "Extension Topics", but the topics and content remains largely unchanged (around 90%). There are no new major topics introduced, and no existing topics are removed.
If you are told that past year papers and 5-year series are no longer useful for you, don't be fooled! You can still use existing resources (such as guide books, assessment books, lecture notes, past year prelim papers, etc) for the old syllabus as most of the content are still relevant in the new syllabus. In my opinion the "change" in syllabus is largely for aesthetic purposes and there is no need to panic or feel helpless.
As usual the best method to get good results is to be consistent in your efforts starting from JC1 Day 1. Hopefully I have given you a better idea on what to expect for the new syllabus. All the best for your H2 Chemistry!
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