What are the skills that your child should work on this holiday to do well for Chemistry?
1) Note-taking skills
Most students listen passively to the teacher throughout the lesson, assuming that they have understood everything the teacher said. From my experience questioning students about what they have learnt in school, many would have forgotten most of what was taught in class. This includes students who take pride in their studies. By jotting down points and annotating school notes, it makes it easier to recall and remember the important concepts taught during class.
2) Reviewing skills
Use the annotated school notes to help you recall and revise daily. You can add in more information, highlight the important concepts, colour code all key phrases and put a “?” near concepts that you are unsure of to clarify with your tutor during the next tuition session.
Reviewing DOES NOT mean rewriting of notes. This is the most time-consuming way to study and does not help to reinforce one’s understanding of concepts. However, you can reorganize the concepts using tables or flowcharts so that you are actively recalling concepts during the review stage.
3) Application skills
Many students spend most of their study time memorising definitions and concepts. This may help to pass the exam but it is insufficient to do well as application skills must be trained. To do well, you must be able to understand the requirement of the question and know which concept to “pull and plug” into the answer. Active retrieval of concepts from memory helps to retain important concepts in the memory space for a longer time as you repetitively recall and apply the same concepts in different context. It is also crucial to know the right keywords and phrases to apply using template answers to score full marks. As you practise questions, you gain experience and will slowly be able to identify the common types of frequently asked questions and formula for each topic.
Always check your answer with the model answers given by your school teacher or tutor. Do not use the model answers from the publishers as they are often not written in the appropriate examination answering style.
4) Learning from mistakes
It is important to learn from mistakes and avoid making the same mistakes in the exams. Do not feel discouraged when you make mistakes while doing school assignments or practising the ten-year-series. If you are not making mistakes, the difficulty of the questions is not pitched at the right level and you are not learning.