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Preliminary Chemistry Concepts You Need to Know for the HSC

In this post, we explain why the fundamentals you've learned in Year 11 Chemistry are the backbone for success in Year 12!

You might already know that your marks from Year 11 Chemistry won’t count towards your HSC mark, but don’t throw out all your Year 11 notes just yet. The Preliminary Course is assumed knowledge for the HSC course, where you’ll be exploring the concepts you learned previously in greater depth. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important concepts you need to know inside out to ensure you have a solid foundation for success in Year 12 Chemistry.

Mole Calculations

Moles are the central currency of chemistry. All throughout Year 12 (and later, if you decide to do science-related studies at university), you’ll be performing calculations where you’ll convert from moles to:

  • mass
  • concentration
  • gas volume at 0 °C and 25 °C

and vice versa. You should have committed these equations to memory:

Science blog

You’ll also need to be able to solve straightfoward mole calculations as well as limiting reactant questions, where one or more reactants are left over after the reaction is complete.

Intermolecular Forces

In Year 11 chemistry, you learned about the three types of intermolecular forces that govern interactions between molecules:

  • Dispersion forces
  • Dipole-dipole interactions
  • Hydrogen bonding

Questions will often need you to remember when each intermolecular force arises, what their strength depends on, and how they relate to physical properties like boiling point, volatility and solubility.

Ionic Formulae and Common Compounds

Can you quickly work out the formula of an ionic compound from its name? Then congratulations – you’re well on your way to acing Year 12 chemistry! If you’re a bit rusty, try to get in some revision before you get bogged down in assignments.

Polyatomic ions will frequently show up in questions too, as well as the formulae for common compounds like water, ammonia, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid.

Rate of Reaction and Enthalpy

The physical chemistry concepts you studied in the Preliminary Course will show up again in Year 12. This includes:

  • factors that affect the rate of reaction
  • reaction profile diagrams
  • the difference between exothermic and endothermic reactions
  • how to use the equation ∆H = mC∆T

Are You Prepared For Your Upcoming Chemistry HSC Exam?

The HSC is just around the corner! Our 6 day intensive HSC Exam Prep course will get you exam ready. In each 3-hour session, you’ll

  • Revise the core topics in detail;
  • Boost your confidence by improving your depth of knowledge and understanding of key Chemistry concepts;
  • Gain essential Chemistry exam techniques to help you write extended responses that are succinct, logical and sequential using tools such as flow-charts, tables and summaries.

Click here to learn more about the Chemistry HSC Exam Prep Course.

Written by Matrix Education

Matrix is Sydney's No.1 High School Tuition provider. Come read our blog regularly for study hacks, subject breakdowns, and all the other academic insights you need.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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