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An Overview of 2024 Chemistry Study Design

An Overview of 2024 Chemistry Study Design

In 2024,VCAA publishes a new chemistry study design for Unit 3/4 chemistry, while Unit1/2 wereupdated in 2023. This poses a great challenge for students sitting theirchemistry exam at the end of this year due to the uncertainty brought in by theupdate. While the sample exam is yet to be published by VCAA, I will beexplaining and analyzing the changes in structure and the addition of newcontents mainly based on the study design published at VCAA website. And as apast chemistry student scored 47 in 2022, I will also be giving out a few tips onstudying the new study design and preparing for the exam.


Contentwise, there is no major change compared to the old chemistry study design. For Unit 3 AOS1, fuels and energy are still the focus. In this area of study, students learnabout different types of fuels and the combustion of fuels to produce energy. Thisis followed by redox reactions and galvanic cells, exploring design features ofcells and associated redox reactions that allow the generation of electricity. InAOS 2, we move the focus to rate and extent of reaction and how these factorsaffect efficiency of an industrial process.

Moving onto Unit 4, we delve into organic chemistry. While appreciating the diversity oforganic compounds, qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques areembedded in this area.

Throughoutthe chemistry study design, stoichiometric calculation is still a crucial skill that is100% assessed in VCAA exams. It has been interweaved within multiple areas ofstudy, such as energy calculations, Faraday’s Law calculations and yieldcalculations etc. Therefore, having a great understanding of conversion basedon ratio and constantly practicing on this area are the key to success.

Besides,experimental design is another important aspect. In this area of study, wefocus on investigation techniques and evaluation skills. The second lastquestion in a chemistry exam is always an investigation type question,therefore it would be helpful to consolidate these skills early on in yourchemistry study.

Changein structure

In the new chemistrystudy design, certain area of study has been fragmented and rearranged. Thewhole Unit 4 AOS 2, food chemistry, from the previous syllabus has been dividedup into ‘fuels for the body and calorimetry’, ‘reactions involvingbiomacromolecules’ as well as ‘protein-based catalysts’, and has beendistributed into Unit 3 AOS1, Unit 4 AOS 1 and Unit 4 AOS 2 respectively. This presentsa challenge since the fragmented contents are relatively difficult for us toform a holistic picture and to comprehend in one piece. For example, aftergetting an idea of biomacromolecules that are significant in maintaining lifeat the start of the year, we are distracted by loads of contents before we comeback for the reactions of these molecules. A general tip to handle thissituation is to keep track of the contents and revise as you go. You may alsoconstruct your own mind map that can be left uncompleted until you have studiedthe whole picture at the end of the year.


What mostpeople care about is the addition of content into the new chemistry study design. Themajor changes for 2024 include medicinal chemistry and sustainable chemistry.

In the areaof medicinal chemistry, we are exploring a variety of organic substances thatcan be used as medicine, and the way we isolate and purify these compounds. Also,we are looking at enzymes and their inhibition on a molecular level, which ispart of the old chemistry study design and questions on these can be easily found in pastVCAA papers.

In the new chemistry study design, more attention is drawn to the sustainable development ofchemistry industry with green chemistry principles, echoing the United Nationssustainable development goals. While still focusing on the renewability andsustainability of fuels, we are also exploring the options for green hydrogenproduction, innovation of energy efficient fuel cells and sustainableproduction of chemicals.

Contentrelated to sustainability and renewability is commonly tested in the very lastextensive response question in past VCAA exams, where generally more than 7marks are allocated. So, it is very important to come up with a well-structuredand comprehensive response. Aside from studying specific innovations andmethods, gauging a thorough understanding of concept of sustainability as wellas green chemistry principles is crucial.

There are afew other minor new contents been added, including a more detailed study onphotosynthesis and cellular respiration in the first area of study, as well assome laboratory and instrumental analytical techniques. The changes seemoverwhelming, but gauging a good and thorough understanding is always the key.

Changesin data book

Alongsidethe new chemistry study design, an updated version of data book is available on VCAAwebsite. Compared to the older version, it is more detailed and more ‘helpful’.A table of formula and charges of important ions as well as a solubility tableare included to take off some burden in memorizing. Also, some related UNsustainability development goals as well as green chemistry principles areincluded to aid the understanding in sustainability. You are encouraged to get yourselffamiliar with the data book before your exam.


As astudent who sat biology exam on the first year of chemistry study design update, Itotally understand how challenging it is to study while there is a lack ofmaterial and past exam papers. Many students are overwhelmed since they have noidea what the questions will look like and how the questions are marked.Adjusting to a positive mindset is the first step. Instead of being trapped inpanic, think that all students who will be sitting chemistry exam in 2024 arein exactly the same situation as you. No one has access to new content relatedquestions in past papers. Given the exam is a ranking test, you are NOTdisadvantaged at all. On a more practical ground, it would be helpful topractice on the sample exam when it gets published and analyze the markallocations. Overall, embrace the uncertainty and develop a comprehensiveunderstanding of new concepts, you are already halfway to success.


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