Chemistry SPM Paper 3 Question Analysis from 2003 – 2009

Year Structure QuestionPlanning an Experiment
20091 Effect of type of electrode on the electrolysis of aqueous solution
2 Rate of reaction
1 Relationship between concentration of nitric acid & pH value
20081 Effect of ethanoic acid and ammonia solution on the coaagulation of latex1 Reactivity of lithium, sodium and potassium with water
20071 Exothermic & endothermic reaction1 Construct electrochemical series to determine factor that influence the difference in voltage
20061 Heat of neutralization1 Compare iron & steel from the aspect of hardness/resistant to corrosion
20051 Freezing point of naphthalene
2 Electrochemical series based on potential difference
1 Effect of alloying on the hardness of metal
2 How concentration affect the rate of reaction of acid with metal
20041 Empirical formula of magnesium oxide
2 Reactivity series of metals
1 Prepare esters from two different alcohol
20031 Effect of temperature on the rate of reaction
2 Construct ionic equations through continuous variation method
1 Compare the elasticity of vulcanized rubber & unvulcanized rubber


SPM 2007 Paper 3 Question 2 - Chemical Cells

Please attempt the question first. If you have any querry, don't hesitate to email me. 

Suggested answer, please click here.


Preparation of Soluble Salt - Copper(II) Sulphate

copper sulphate

The photo shows copper(II) sulphate prepared by one group of students in my chemistry class.
Copper(II) sulphate can be prepared by using one of the reactions
  1. sulphuric acid and copper(II) oxide
  2. sulphuric acid and copper(II) carbonate
Chemical equation for the first equation:
  1. H2SO4 + CuO  --> CuSO4 + H2O
  2. H2SO4 + CuCO3  --> CuSO4 + H2O
The slide follows briefly shows the steps taken. The copper(II) oxide can be replaced by copper(II) carbonate too.

Preparation of copper sulphate

In SPM 2003, students are required to describe a laboratory experiment to prepare dry magnesium chloride based on given materials :
  • magnesium sulphate solutions,
  • dilute hydrochloric acid,
  • potassium carbonate solution

 This question is a bit tricky. Students need to consider few things before write their plan:
  1. Is magnesium chloride a soluble salt?
  2. What are reactants used to prepare magnesium chloride?
  3. Are the reactants required given in the list?
  4. How to make use of the given materials?(Hint: precipitation reaction)
  5. Explain the procedure in details.
Need any further guide, just write in the comment!

Krypton Bulb

krypton bulb
krypton bulb

Krypton like other argon gases is used in lighting.  Krypton bulb usually emits bright white light.


How Factors Affecting the Rate of Reaction are Applied in Industrial Processes

Questions about the topic is frequently found in Paper 1 SPM. Students are given various choices of condition of reaction but students hardly to pick a correct answer. Normally when I teach rate of reaction, I ask my students to collect all related information and complete the table. They can revise it anytimes  especially last-minute revision.

Sometimes, this topic is asked in Paper 2 too. Students are asked to state the temperature, pressure & catalyst in a reaction and explain how does each factor affecting the rate of reaction by using collision theory.


Formation of Ionic Bond & Covalent Bond

Formation of chemical bond is one of the important concepts in chemistry. In Chemistry SPM, students are introduced ionic bond and covalent bond in when they were in form 4.

The following video shows the formation of ionic bond by using formation of sodium chloride as an example.
Ionic bond is the strong electrostatic force of attraction that holds the oppositely charged ions.

The following show samples of answer when explaining formation of ionic bond in essay Chemistry SPM.
  • Electron arrangement of sodium atom is 2.8.1
  • A sodium atom donates one electron to achieve stable octet electron arrangement
  • A sodium ion, Na+ is formed
  • This electron is transferred to a chlorine atom with an electron arrangement of 2.8.7
  • A chlorine atom accepts electron from sodium atom to achieve the stable octet electron arrangement
  • Chloride ion, Cl-, is formed
  • The sodium ion, and chloride ion, are attracted to one another by a strong electrostatic force/ionic bond to form an ionic compound, sodium chloride, NaCl.

The following video show formation of covalent bond. 
A bond that is formed when a pair of valence electrons are shared between two non-metal atoms.
There are three type of of covalent bond :
  • single bond
  • double bond
  • triple bond

SPM Corner:
Electron arrangement for atom W : 2. 4
Electron arrangement for atom X : 2.8.7
Electron arrangemnt for atom Y :

Based on the given information, explain how two compounds can be formed from these elements based on their electron arrangements.

The two compounds should have different bond types. [10 marks]

Formation of Ionic Bond:
  • State the electron arrangement of both atoms.
  • Explain how each atom achieve stable electron arrangement. E.g. To achieve stable electrons arrangement, atom Y donates 2 electrons to form Y2+ ion while atom X donate 1 electron to form X+ ion 
  • Explain the ions formed are attracted by strong electrostatic force.
  • Give the formula of the compound formed.
  • Draw the electron arrangement of the compound formed.

Formation of Covalent Bond:
  • State the electron arrangemnt of and the number of valence electrons of each atoms.
  • Explain how many more electrons for each atom to achieve stable electron arrangement. E.g. Atom W need 4 electrons to achieve stable electron arrangement while atom Y needs 1 electron to achieve stable electron arrangement 
  • Explain how do the atoms share electrons. E.g. Atom W contributes 4 electrons for sharing while atom X contribute 1 electrons for sharing.  Each four Y atoms share 1 pair of electrons with one W atoms
  • State the formula of the compound formed.
  • Draw the electron arrangment of the compoud formed.

Definition of Isotopes

What's the definition of the isotopes? The video clip shows isotopes of hydrogen.

Sound simple, right? After watching the video clip, I hope you can identify some key words to define isotopes.

Isotopes are atoms that have the same number of protons but different number of neutrons. or

atoms that have the same proton number but different nucleon number.

My students used to give their definition of isotopes as follows:
  1. same number of proton but different number of neutrons
  2. same proton number but different neutron number.
Sadly, their answers are not considered as a complete definition., The first answer didn't mention the most important keyword: atoms. The second answer used "neutron number" which is incorrect term.

Some examples of isotopes :
  1. carbon-12, carbon-13, carbon-14;
  2. oxygen-16, oxygen-17, oxygen-18;
  3. chlorine-35, chlorine-37.
  4. chlorine-35 and chlorine-37.
Isotopes are widely in our daily life. Can you give some examples of isotopes used in medicine, industry, science and archeology?
In fact, the similar question turned out in SPM 2005.


Young Chemist - Sc & Tech Week Year 2010

Young Chemist was actually a competition! Students who have successfullly carried out the task given and showed an excellent work will be awarded as Young Chemist.

The task given was on a chemistry-related environment issues. Students were required to plan an experiment to study the the given problems. Students were given 2 hours in the chemistry lab to carry out their experiment plan and writing their report.

Based on students' report,  I found out that students understands the problems given. However, they were hardly to identify a specific problem they wish to study. They were able to plan required materials, apparatus, procedures and tabulation of data for their experiment. But analysis & interpreting data were their weakest part. This is the part that should be polished up. Form 5 students were weak in this part too in their PEKA.

The Young Chemist were awarded to groups from 4A, 4E and 4H. Congratulations!!!

Students were preparing chemicals for their experiment.

Students were pondering what to do next.

Students were interpreting data based on collected observation.

Students were working hard in writing their report.


Heat of Combustion of Various Alcohols

Characteristics of Homologous Series

In Chemistry SPM, students were introduced with five homologous series: Alkane, Alkene, Alcohol, Carboxylic Acids and Esters.

The following is one of the Chemistry SPM 2009 questions related to homologous series.
The table shows some information about three members of a homologous series.
Homologous Series

Based on the table, state and explain five characteristics of a homologous series.                                        [10 marks]
  1. Members of the series can be represented by a general formula. Ethanol, propanol and butanal have the same general formula, CnH2n+1OH
  2. Successive members differ from each other by –CH2. The difference between propanol and ethanol is CH2 that has a relative molecular mass of 14.
  3. Physical properties change regularly with increasing number of carbon atoms. The boiling points of alcohols increase from ethanol, propanol to butanol.
  4. Members have similar chemical properties because they have same functional group. Ethanol, propanol and butanol undergo oxidatoin produce carboxylic acids.
  5. Members of the homologous series can be prepared using the same method.  Ethanol, propanol & butanol can be prepared by hydration of alkene.


9th Malaysia Technology Expo

On 6 Feb 2010, I went with 52 students to 9th Malaysia Technology Expo held at PWTC.  It was wonderful study trip. Different universities has their own booths displaying their latest finding in science and technology.

There were few booths that attracted my attention:

1. Using Mas Cotek as Copper(II) Absorbent

2. Polyethene/egg shell powder Composite
3. Polystyrene Composite as tiles

Atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Today Hiroshima marked the 65th anniversary of atomic bomb attack. Some chemistry related facts about the making of atomic bomb:

  • The Hiroshima bomb which is called "Little Boy" used Uranium-235.
  • The Nagasaki bom, "Fat Man" made of Plutonium-239.
More information related to the atomic bomb & World World II, click here.


Chemistry Pamphlet Design Competition - Sc & Tech Week 2010

Chemistry Pamphlet Design was one of the activity for Science & Technology Week Year 2010.  Each group of students picked a topic in their chemistry and submitted their work in 2 weeks time.

Students' submission for Chemistry Pamphlet Design Competition.

Winners of the Pamphlet Design Competition
Left: : The Periodic Table from 5G studentsMunirah, Hayati, Fadhilah)
Right : Esters from 5H students(Ashikin, Izzati, Zafirah)

It was my first time organizing such activity. To my surprice, most students with the help of ICT, they showed ability to find related information and present them well.

However there is always room for improvement for the following years. As for me, I would prefer giving a theme, e.g. Contribution of Chemists, Chemicals for Consumer, Manufactured Substances in Industry. Each group will conduct a detailed study on one of the topic, take photos and organize & present their information in a creative way.

As for the students:
  • Avoid copying information 100% from any sources.
  • Choose only relevant information.
  • Using software like Microsoft Word/Publisher will help.
  • Think of the audience. Must be eye-catching.  Use a suitable layout, font & graphics/photo and colour contrast.