Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Levels Chemistry Practical

Posted by CLF

NOTE: There's lots of chemistry terms and symbols below, which might confuse those who aren't taking Chemistry. Proceed at your own "risk", heh.

Preparing for the test

  • Candidates are required to bring their lab coat, goggle, exam registration slip, identity card and calculator to the exam. Also, candidates must present at the lab 15 mins prior the actual exam time to avoid any delays.
  • Check the instruments and apparatus before starting the exam. Any damage or leakage must be reported to the examiner as soon as possible.
  • Remember, practical paper takes up 23% of the AS Chemistry paper. It is the paper to determine whether you'll be getting an A or not.


  • A white tile is provided for better observation to spot the colour change during titration.
  • The burette and pipette have to be rinsed with the solution before use to avoid any contamination and inaccuracy measurement of the solutions used.
  • Value for rough titration is always greater than accurate titration.

Burette & Pipette


  • Do not place the practical report too close to the titration setup to avoid the solutions spilled onto the paper.
  • Example table to record titration readings:
Titration Rough

1 2 3
Final /cm3 26.70 26.30 26.50 26.25
Initial /cm3 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Volume /cm3 26.70 26.30 26.50 26.25

Note: At least 2 readings with the margin ≤ 0.10 cm3 are taken as the experiment result.

Salt analysis - testing for the ions

Test for cations

  • Adding 1cm3 reagent is considered "equal amount". Measurement more than 2cm3 is considered excess.
  • Take notes of the cations Pb2+, Al3+ & Zn2+. These 3 amphoteric ions exhibits special observations in order to deduce the ions. The ions will form white ppt upon adding NaOH drop by drop, and will dissolve in excess NaOH to form a clear solution. When the solution is treated with HNO3, the white ppt will form again. This test is only valid for the 3 ions as mentioned above. The reason behind this is because the hydroxide ions form are insoluble white ppt, and the hydroxide will further react with excess OH- to form a complex ions which are soluble. This can be referred to Le Chatelier's principle.
  • Pb2+ can be distinguished from Al3+ by reacting with Cl- to form PbCl2, an insoluble solution.
  • Some high-charged ions, eg: Al3+, Fe3+ & Cr3+ can exhibit acidic properties, especially when reacting with CO32- to form CO2 gas.
  • Transition element ions, eg: Cu2+, Fe2+, Cr3+ & Mn2+ are coloured solutions. Therefore it's easy to deduce the ions based on their significant colours, for example, Cu2+ is a blue solution.

From left to right, aqueous solutions of: Co(NO3)2 (red); K2Cr2O7 (orange); K2CrO4 (yellow); NiCl2 (green); CuSO4 (blue); KMnO4 (purple).


  • HCl is a useful reagent to test for certain ions. If there's no gas evolved when HCl is added, one can deduce that SO32-, NO2- and CO32- is absent. These 3 anions will react with HCl and gases will evolve. The gases evolved are SO2, NO2, & CO2 respectively. Test for the gases will be listed below.

Test for gases:

Gas Test Observation
CO2 React with acid (CO32-) Effervescence/ bubbles evolved. Gas turns limewater cloudy.
SO2 React with acid (SO32-) Colourless gas with smoking smell, turns K2Cr2O7 from orange to green. (smells like burning matchstick)
NO2 React with acid (NO2-) Brown gas evolved with pungent smell.
NH3 Heating (NH4+) Pungent gas evolved. Turn damp red litmus paper blue.

Note: When heating a solution, it's best to prepare 2 damp litmus papers (red & blue) and place it on top of the boiling tube when heating to test the gas evolved.

  • AgNO3 is the common reagent to test for halides: Cl-, Br-, I-. Observations are white ppt, pale cream ppt and yellow ppt respectively.
  • Heating a solution with Al foil is to test NO3- & NO2-.
  • Ba2+ is the reagent to test SO42- & SO32-.
  • It is possible that the salt analysis part is replaced by organic compounds tests.
  • I've made a slideshow presentation identifying cations. You can view the slide here.


  • During calculations, answers which haven't been finalised may be written in 4 or 5 sf (significant figures). Only the final answer for the question need to be rounded up to 2sf or 3sf.
  • If unsure with the significant figures needed for the answer, put 3sf instead.
  • Approximation sign () cannot be used in answering the question unless stated in the question.
  • Reading from burette is always written in 2 decimal places, eg: 25.75 cm3. Note that the 2nd decimal number must be either 0 or 5.
  • Pipette reading is fixed at 25.0 cm3.
  • Thermometer reading is usually written in 1 decimal place figure, eg: 35.4°C.
  • Types of errors:
    • Systematic error: faulty instruments giving zero error (thermometer, stopwatch).
    • Random error: error due to the surroundings (wind, heat).
  • Estimated error for burette reading = half of the smallest division = 0.05cm3.
  • Oxidation states and ΔH (kJ mol-1) must write + or - .
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  1. thanks, hope this helps with my CIE practical (31) for chem tomorrow morning here in New Zealand

  2. My 31 chemistry practical is 3 days from now cie (31). If anyone anywhere in the world gets the paper please help your brother out :P

  3. is this practical the same as in pakistan?

  4. woohoo! that's TAR college's chem lab! =D

  5. I'm a homeschooler and a private candidate for A-level in Malaysia. I didn't take O-level exam due to my financial constraint. I'm now preparing for my A-level. I want to attend lab work sessions and sit for Chemistry/Physics/Biology Practical exam paper. Where should I go and who would be able to assist me? Fyi, I'm studying the science subjects on my own. Please guide me.

  6. same problem faced by me as anonymous. DO you know where can I get help from that. Anyway, I am taking Physics AS/A2 in OCT/NOV 2013 sitting. please help...

    1. I am also having the same problems... i dont know if can do the practical exams :( if anyone out there have any advice, please do share it with me

  7. same problem here. my chemistry AS theory is pretty sound. i'm worried about my practical though. is there anywhere in KL where we can practice our practicals?

  8. Who is taking AS chemistry practical this year ? (33)

  9. Is anybody know where to go for chemistry practical lesson in KL?


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