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An IQ Test or a Chemistry Question?

posted Nov 16, 2016, 7:21 AM by Grace Ong   [ updated Dec 17, 2016, 1:23 AM ]
The following post was first posted on Blogger on Wednesday, 11 December 2013.



This must be a classic example of the ‘IQ’ question that a fellow Chemistry teacher, Wobbles, spoke about in his comment (below) on my post, 'The Mind-Boggling H2 Chemistry'.

Wobbles  24/9/13 4:15 pm
A fellow JC H2 chemistry teacher here, and I agree completely! It doesn't help when the higher-ups seem blind and deaf to what's going on at the ground level. Heck, I was told recently that "We would like to assure you that there are processes (including post-examination checks) in place to ensure that questions in the national examinations are set within the syllabus."

Riiiiiiigggghhhhhttt... So, acid anhydrides are in the syllabus? Since when?

The H2 Chem paper has become a de facto IQ test - spot the pattern in the limited time available, apply it, move on. Some of the reasons - it's the gateway to the hallowed halls of the School of Medicine, they want to make As more exclusive.

The Paper 1 I set was so difficult, the mean score was 20 out of 40. So I guess I'm one of those teachers who is trying to toughen up my students by putting them through an ordeal of pain. [/hangs head in shame]

(To access an expandable version, click here to view slides on SlideShare.)

I laughed when I saw this question, because I was very much as guilty for my fondness for coming up with such questions. Wobbles was right – are we testing the understanding of Chemistry concepts, or are we measuring the intelligence quotient of our students?

On a side note, the unpredictable Cambridge has designed a surprisingly easy paper this year, much to the relief of the weaker students. The academically able ones, on the other hand, were a little upset. Their concern? An easy paper meant that a much higher bar would be set for the distinction grade. (The number of distinctions is unlikely to vary very much from previous years, methinks, since the mark distribution is likely be normalised.)

Guess we can’t please everybody.
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