Chemistry – Oxidation & Reduction explained!

Chemistry – Oxidation & Reduction explained!

This article has been written by Stephane Biggs, a VCE Physics, VCE Further Maths, VCE Math Methods & VCE Specialist Maths Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Stephane then please check out her page here.


If you’re like me, you’ll find this chapter terribly confusing in the textbook… But a little explanation can go a long way. It’s actually quite easy to balance redox equations when you know the steps and understand all the terms involved. There are a lot of juicy points that can be scored, so this article will focus on explaining in a simple way what all the terms mean and how to use them in tongue-twisting exercises! First up: oxidation.

Oxidation

Oxidation is the process of oxidizing. It occurs when the charge of the reactant goes up. For example lead oxidizes in the following unbalanced reaction:

Pb —> Pb2+

The charge of the lead (Pb) has gone from 0 to 2+. The charge has increased. In English, we would say that oxidation has occurred. The Pb has been oxidized to Pb2+. Since the charge is going up, oxidation occurs when the reactant loses electrons. Confusing? Don’t think of oxidation in terms of electrons, think of it in terms of charge.

Reduction

Reduction, on the other hand, is the process of reducing. It occurs when the charge of the reactant is reduced (going down). For example H+ ions can be reduced to H2 with the following unbalanced reaction:

2H+ —> H2

The charge of the H+ has gone from +1 to 0 The charge has decreased. We therefore say that reduction has occurred. The H+ has been reduced to H2. Since the charge is being reduced, reduction occurs when the reactant gains electrons.

In summary, when imagining oxidation and reduction in your head – what it means – you need to think in terms of charge. Reduction occurs, when the charge goes down, or is reduced. You mustn’t think in terms of the electrons, because reduction occurs when there is a gain of electrons, which can be quite confusing… so focus on the charge only when picturing oxidation and reduction in your mind.

Oxidants & Reductants

Only once you’ve fully digested what oxidation and reduction mean, should you move onto this subheading. At first sight, it may seem very confusing: when a reactant is oxidized, that reactant is a reductant; on the other hand, when a reactant is reduced, it is an oxidant!

To help explain this seeming contradiction, you need to picture an oxidant as an oxidizing agent. The oxidant will cause the other reactants to be oxidized, even though the oxidant itself is being reduced. The same principle applies in reverse for reductants: they are reducing agents – they cause the other reactants to be reduced.

The best way to make oxidation, reduction, oxidants and reductants part of your vocabulary without having to think deeply about them for 30 seconds every time, is to practice, practice, practice. Very soon, it will all click and make sense. Do plenty of exercises – twice if necessary. Once you fully grasp the meaning of these terms without thinking twice, you will be in a much better position to solve more complex chemistry questions, such as balancing redox equations. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Improve At School Without Opening A Single Textbook, 2U Maths Tips from a Past Student (98 in 2U Maths)! and ATAR Success Tips from a 99+ ATAR Student!

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LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Chemistry – Oxidation & Reduction explained!
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Headstart Checklist for VCE Chemistry

Headstart Checklist for VCE Chemistry


Before you begin looking over what you will be learning in Units 3 and 4 Chemistry, it will be best for you to revise over some key concepts listed in this article. Having a solid foundation of these concepts will put you on the path in succeeding Chemistry in 2018.

So, what are the important concepts from Units 1 and 2 Chemistry?

  1. Moles – You would have encountered this topic in Unit 1 Chemistry. Ensure that you understand what a ‘mole’ is, and know how to perform calculations associated with moles.
  1. Intermolecular forces – dispersion forces, dipole-dipole attractions and hydrogen bonding are bonds that forms between molecules. They are important in determining the melting and boiling points of molecules.
  1. Organic compounds – in Units 3 and 4 Chemistry you will encounter more organic compounds in addition to the ones you learnt in Unit 1 Chemistry. Ensure that you are familiar with naming organic compounds according to the IUPAC system.
  1. Specific heat capacity – from Unit 2 Chemistry
  1. Acid-base reactions – know the general acid-base principles
  1. Redox reactions – know the general redox principles (oxidation, reduction, reductants, oxidants); also make sure that you know how to write a balanced half-equation
  1. Stoichiometry – a very important concept. If you are not familiar with the calculations associated with stoichiometry make sure that you seek help ASAP. It is crucial that you understand this topic!!
  1. Volumetric analysis – general concepts; will be covered again in Unit 4 Chemistry so make sure you are familiar with it!
  1. Chromatography – will essentially be again in Unit 4 Chemistry, so make sure that you understand the general principles behind chromatography.

These are the topics from Units 1 and 2 Chemistry which I think are important for you to go over before you begin Units 3 and 4 Chemistry. My revision tip would be for you to go over your notes that cover those topics and attempt questions from your textbook that relate to those topics. If you are struggling with some of the above-mentioned topics especially stoichiometry, make sure that you seek assistance from someone, and don’t just ignore it. You won’t be covering stoichiometry specifically in Units 3 and 4 Chemistry, but it will be something you are expected to know.

Good luck

Henry Ja (Article is written based on the opinion of the author)


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Headstart Checklist for VCE Chemistry
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Why Doing Practice Exams Won’t Help You Succeed in the Chemistry Exams

Why doing practice exams won’t help you succeed in the Chemistry Exams

This article has been written by Henry Ja, a Chemistry tutor at LearnMate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Henry, then please check out his page here.


The title of this article might seem counterintuitive given what you have been told by your teachers, past students or tutors. However, one of the biggest misconception that students have when it comes to doing practice exams is that quantity trumps quality. That is not the case!!

The purpose of practice exams is to not only allow you to apply what you have learnt into questions but also to help you identify what your weaknesses are and this is what you want to address before the REAL exam comes.

You should be doing as many exams as you can, but if you don’t take the time to analyse each exam to see where you went wrong, then there is really no point and you are just wasting your time in doing them.

So, here are my tips when it comes to doing practice exams:

  1. Do within the specified time – most exams have a time limit on the front page, try to stick to that time and see whether you can finish the entire paper within the specified time. It’s one thing to know all your stuff, but another thing to get that stuff written down on paper within time constraints.
  2. Take a break before going through solutions – although you may be tempted to correct your exam once you have finished don’t! Take a break and come back later to mark it. Your mind will be much clearer and you will be able to think better.
  3. Get someone else to mark it – get your friend or tutor or even your teacher (if they have time) to mark your paper. Your end of year Chemistry exam is not going to be marked by you but by someone who doesn’t even know who you are.
  4. Focus on questions that you got wrong – once your exam has been marked, go through it and find the answers you got wrong and try to understand why you got it wrong. Was it because you forgot to carry the one when adding or did you not understand a particular concept? If after looking at the explanations for the correct answer, and you still don’t know why you got the answer wrong, go and ask for help from your teacher, tutor or friend. It is so important that you understand why you got a question wrong and don’t just pass it off as nothing! You never know the same question (asked in a different context) might appear in the real exam!
  5. Take care doing exams pre-2017 – a new study design came into effect in a year and so exams pre-2017 will contain questions that won’t be examined. If in doubt check with your teacher and/or tutor.

I hope these tips will help you as you work your way towards the Chemistry Exam.

Remember to ask for help from your teachers or tutors if you need help. They will be more than willing to help you out.

Good luck!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Why Doing Practice Exams Won’t Help You Succeed in the Chemistry Exams
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5 HABITS OF A HIGH ACHIEVING ATAR STUDENT

5 Habits of a High Achieving ATAR Student

This article has been written by Aasma Chougle, a tutor at LearnMate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Aasma, then please check out her page here.


In the lead up to exams, true accomplishment comes from developing key study and lifestyle habits that are going to ensure you go into finals with the right attitude. Here are five habits that can help you start preparing for your exams and achieve the grades that you want! Remember it only takes 21 days to form a habit so the time is now!

  1. Make a study plan (and stick to it)

Set yourself small tasks to do for each subject and build it up in the lead up to exams. This way you’re walking in well prepared with all your knowledge down pat

Don’t overcomplicate your plan. It can be as simple as the one I made!

  1. Eat

Foods rich in protein such as almonds, eggs, and chicken have been proven to improve long-term memory retention. This ensures that your brain won’t have to work as hard in remembering all the content you have learned over the year

  1. Exercise

Going for a ten-minute walk or jog can not only give you a much-needed break from the books but it can also boost your productivity.

If you’re like me and you don’t like exercise meditation is a great alternative which can help calm your nerves as well as develop long-term memory

  1. Go to bed early

A good night’s sleep gives your brain time to create connections between the content you have learnt throughout the day

  1. Practice

I cannot stress this enough. The more practice you do leading up to the exams, the better you’re going to perform. Make sure to expose yourself to as many different types of problems as possible so you’re well prepared

The above habits have worked for me time and time again. I hope you find these helpful and good luck for your exams!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

5 HABITS OF A HIGH ACHIEVING ATAR STUDENT
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Preparing for the End of Year VCE Chemistry Exam

My Tips for Success in VCE Chemistry

This article has been written by Henry Ja, a Chemistry tutor at LearnMate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Henry, then please check out his page here.


The end of year VCE Chemistry Exam is fast approaching and the time to start revision is NOW.

What can you do to help you prepare? Well, there are several things:

  1. Finalise your notes – make sure that you finish writing up your notes as soon as possible, as you don’t want to spend most of your revision time writing up notes. This is a waste of your time!
  2. Attend revision lectures – there will be a lot of revision lectures on offer during the Term 3 holidays. If you feel like you need a refresher on the course, then attend one of these lectures.
  3. Clear up any issues ASAP – if there are certain topics that you are not confident with making sure that you seek help ASAP from your teacher and/or tutor. They will be more than willing to help you out.
  4. Assemble a study group – study groups work well if they are productive. You can quiz each other on questions and can help one another out.
  5. Do practice exams – Make sure that you attempt as much past exam questions as you can. Chemistry is a subject where memorisation will not help you get the high marks. It is all about applying what you have learnt to questions in different contexts. But in saying that don’t just aim to do a lot of practice exams – its quality over quantity. Make sure that you understand why you got a question wrong, and if you don’t know why then go and ask your teacher or tutor for help. The whole point of practice exams is to help identify the areas you are weak in and to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes in the real exam.
  6. Down time – make sure that you give yourself some time to take a break from studying. You cannot study 24/7, and you will be more productive if you give yourself a break. Go outside for a walk or head off to the gym. Exercising can help you relax and you will feel more eager to study once you have given yourself that downtime.
  7. Eat appropriately – Make sure that you eat healthy foods and don’t resort to takeaway/fast food. Giving your body the appropriate nutrients will help you function better and feel better in general. Make sure that you have lots of fruits and vegetables!
  8. Sleep – make sure that you get enough sleep. Don’t study until 2 am in the morning! It’s no use and your brain won’t be very productive at that time of the day.

LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Preparing for the End of Year VCE Chemistry Exam
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