The Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry syllabus enables learners to understand the technological world in which they live, and take an informed interest in science and scientific developments. Learners gain an understanding of the basic principles of Chemistry through a mix of theoretical and practical studies. They also develop an understanding of the scientific skills essential for further study at Cambridge International A Level, skills which are useful in everyday life. As they progress, learners understand how science is studied and practised, and become aware that the results of scientific research can have both good and bad effects on individuals, communities and the environment.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Ren Yii: To be honest, Chemistry is quite an interesting subject. There’s a lot of experiments you can do in IGCSE Chemistry, and you’ll also be pretty fascinated by how Chemistry actually works
Sharn Min: Most of the concepts in Chemistry link to each other so it’s not very hard to understand.
Raegel: You get to learn the science why certain reactions happen, so eg. why salts dissolve in certain acids, why they don’t dissolve in certain liquids, and you get to understand that in a deeper knowledge than you get in Year 9.
What is the most challenging thing about the subject?
Raegel: The most challenging thing about Chemistry I’d say is the understanding of the concepts. For chemistry, it’s not all memorising. There’s some memorising, but to understand the basis you need to understand the basic concepts first, and from that you build on your foundation and you apply the knowledge that you learnt to your past year questions.
Sharn Min: If you don’t understand the concept fully, it will be hard to answer all the questions.
Ren Yii: For me, the most challenging part about chemistry is just mainly the concepts.
For example, there are a lot of examples that are pretty much the same, but the thing is that you need to apply the same concept to it. If you apply the wrong concept to it, you’re pretty much getting everything wrong.
Interviewer: So you said applying the wrong concepts, could you give any specific examples?
Ren Yii: Like for example, when you’re trying to get the salts, if you apply the wrong salt to it, and you use a different volume/moles of it, you won’t get the right substance you want at the end of it.
Why did you choose the subject?
Ren Yii: I found it quite interesting to be honest. Chemistry actually allows you to become a doctor in the future if you want, and it also allows you to do a lot careers in the future.
Sharn Min: I chose Chemistry because it was a really good combination with Bio.
Raegel: I chose Chemistry because I knew I wanted to do 2 sciences. So chemistry I feel out of all the 3 sciences is the most flexible science, so you can use it in application for Biology and also in Physics, or in the future, or even right now, or in A-Levels.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations?
Raegel: The only thing that was most surprising for me was just the many ways you can apply a simple concept. So we’re talking about how acidic an acid is, so the application for that is what type of certain salts or carbonates or nitrates can dissolve in it, and certain compounds that can’t dissolve in it. So a single idea or concept can apply in a myriad of different ways.
Sharn Min: In Key Stage 3 the Chemistry is much more simple, and in Key Stage 4 you go much more in depth with the concepts.
Ren Yii: You actually need to learn in depth of what is going on in those molecules, and why do they actually work like that.
How are the lessons like?
Ren Yii: There are a lot of experiments where you need to work together with your friends in the class, and also if you wanna do notes its best to share notes along with everyone else so you can prepare for the exams.
Sharn Min: In class, my teacher recommends us to understand the concepts before we take any notes, so it’s not as much writing as I expected.
Interviewer: So Sharn Min, do you make your own notes during your free time or during the lesson?
Sharn Min: I make them during my free time and in lessons
Raegel: The thing about Chemistry that I find most interesting and stands out in classroom structure is the number of experiments you get to do. So unlike Biology or Physics, you get a lot of more experiments. You get to play with a lot more solutions, and salts, and you get to play with fire too sometimes, so that’s what’s special about it.
How much homework or independent study do you do a week for this subject?
Raegel: Well it depends, so in beginning in the first 3 or 4 chapters, it’s topics that you’ve already covered in Year 9 and Key Stage 3, so for those you just need to refresh your memory, such as: the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the structure of an atom. And then all the topics after that, it’s all quite new, so as you progress you need to study more, revise more, and it really depends on how well you grasp the concept firsthand, so if you really do understand it, you need to spend less time studying, and I guess more time doing questions.
Ren Yii: Basically for me, I just reflect around 15 minutes everyday approximately. Cause when you actually reflect back on what you did in Chemistry class, it’s way easier than studying once in form of one whole hour. So a week, I think I actually use around 1 hour or so in total to revise Chemistry.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Ren Yii: The skills I can gain from taking Chemistry is how you actually set up experiments, that’s one. And also Chemistry takes a lot from your Math skills. If you’re good at math, you wouldn’t find a problem balancing moles in Chemistry. And the thing is, why Chemistry is useful is also because in the future if you wanna be a doctor, for example, you need Chemistry to calculate the right volumes of medicine for your patient.
Any tips for new Chemistry students?
Raegel: Don’t slack. Study from day 1.
Sharn Min: Just study up all your basics and make sure you have your basic knowledge.
Ren Yii: Relax, just get the concepts right and you should be fine. And just make sure you do your math properly and you don’t do careless mistakes.
How do you study for the subject?
Ren Yii: You take a textbook and you read it. And also for example, sometimes you can create some notes and revise and learn. And I also recommend you reflecting on what you learn to that day, for around 15 minutes, or about 10 minutes or so, so you actually get a clearer memory over time.
Sharn Min: You should watch YouTube videos, cause it’s easier to absorb the information when someone is explaining it to you, and you should take notes.
Raegel: Especially with your memorisation of your chemical equations (like acid + base -> water and salt), things like that you should write down on flash cards, because there are quite a few equations that you need to remember. So go home, write your flash cards, and sort of treat it as a game for how many you can memorise. Like maybe today, I can memorise 5/10, but next week I’ll be able to do 7. So sort of build up your foundation skills and memorise it in chunks, don’t overwhelm yourself.
Ren Yii: And to add something, its that when you actually write down the equations, you must understand how the equations function. Once you actually grasp how the equation functions (eg like why you highlight these values), then everything will be quite simple to be honest, you don’t even need to memorise the equations, you can actually solve it (the question) right on the spot without equations.
Will taking any other subjects help me to be successful in this one?
Ren Yii: Well Chemistry does involve a lot of math, so I guess chemistry can actually boost your math a bit. And also a Chemistry relates with all the other subjects such as bio, when you’re looking at the chemical reactions inside of the body.
Overview by Mr Praba
Hi guys, my name is Mr Praba, I’m an IGCSE teacher for Chemistry, code 0620.
So if I want to give you three words about Chemistry, I’d say
Its exciting. It’s thrilling. It’s super fun
What are the three top skills that you need for you to fulfil (your success) in IGCSE Chemistry?
You must have a “Making Links” skill. Why making links? You must be able to link your surroundings with your subject content. Secondly, you need to be hard working. Please guys, if you’re not hardworking enough, Chemistry will be very very tough for you guys. But if you do have the discipline as well as the hard work, Chemistry will be super nice and super fun.
What are the personal development skills that you can develop for yourself in the future?
You can have confidence, just like me. Innovative ideas. Responsibility
How does it help you professionally in your future career?
Okay guys just see this: even if you want to be a salesman, if you wanna sell your product, you must know the basic chemistry behind your product, if not you won’t be able to sell your product.
What is the best thing about your subject?
One thing I love about my subject is that it gives me the critical thinking research ability and it helps me to analyse so many different things, and that’s why I enjoy Chemistry.
Papers in IGCSE Chemistry
Paper 1/2: Multiple choice
Paper 1 is Core and Paper 2 is Extended. You only do 1 of these 2 papers.
Requires skills such as knowledge and understanding and handling of data
Paper 3/4: Structured Questions
Paper 3 is Core and Paper 4 is Extended. You only do 1 of these 2 papers.
1 hour 15 minutes
Requires skills such as knowledge and understanding and handling of data
Paper 6: Alternative to Practical
Requires skills such as experimental and investigation skills