Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightenting indeed.

That line from a famous song seems to be somewhat appropriate for this paper. In general, students are saying the paper wasn’t much like the past years papers that they have done previously.

It is quite frustrating when the format of the exam (and the ‘coded questions’) get in the way of being able to show what you have learned.

The examiners will of course contest this, believing their questions are designed to probe the learning requirements of the paper.

Well, personally, I think that for whatever reason(s), are overlooking things that they do which could be better and would be best avoided.


I think all the exam boards could (even if possibly to lesser extents) be accused of not being so clear in presentation of their questions. Also, don’t forget this…. all students of P42 will face exactly the same struggle. It will all be  reflected in the grade boundaries they set. If you’ve worked well over the last year, then you have very little to fear from the exam.

The chief examiner explained a bit about the examination question process. The different stages of review often lead to alternative answers  / ways of accomplishing the questions, having a broad set of acceptable answers hence marks.

Of if you struggled, just put it behind you. Refocus (some have Physics paper 52 tomorrow). So just give them all best shot and keep punching your way through the exams.

UPDATE: 14th My 2016…. Tq Faiz (one of my July 2014 students) for pointing me to the MUST WATCH post Paper42 video…



One thought on “Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightenting indeed.

  1. Wow! I got to see the paper today.

    I can see why many students were a bit ‘perturbed’ shall we say. I managed to see the paper today and In first inspection, for quite a few Q’s, I found it difficult to come up with ideas on how to answer them! The style is quite different too. It seems like “explain why” type questions are getting much more use, dressed up with “suggest reasons for” type wording.
    However, this evening I look a more relaxed look at the Q’s (instead of the rapid scan earlier) and indeed, I began to appreciate a bit more what it was that the question wanted, and had a few more ideas on how to answer, but frankly speaking, not as much ‘creative sparks’ as I I felt I should be getting.

    All the while, when looking at the questions before, I kept wondering how on earth students would be able to answer those questions well based on the syllabus/scheme of work and course book. Even the usual ‘bonus’ students can get be going slightly beyond the syllabus, would have been very hard to equip students to get answers – correct answers – quickly and accurately.

    I simply couldn’t believe that there was NO KINETICS on it (for the 2nd summer running). I find that astounding. I’m almost in a state of disbelief at it.

    I strongly suspect therefore that you will get a Kinetics based experiment in Paper 5.

    Here’s a P4 breakdown…
    Q1 Gp II
    ions, bonding, thermal decomposition, mass of anhydrous Mag.nitrate from hydrated salt. Solubility of GpII nitrates down the group. Comparison of Mag.nitrate with AgNO#

    Q2 Ionic (Acid-Base) Eqm.
    pKa of substituted carbox acids. (I still can’t answer Q2 b ii) !!!)
    half-cell diagram of Cu/Cu
    Calc E(std)cell. I.D. the + electrode.
    pH Calc of a weak acid, given Ka
    A halfcell isn’t under std condns ==> use Nernst eqn. Eqn is given to students, with oxidised species already in the log term.

    Q3. AS organic. simple functional group interconversions reaction scheme, reagents and conditions. Bascicity of amines and comparison to ammonia.
    Amine and their slats buffer! Ooooh, a twist. This is a basic buffer, but not a major twist.
    Gove reactions showing how wB and salt act as a buffer (show rxns with H+ and OH-)

    Q4. cis-Platin. Stereoiomers and it’s polarity. Analogues of cic-platin and their non-stereoisomerism.
    A new nickel complex with 4 ligands. Stereochem based Q’s on that.

    Q5. 2 fifferent equilibria stated. Give Kstab equation for of the equilibria (equilibria were Cd2+(aq) to some amine complex complex) using amine based ligands. A ‘find the conc” Q based on Kstab equation. Enthalpy/entropy/Gibbs data for thoquestion, asking reasons why one is more stable.

    Q6. Hydrolysis of esters….. using enxymes.
    Lock and key diagrams accompanied by explantion. 13C specta of some esters – use shem shift to determine what the sample is.
    Chemical tests for distinguish two different aryl eters.

    Q7. Amino acids. Electrophoresis diagram and explanation of how ti works. Different electrophoresis pH buggers available. Which beffer will separate a misture of separate AA’s (use the data book to examine the side groups).
    Draw a dipeptide.
    IR of AA’s – assign peaks on the IR to dipeptide structure.

    Q8. Golubility of GpII hydroxides going down GpII
    Possible trick question about Rzn of Ca(s) with HCl and HNO#…. what differeneces in enthalpy are there (I can’t think of any!!! I don’t think there is a difference…. OOOPs…. Just realised….. The only thing that’s different is the anion, hence hydration of the anion may change and give different dH values.)
    Construct a Hess cycle.
    Classic question – wapooing rxn of Ca(s) from a strong acid to a weak acid, therefore less enthalpy of rxn as some is absorbed in ionising the eak acid as the reaction proceeds.

    Q9. Aromatic (and aliphatic) organic reactions scheme (reaction paht). Friedel Crafts acylation, CN nuc attack on acyl to give cyanohydron. Hydolysis of cyanohydrin and then a dehydration a beta-hydroxy carbox acid to an alpha-,beta-unsaturated carbox acid. Then a REAL TRICKY reaction of an alkene to an alkane. Use H2 and Nicatalyst? or LiAlH4 in dry ether? Realisation of the answer still hasn’t come to me.
    Give reagents and conditions. Name mechanism and type of reaction.

    Q10. Complexes (Fe3). They tap into the high-spin low-spin complexes, which is a touch naughty, but actuve students who’ve reasd around the subject will have come across this and coped with the question better. Sn2+/Sn4+ ‘half cell’ like material added added into Fe2+/Fe3+ solution. USe data book to (calculate) deduce what the feasible reaction is.
    Fe(aq) complexs with 1F- ligand. Ridiculous questions about the colour of Fe3+ + SCN-.
    Using Kstab (Again) to ponder possibility of SCN dispalacing an F ligand from the Fe(H2O)]3+ complex. Name type of reaction.

    I an guessing that you are going to get a kinetics based planning exercise on P5. Very possibly the disappearing cross” experiment in which S(s) is precipitated out). OR the “iodine clock” type reactions. LOOK THIS UP!!!!
    In fact I’m really sure this will come up. I mean there’s a whole page and a half in the syllabus (Kinetics) that hasn’t been tested yet!!

    Also you may get a question about electrochemical discharge. Using Q=It calculating the mass of a metal deposited.

    Tests to distinguish unknowns (inorganic and organic) is always a possibility too.

    OR a Hess cycle using enthalpy changes.

    Either one (or more!) of those are quite likely to come up (IMHO!!!!)

    OK. Goodnight all.

    Liked by 1 person

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