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Chemical Bonding is one of the most important fundamental topics in O-Level Chemistry (and other equivalent Basic Chemistry

syllabus). It is linked to many other topics in Chemistry. However, many students are not aware of it and take them very lightly. Lets check out a question that was emailed to me by one of the student that read this blog.
Hi I just want to clarify whether the explanation is correct. Q) Explain why graphite has a lower melting point than diamond. (1 mark). The answer is Graphite has fewer covalent bonds than Diamond. What about this answer: Graphite has weak van der wals forces between the layers. Lesser energy is required to overcome such forces. As a result, it has a lower melting point than diamond. Is this answer acceptable? From my own understanding, diamond has 4 covalent bonds between the carbon atoms while graphite has 3 covalent bonds between the carbon atoms and weak van der wals forces. More energy is required to break the extra covalent bond in diamond than the weak van der wals forces between the layers of atoms in graphite. Regards Weijie

The suggested answer Graphite has fewer covalent bonds than Diamond. is INCORRECT and is one of the common mistakes made by students batch after batch every year. Not sure where he found this suggested answer though. Weijie is correct in his own suggested answer. =) Graphite are made up of layers of hexagonal rings that are held together by weak intermolecular van der Waals forces of attraction. Lesser energy is required to overcome such weak forces. As a result, it has a lower melting point than diamond which is made of carbon atoms that are covalently bonded strongly together to form an extensive 3-D

network with tetrahedral arrrangement. A large amount of energy is required to break these strong covalent bonds. Tips: Covalent Bonds (an intramolecular bond) is much stronger than van der Waals forces (an intermolecular bond) Remember to master this topic on Chemical Bonding if you want to excel in Chemistry. : )
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O-Level Chemistry: Collection of Questions from my Chemistry Students

Written on October 30, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Guidebooks, Chemistry Notes & Tips 2 Comments

Note: For Singapore GCE O-Level Pure Chemistry Combine Science (Chemistry) students that are taking exams this coming week Following are some quick questions that my O-Level Chemistry students asked me last two days as they revise their work and need to clarify some doubts before their exams. I thought it would be great to share with all my readers (especially if you are one of those going for the exam also). Questions are posted in BLACK while my suggested answers / comments are posted in BLUE. If you find the post useful to your friends, feel free to share the link with them. =) Questions from Elizabeth: Hi Mr Chua, I have 21 questions for you, could you kindly respond accordingly? Thanks ((: 1) What is the precision of measuring cylinder & pipette? Measuring cylinder is to 1 cm3 accuracy.

Pipette normally is not used for measurement. Instead it is used to transfer specific volume of liquid/solution. E.g 10 cm3, 25 cm3, 50 cm3, etc. 2) What exactly is calcium chloride? It is an ionic compound / salt. 3) Is metal sulphate a salt? Yes. Metal sulfate is a general term. So many examples you can easily think of are: Sodium sulfate, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, etc. They are all ionic compound / salt. 4) During Os, for the test for sulphate, do I write: -add nitric acid, then barium nitrate OR -add acidified barium nitrate? Both can. And you will see either form in the questions in O-Levels. Adding nitric acid means to acidify barium nitrate solution. 5) To test for chlorine, do I use damp litmus paper OR damp blue litmus paper? Given a choice, we would prefer to write damp blue litmus paper. It turns from blue to red and then bleached. 6) What exactly happens when liquid freezes? Liquid state changes to solid state. Refer to Kinetic Particle Theory topic to understand how the ARRANGEMENT and MOVEMENT changes from L to S state. 7) What is the definition of volatile? It refers to liquid that easily changes to gaseous state at room temperature. E.g. Ethanol in perfume. Sometimes, they apply it to solids that sublimes also. E.g. Solid iodine sublimes to become gaseous iodine at room temperature.

9) Does concentration affect cations? Dont understand this question. 10) For Os,are these the only soluble hydroxides we need to knowZinc, Aluminium & Potassium? We talked about this before. I disagree with your answer above. We usually remember Group I metal hydroxides are soluble in water (NaOH, KOH, LiOH) as well as Ba(OH)2 for Group II metal hydroxides. Ca(OH)2 is sparingly soluble. Zinc hydroxide and Alumnium hydroxide are INSOLUBLE! Refer to QA, test for Cations. 11) What does energy level on the energy profile diagram represent? It shows 3 things. 1. Reactants higher or lower energy than Products 2. Enthalpy change is negative or positive 3. Presence of Activation Energy 12) In exo reactions, why do products have lower energy? In EXO, enthalpy change is NEGATIVE. Refer to the formula of: Enthalpy Changes = HB-B + HB-M Use the formula and reason out the thought process. HB-B is endo (+ve) whereas HB-M is exo (-ve). You will get it. Refer to textbook if you still dont. They give very good examples to understand. 13) Which is the definition of catalyst? - Provide an alternative route for the reaction with lower activation energy? - substance which speeds up the rate of reaction

Yes. Combine both sentence into one answer. 14) For the oxidation of ethanol, for the chemical equation, do I write 2[O] or O2? If due to bacterial oxidation, we should write O2. If used acidified potassium dichromate (VI) in lab, we normally write as 2[O]. Check textbook to re-affirm. 15) Is Group 1 hydroxides soluble? Answer above. 16) For Group 1(Apart from SPA) salts, do I use titration or Excess method? Theoretically, use TITRATION. 17) What are found free in the ground? The more common elements are Gold, Platinum and maybe silver. 18) For reduction by carbon, when do you know it will give Carbon Monoxide/ Carbon Dioxide? I mentioned this before. The equation required in your O-Level Pure Chemistry (code: 5072) is showing the use of carbon monoxide as the reducing agent. Thus, the products from the reduction of iron (III) oxide in Blast Furnace should be MOLTEN IRON and CARBON DIOXIDE. Forget about the carbon monoxide that your teacher told you it will happen for the prelim papers. It is not in syllabus. If O-Level it comes out, they will give you alot of clues if they want you to write the product as MOLTEN IRON and CARBON MONOXIDE.

19) Can Silver and Gold be reduced by Carbon and Hydrogen? You meant Silver oxide? They can, but it is not necessary. You can simply heat it to get Silver metal. Gold usually are found uncombined in the earth. 20) Do I write Calcium Sillicate OR slag for my answer during O level? It is Calcium Silicate. You have made a spelling error. Both should be fine if they asked for substance. But if they ask for chemical name, then you should write Calcium Silicate. If they asked for Chemical Formula, then you write it as CaSiO3. 21) When I add bromine to an AlkAne, do I say it decolourise slowly OR there is no observation? I supposed you meant adding aqueous bromine, Br2(aq). Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons and will not react with aqueous bromine. Thus, no changes. Aqueous bromine remains reddish-brown. Only alkenes will decolourised the reddish-brown aqueous bromine since they are unsaturated. Thanks in advance for answering (: Sent from my iPhone Questions from Lay Teng: Her questions are in fact from the Pass With Distinction book that i wrote for Shinglee Publisher. 1) When questions ask about compare & contrast, do we have to mention both Similarity & Differences? Yes. You need to. Lets say questions ask us to compare and contrast Evaporation & Boiling process, you are required to mention the similarity and differences.

Similarity: Both involves the change of state from liquid to gas of water. Differences: A. Boiling is fast while evaporation is slow B. Boiling is throughout the whole liquid while evaporation only at the surface C. Boiling occurs at 100 oC (BP of water) while evaporation occurs below the boiling point 2) How come the book state Caesium atom and Caesium ion has different number of shells? And why the atom and ion has the same mass? The answers given in the book is correct. Caesium atom has 6 electron shells. When it gives away one electron, it forms Caesium ion which has only 5 electron shells. Mass number is only determined by the sub-atomic particles present in the nucleus. i.e. protons + neutrons. Since when atom becomes ion, only electrons are transferred, the mass will stay the same.
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O Level Chemistry: Question on Periodic Table & Group Trends

Written on October 4, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Notes & Tips 2 Comments

In the previous blog post, we have discussed on the Group Trends of the Halogens (Group VII elements). Today, i shall discuss with you an exam-based multiple choice question (MCQ) that test you on your concepts on Group Trends. Below is an exam-based question send in by one of Sec 3 (2011) O-Level Pure Chemistrystudent:

HELLO MR CHUA; i have chem P2 on friday and i did my schools past year paper. i asked my teacher this qn, but i dont understand D: the ans is D but i dont understand why (: Which is most likely to be the most stable compound? A. NaCl B. RbCl C. NaF D. RbF (D)

Suggested Solution: Before we start, you need to understand which topic they are testing you on. On the first look, it seemed to be question on Chemical Bonding topic. But once you realised they asked you about stability of the compounds, you need to know they are in fact asking about the chemical reactivity of Group I and VII elements, and thus the stability of the ionic compound that is formed. The most stable compound must be made up of the most reactive metal and the most reactive non-metal for an ionic compound. Group I Trend: Reactivity increases down the Gp I i.e. Rb is more reactive than Na Group VII Trend: Reactivity decreases down the Gp VII i.e. F is more reactive than Cl As such, RbF (D) will be the most stable compound among the four choices. Hope you are learning something useful here. Feel free to forward this blog post to your friends if you think they can benefit from it. Keep sharing =)
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O Level Chemistry: Videos on Writing Ionic Equations

Written on September 23, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Notes & Tips 2 Comments

In Chemistry, an equation represents what occurs in a chemical reaction. We can write an equation by using words or chemical equation (balanced).

Many substances, especially ionic compounds, are soluble in water. In order to show the reaction of such substances in water, Ionic Equation which is a simplified chemical equation is being used. Lets take a look at the video to see easy it is to write an ionic equation:

Youtube link to video: http://youtu.be/JgOImRN7-_I As you can see from the video, the general steps to write an ionic equation are: 1. Write the balanced chemical equation 2. Include the state symbols of all the reactants & products 3. For reactants or products that are in aqueous state (aq), split them into their ions 4. Cancel out the spectator ion (s) i.e. ion (s) that appear on both the LHS & RHS of equation 5. Write your Ionic Equation Now, lets look at another example on writing ionic equation.

Youtube link to video: http://youtu.be/cgV7m3tXNf8 Hope you are learning something here. If you find the video useful, feel free to forward it to your friends to benefit from it. Keep Sharing, Keep Learning! Subscribe to my videos on Chemistry Tips and Phenomenon here
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O Level Chemistry: Group Trends of Halogens (Gp VII Elements)

Written on September 16, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Notes & Tips 1 Comment

In the previous blogpost, i have introduced to you the Periodic Table which is a table that Chemists used to help them organise information. The Periodic Table is useful to Chemists because it can be used to predict the properties of an element based on its position in the Table. In the YouTube video below, i will discuss on the Group VII Elements (commonly known as the Halogens) in terms of their Physical &

Chemical Properties. I will also highlight to you what are the possible questions that examiners like to ask in Chemistry examinations. Direct link to video: http://youtu.be/jChTEHAvrBg Note: Colour of Iodine Solids is commonly stated to be Purplish-Black (in the video i mentioned it is Black in colour) Hope you learned something important to UP your Chemistry grades and interests. Do try out the question that was posted at the end of the video. You can leave your comments/solutions in the Comments Section below. Adding a balanced chemical equation for that Halogen Displacement Reaction would show that you are cool! If you think the concepts discussed are useful to your friends, feel free to forward this blog post to them. Subscribe to my videos on Chemistry Tips and Phenomenon here
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O Level Chemistry: Question on Chemical Bonding

Written on August 19, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Notes & Tips 1 Comment

Chemical Bonding is an important topic to learn for Chemistry. In fact, fundamentally, it is one of the most important topic that is related to other topics in O-Level Chemistry (and equivalents). There are 3 types of Bondings: 1. Ionic Bonding 2. Covalent Bonding 3. Metallic Bonding Today, we will discuss a question on bonding that was sent by a Sec 4 O-Level Chemistry student. I reckon that the question was taken from his schools preliminary examination paper.

Now, first we need to recognise that the substance is a covalent compound, meaning only covalent bonding exists in the molecule. To recap, the element that is involved in bonding can have maximum of only 8 valence electrons (exception: Hydrogen with maximum of 2 valence electrons) around itself after bonding. The 8 electrons can be bonded and can also be unbonded. Answer is (B) i.e. X = Nitrogen; Y = Silicon and Z = Hydrogen Reasons as follows:

Nitrogen is in Group V > has 5 valence electrons > 3 electrons used for covalent bonding + 2 unbonded valence electrons Silicon is in Group IV > has 4 valence electrons > all 4 electrons are used for covalent bonding

Hydrogen has only 1 valence electron > electron is used for covalent bonding

Hope you are learning something useful in this post. PS: If you think this is beneficial to your friend, feel free to forward them this website. =)
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O Level Chemistry: Isotopes

Written on March 26, 2011 by sean in Chemistry Notes & Tips 10 Comments

(Image by microwavedboy) It is important that O-Level Chemistry students understand the concepts about Isotopesin order to answer application questions related to it.

Isotopes are atoms of the same element with the same number of protons butdifferent number of neutrons. This mean that for isotopes, the number of protons and electrons will be the same but the mass (nucleon) number will be different. Take chlorine as an example. 75% of naturally chlorine atoms are Cl-35 and the remaining being Cl-37. By simple math, you should get the average atomic mass (Ar) of chlorine to be 35.5 as shown in most Periodic Table. Click HERE for more in-depth discussions on Isotopes in the topic of Atomic Structure. Most elements in the periodic table have isotopes, and many of these isotopes are radioactive. Some of the common uses of radioactive isotopes are in medical & chemical industry. Clean energy industry such as the Nuclear Plants are making use of the radioactive isotopes to produce large amount of energy in several countries, much to the disapproval by groups that are aware of the danger in radioactive substance. Lets take a look at a very common exam-based Multiple Choice Question (MCQ).
Quick Check 1: Isotopes are A) atoms of the same element with different masses B) atoms of different elements with different masses C) atoms of different elements with the same mass D) atoms of the same element with same mass

Based on our discussion, we should arrived at answer A with two sets of keywordsatoms of the same element and different masses. Now, try out the following MCQ question on your own:
Quick Check 2: Which of the following statements concerning the two isotopes 146C and 147N is/are correct?

1. Both isotopes have the same chemical properties 2. Both isotopes contain 14 nucleons per atom 3. The carbon isotope has more neutrons per atom than the nitrogen isotope A) 1, 2 and 3 are correct B) 1 and 2 only are correct C) 2 and 3 only are correct D) 3 only is correct