Is Chemistry really that difficult?

Talk about the devil and he appears. This is a saying that turned out to be a damning reality in the just concluded “O” level national examinations. The exams, which appeared to have kicked off well and matched the expectations of many candidates, came with a rude shock when the Chemistry paper gave the students an extremely hard bone to chew.

Talk about the devil and he appears. This is a saying that turned out to be a damning reality in the just concluded “O” level national examinations.

The exams, which appeared to have kicked off well and matched the expectations of many candidates, came with a rude shock when the Chemistry paper gave the students an extremely hard bone to chew.

Prior to the paper, many candidates appeared nervous about it. They termed it as a generally hard paper that they had to flex their muscles against.

So as they prophesied and expected, it came to pass. When the paper was presented in the usual light blue colour, the content in it was usual but unfriendly. The questions were a no man’s joke.

What is commonly referred to as higher order questions in the education circles dominated the paper. The examiner no longer expected them to just recall principles and chemical formulae. It was different!
Candidates had to think and apply their understanding of various topics in the subject.

“This paper required the candidates to think and apply their acquired knowledge,” said one chemistry teacher.

Compared to last year’s paper, this year’s was elaborate and more standardized. Most questions that appeared could not be immediately identified in the recent chemistry past papers.

“The paper was very original and long,” a teacher commented.

Whether it is a reality or a farce that chemistry is hard is the big question that many educators and parents are grappling with. In general, students tend to dread math and sciences. The phobia lowers their self esteem. They end up not believing in themselves and their ability to do what others have done.

To a larger extent, negative attitude towards chemistry and other subjects is the ruinous cause of dismal performance.

Until students are helped to shatter the attitudinal nut about the difficulty of certain disciplines, the battle against poor performance shall remain an illusion.

The mood that dominated the examination centres after the chemistry paper, on Tuesday morning, indicated that the candidates expected little from the paper. Contrary to the other days, the jubilation of finishing one paper and looking forward to another, was a dead wood. Excitement was as absent as planet Jupiter is from the earth.

Interest in continuing with the remaining paper, Biology, on Wednesday, appeared to dwindle as the candidates were overpowered by frustration.

Rigorous preparations are, however, needed before the candidates sit for national exams. Different possibilities of examining different subjects and topics should also be presented to candidates to prepare them for the unknown, rather than the known.

The author is the Director of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.

znyamosi@yahoo.com

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