Ace 'O' Level Science with The Learning Lab's Guide

Posted by Kellie Teo on September 29, 2016

This is the third of a three part revision guide for the English, Math and Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) 'O' Level papers.

With just under a month left to the GCE 'O' Levels, your child should be well into preparations for his or her papers. While practise does make perfect, it is important that your child is practising the right exam techniques that will help secure the grades he or she is aiming for.

Pointers for Peak Performance in 'O' Level Science


Paper 1

  1. Several statements may be presented in questions of any topic. Students should select the appropriate statements by reading through each carefully and marking each, ‘true’, ‘false’, or ‘not able to tell’.
  2. Questions that include microscopic or illustrated images with parts that students must label generally feature under the topic of Cells. Students may also be required to identify the type of cell, parts of the cell, or functions of the parts.

Paper 2

1. Students should ensure that their answer for each part in a question is consistent with other parts.

  1. Part a is generally a recall question, i.e. a ‘state’ or ‘define’ question.
  2. Middle parts of a question generally involve interpretation of information given and analysis using students’ pre-existing knowledge, i.e. ‘explain’, and sometimes, ‘compare’.
  3. A ‘suggest’ or ‘predict’ part may appear in the final part of a question, requiring students to apply their knowledge to explain non-textbook or unfamiliar scenarios.

2. The common mistakes include giving incomplete answers, not making comparisons, missing keywords, not answering in context of question, no reference to experimental results, and carelessness. Students should be aware of these common mistakes and check their answers to avoid making these mistakes during examinations.


Paper 1

  1. Students can start the paper from the front (experimental chemistry questions, moving onto the particulate nature of matter, and then onto mole concept); or from the back (organic chemistry questions), depending on which topics they are stronger in. However, students are advised not to start the paper from the middle as these questions often include multiple topics that will throw you off your momentum.
  2. Data and graphical analysis questions test students’ ability to process data in the questions or options and link these data to the concepts learnt. Common topics include Rate of Reaction, Acids and Bases, Chemical Bonding and Air.

Paper 2

  1. Questions will involve a novel set-up or application that will require students to apply what they have learnt. Additional information may be provided by the question if advanced concepts are bring introduced. These questions may tend to be very long because a lot of information and/or data is provided, therefore it is important for you to highlight crucial information.
  2. For data analysis questions, graphs may be provided. Students should first identify the independent and dependent variables, and the aim of the experiment. Their answers should relate to the experimental set-up and provide the trends, results or observations from the experimental set-up.


Paper 1

  1. Common mistakes include not converting quantities to the appropriate units before performing calculations and incorrect concepts. Students should be aware of these common mistakes and check their answers to avoid making these mistakes during examinations.

Paper 2

  1. Answers to ‘explain’ questions require the application of scientific concepts to the observations.
  2. Answers to ‘using information from …, explain/determine …’ questions require students to use the information given to solve, rather than apply conceptual knowledge.


Download our guides to acing 'O' Level Science

for more tips on how to tackle each topic tested in the 'O' Level Science papers.


GCE O level Science

If you would like to find out more about our Science Programmes, contact us today!

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You might also be interested in:

The Learning Lab's Guide to Acing 'O' Level English

The Learning Lab's Guide to Acing 'O' Level Math

Topics: O levels, science, biology, chemistry, physics