How do I get a 7?

Accumulate 200 hours of meaningful practice.

What does this mean? This video of Audrey and Stephanie will give you a sense of the magnitude and attitude that the above phrase means.

In reality, satisfying this requirement requires you to develop habits in:

  • Staying organized
  • Quasi-daily maintenance,
  • Focussed, effective practice

You should expect to devote 3.5 hours / week. The hours required increases if you have ineffective habits.

Staying organized

You will learn a lot in this course. Learning material comes in many forms, but if you stay organized from the beginning you will not be overwhelmed. I do my best to help you along, but there are actions that you need to take.

Digitally

I created a Google Folder for each of you. First thing: You should drag this from "Shared with Me" to "My Drive". This enables you to search all the content. Bookmark the folder.

Create a folder at some convenient place on your drive. Make an /IA/ folder inside.

Synchronizing Google Drive

Google Drives can be synchronized to your local drive. You can then access the resources offline (away from the temptations of the internet).

If you do this, you can create your /IA/ folder as a folder in your Google Drive. The advantage is that this will automatically backup.

Physically

You get four main groups of printed material from me:

  • A3 notes: to help you take notes in class, I print templates for you to fill in. These templates are A3-sized so you can better see the overall picture (the details you can find in your textbook). By the end of the course there is about 100 sheets.
  • Practice / practice tests
  • Past papers by topic
  • Past papers: I schedule past paper practices for you in Term 4.

At the end of the two years you would accumulate about 15 cm of paper. I recommend:

  1. A binder for notes and recent practices / past paper by topic. This is the binder that you would bring to class / study with. A 1" 2-ringed binder would work. I recommend using dividers for different topics.
  2. A binder for archived practices / practice tests / tests / past papers by topic. You will need a thick (2" / 3") binder for this.
  3. (In term 4) A thick binder for past papers. You will do about 32 past papers in the preparation for your final exam, and this is about 7-8 cm thick.

Stationary

I design the note templates for use with 0.3 mm tip pens. Thinner than this is fine; thicker makes it difficult.

I use colors with meaning and a system. It is helpful to be able to take notes or draw your own thoughts with the same color system. Here is the list of colors I use and their major meaning, in order of importance:

  • yellow (brown)
  • purple

I use yellow and purple to show negative and positive charges. Because yellow on white is not so readable, "yellow writing" is often done with a deeper brown instead.

  • red
  • green

I use red and green to show the "shouldn't" and the "shoulds". Yellow doubles as a warning color.

  • blue
  • gray

Blue shows header, and gray is subsidiary information.

A pack of highlighter suffices for most color needs.


We use slates (mini-whiteboards) in every class, and I expect you to bring your own markers. I will provide refills as needed.


When practicing, have post-its, and pens of at least two colors. Use one color to respond, and a different color to mark.

Even better, have three color pens:

  1. use blue[1] to answer[2]
  2. use green, or a pencil, to indicate correct answers
  3. use red to mark incorrect answers and write down the correct reasoning

This three color system let you easily review your mistakes from before.

Post-it notes serves two purpose:

  1. to mark down questions that arises ("parking lot"), and
  2. to stick to the front of a practice stack, showing the most important thing you learnt from that practice.

Starting with these early in Y1, and making it into a habit, will make your learning better, faster, easier --- not only in chemistry with me, but in other subjects as well as beyond.

In short, my ideal pencil case:

Practice

There are type of activities that may be practice, and some that are definitely not practice.

Activities that could contribute to practice, in increasing intensity:

  • solving “worked examples” (with as little help from the working as possible)
  • solving in-between sub-chapter questions in textbook
  • solving end-of-chapter questions in textbook
  • solving past papers (by topic)
  • solving past paper (full year)
  • solving past test / quizzes
  • making a hypothesis and testing it in AtomSmith / Yenka / WebMO / other simulations
  • building your own simulations to model a phenomena

Activities that are definitely not practice:

  • (re-) reading textbook / study guide
  • (re-) reading notes
  • reading articles on the internet
  • watching instructional videos
  • highlighting
  • decorating notes
  • memorizing (textbook, study guide, notes…)
  • using Anki decks

  1. In my own practice I've drifted towards brown for responding ↩︎

  2. I like this one to be a Frixion pen; it substitutes the pencil + eraser too. ↩︎

Last Updated: 6 months ago