# HOW TO PASS PRACTICALS IN CHEMISTRY.

Just like other Sciences, Chemistry comes in three papers in exams. We have Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3.
Paper 1 comes out of 80 marks, Paper 2 also out of 80 marks and Paper 3 is out of 40 marks.
In most schools, students start doing full papers in exams when they are in form three.
Paper 3 Chemistry exam comes in form of practicals and it is done in the Chemistry laboratory.
Here is why Paper 3 is the Saviour,
Consider the results of the following two students in the same Chemistry exam;
Student X.
Paper 1= 60/80
Paper 2=62/80
Paper 3=10/40

Student Y.
Paper 1= 45/80
Paper 2=48/80
Paper 3=33/40

Let’s now calculate how many marks each student got across the three papers.

Student X.
《{(60 + 62) ÷ (80 + 80)} × 60》+ 10.
That is 55%.

Student Y.
《{(45 + 48) ÷ (80 + 80)} × 60》+ 33.
That is 68%.

See, student Y has more marks and a better grade than student X mainly because of Paper 3.
Paper 3 is never calculated into percentage, it is always given as a percentage.
Chemistry is a problem to many students.
In most schools, Chemistry is the subject with the second lowest mean score after Mathematics in KCSE.
As a student, to pass KCSE we must pass Chemistry, to pass Chemistry we must pass Practicals, to pass Practicals we must pass practice Practicals.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes progress. Successful students focus on progress, not perfection. Last exam you got a D- in Chemistry, next exam focus on at least a D, then next at least a D+, then C-, progressively.
Progressive progress is the key to Chemistry improvement. Do not aim at an A when you are at an E. Aim at a better grade, then a better one, then a better one.
I want to share my personal approach to Chemistry when I was in high school many years ago. I was not the brightest boy in class. I was not always the number one. In our form four class, I didn’t have the highest marks in KCPE. From the moment the Chemistry teacher showed us how marks are calculated, I knew Paper 3 was the secret.
From the time I was in form three class, every Wednesday during tea break I used to visit the laboratory technician and gave him just one Chemistry Paper 3 question and requested him to organise for me that practical which I would come and attempt doing in the evening from 3:50PM to 4:50PM before going for games and personal cleaning until 6PM when we would go for supper.
In case a practical question was challenging, I would ask for help from the Chemistry teacher whose office was not far from the laboratory.
My Chemistry results began improving steadily. Remember, this was a personal decision but later it became a class thing.
By the time we were in form four, every Wednesday at 3:50PM we used to do Chemistry Practicals. It became a culture which was deeply inculcated into our academic system.
When KCSE came we improved significantly in Chemistry.
Most weak students came up.
Remember, when Chemistry results behave well, KCSE results will automatically behave well.

By Sam VIDAMBU.

Vidambu is an Academic Mentor with over 2200 high schools in Kenya running his academic programs.
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