Beginner’s Guide To Year 11 Chemistry

In our Year 11 Chemistry Guide, we explain the key syllabus points for each Module, so you can stay ahead of the pack!

In this Guide to Year 11 Chemistry , you’ll find everything you need to know about each of the Modules and an overview of the sorts of assessments you’ll face.


All about the Beginner’s Guide to Year 11 Chemistry

Year 11 Chemistry is the foundation that Year 12 Chemistry is built upon.

The concepts you master in Year 11 will help you do well in the HSC. The Year 11 Chemistry course will cover the properties of different chemicals, and how we can quantify the amount of any substance. You will learn the basics of chemical reactivity, and the factors that affect it.

This handy guide is intended as a brief summary of the must-know content for the Year 11 syllabus. It’s a perfect place to start to build a study plan or to take a sneak peek at what you will be learning in the term ahead. In this guide, we will go through each of the core modules of Year 11 Chemistry:

What’s in this Guide

In this Guide, we’ll look at the following Modules and topics:

1. Properties of Structure and Matter

  • Properties of Matter
  • Atomic structure and atomic mass
  • Periodicity
  • Bonding


2. Introduction to Quantitative Chemistry

  • Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry
  • Mole Concept
  • Concentration and Molarity
  • Gas Laws


3. Reactive Chemistry

  • Chemical Reactions
  • Predicting Reactions of Metals
  • Rates of Reactions


4. Drivers of Reactions

  • Energy Changes in Chemical Reactions
  • Enthalpy and Hess’s Law
  • Entropy and Gibbs Free Energy



What type of questions can I expect in my assessments?

Broadly, exam questions in chemistry can be divided into several types:

  • Knowledge Questions
  • Calculation Questions
  • Analysis Questions

Knowledge questions will typically ask you to explain or rationalise something in terms of the underlying chemical principles. You can be asked to recall things you have learnt and will have to construct a logical answer that includes key pieces of information in order to score full marks. You can also be asked to apply your existing knowledge of chemistry to a new situation, which will test your understanding of underlying chemical principles.

Calculation questions can be spotted immediately, as numerical data will be provided, and a numerical answer will be required. When answering a calculation question, you must be able to recall and apply relevant formulae, complete and record all working out, and give an answer to the correct number of significant figures.

An Analysis question will provide you with a piece of data in the form of a chart, table or similar. You may or may not be familiar with the type of data that is being presented. You will need to be able to examine the information provided and extract data (for example, interpolation) and draw logical conclusions.

Remember, a good exam will test all your subject knowledge, and as such will contain questions with a range of different marks and difficulties. In general, you can expect questions with fewer marks allocated to be easier and assess only one area of knowledge. More complex examination questions may combine the three types of question listed above and combine multiple syllabus areas to assess the depth of your understanding.

Finally, it is important to learn chemical principles in your studies, as opposed to learning how to “answer the question”. Examiners will always try to test how well you understand concepts, not how well you have rote-learned processes or answers.


What are some common student issues?

Many students find some aspects of the year 11 chemistry syllabus difficult! That’s ok – but eventually you must understand all the content, as your year 11 knowledge will carry through to provide a solid foundation for your year 12 chemistry studies. Below is a short list of common problems that you should keep an eye out for. If you are having any of these problems, make sure to address them before you head into year 12!

  • Students often struggle to score full marks when asked to “explain” a chemistry concept –questions with the key word “explain” require students to relate cause and effect. This means you should show how or why one thing leads to another. Make sure you address the question in a structured fashion.
  • Students rote learn how to answer a specific type of question instead of learning the underlying principles of chemistry. This might be easier short-term, but this behaviour will hurt your performance in the long run.
  • Students forget to use significant figures and units in answers to calculations.
  • Students lose marks for diagrams – draw neat diagrams with a pencil and ruler when appropriate and don’t forget to label drawn diagrams adequately.
  • Students lose marks for graphs – points should be marked with crosses, a smooth curve/line of best fit should be added, and the axes should not start at 0 unless appropriate.
  • Students have trouble writing balanced chemical equations – ensure to include the correct formulae for all species, balance with coefficients and include subscripts for states. You must be able to recall the ionic charge of common species, write ionic formula and recall the formulae of common substances. You also need to know the diatomic elements. Write a list and copy it down every night to help this information sink in.
  • Students have trouble performing more complex calculations – repeatedly practice calculation questions and memorise the formula required. The mole concept is crucial in chemistry and you must master it in order to do well. All working in calculations must be formatted so a marker can read it! If quantities are given for more than one reactant, then the question is a limiting reagent calculation. You must be able to identify this and perform the appropriate calculation.


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