The chemistry (S205) 2012 exam – final preparations

Just one more full day of revision to go and the exam will be upon me.

The chemistry course has been something of an interesting journey for me. It began just a week or so after the S204 (biology) exam so the first few weeks went in a bit of a blur as I recovered from that. The next few months ran alongside a full-time computer course which ate up a lot of the time that ordinarily would have been available for study and then it was on to the new job which ate up even more time. Not a good recipe for great performance on the course and the marks tracked the availability of time for the course pretty well ie not great after the first assignment. Funnily enough, now that I’ve had a fairly good run at the revision, I feel reasonably confident about the exam (the confidence could dissipate quite quickly on Tuesday morning though!).

I began the revision a few weeks ago based on the “bookmarks” and chapter summaries that the course team very helpfully pulled out. Together those run to 152 pages which is fairly comparable with the amount on S204 if you take into account the different font size. The information density is so high that it takes ages to read through and I wish I’d started a few weeks earlier as my target of a book’s worth per day made for a very hard slog at times.

Stage two was based around the past papers and two tutorials relating to those. Whilst in S204 there were chunks of the books classed as optional, in S205 the options are enshrined on the paper itself. As usual, the short questions are from the entire course but since it’s 8 from 12 you can effectively omit one or possibly two books and still do quite well. I find that in practice I’m able to pick 6 to 8 questions that I can do very well from each of the past papers which equates to around 25% to 30% of the overall marks for the paper ie in principle I should almost have passed just on the short questions.

The longer questions are divided up into three sections and you pick 1 from 3 in each of those sections. The first section seems the easiest with substitution/elimination and retrosynthetic analysis that seem fairly doable in each of the papers. The second section has kinetics and spectroscopy which generally seem quite doable alongside orbitals and bonding which don’t so a reasonable selection again. The final section seems the most difficult potentially with a VSEPR question that can be all over the place, a Born-Haber cycle that’s mostly doable and what could very much be a nightmare book 9 question. Still, hopefully with 25% in the bank from the short questions I won’t need a massive amount from the longer ones to achieve a pass.

I’m planning on going over my one page of notes tomorrow and perhaps to look in more detail at the crystals book and, of course, there’s the exam bag to be packed.

This year the bag will be a lot more packed than usual. There’s the normal pens, pencil, spare pen and pencil, ruler, calculator, spare calculator (yes, I know, paranoid), wine gums (I’m expecting a number of “wine gum moments” for this exam), Lucozade and passport (you need photo ID for the exam). To that are added the molecular model kit (although I’ve yet to see a question that required it) and the data book. Since I have them from the S204 exam, I’ll likely take along the coloured pencils and drawing kit: I’m sure that some day I’ll do an exam where I’ll use them.

As with the S204 exam, there’s no rest period afterwards as I’ve to get the CMAs for both the residentials done before the end of the month and get back into the SD329 reading as there’s an assignment for it due just after I get back from the residentials.

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