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6 tips to do well in lower sec science

6 Study Tips To Excel Lower Secondary Science

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When it comes to school subjects, secondary school science can be one of the tricker ones your child would face. In addition to being split into three distinct types, the incorporation of creative questions and theoretical study adds to the course’s complexity.

To elaborate, here are the types of science in secondary school:



Physics studies the natural matter and energy around us, and everything that is related. The aim of this subject is for your child to understand how our world works.

For example, Physics allows your child to study the outcome or any object when energy is applied. A good instance would be how water eventually boil if we continuously heat it over fire. Fire is basically heat energy, and when we apply it to water, it boils.

Of course, this is just a simple overview. This subject contains a lot more, such as gravity, astronomy, atomic, nuclear physics, etc. From a miniscule atom to the astronomical expanse we call space, everything that involves matter and energy would fall under Physics.



To put it simply, Chemistry involves studying matter and energy.

You might be saying, “Hey! Isn’t that just Physics?” The answer is: No. The thing is, they differ in scope and approach. Physics lean towards studying the universe, while Chemistry is more on the individual molecules, chemicals, and chemical reactions.

To break it down, Chemistry can be split into five branches, all of which are further delved into at school or tuition classes. Although this is never categorised to your child, it is still good to know:

Analytical Chemistry: It is the science of obtaining, processing, and communicating information regarding a matter’s composition and structure. In here, your child seeks to determine what matter is and how much presence it has.

Physical Chemistry: This branch studies the macroscopic and microscopic phenomena in chemical systems. It is related to physics’ principles, practices and concepts. Examples may include thermodynamics, force, time, motion, energy, statistical mechanics, analytical dynamics and chemical equilibria.

Organic Chemistry: Organic Chemistry focuses on the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of compounds that have carbon in them. It is often called the “Chemistry of Life” because all living things and organisms will always contain carbon in their structure.

Inorganic Chemistry: This is basically the inverse of Organic Chemistry. This is the analysis of the synthesis, reactions, structures and properties of compounds that does not contain carbon–hydrogen bonds.

Biochemistry: This branch studies the chemical processes within and relating to living things.



This is likely the easiest to distinguish between the three types of science. As long as it is related to life, it falls under Biology, because it is mainly studying living things. In Biology, they learn about evolution of living organisms and their interaction with the environment.

If your child loves animals, you might want to recommend them to study this subject, because it involves animal behaviour, environmental ecology marine biology, and more!

All in all, your child is now required to determine outcomes of scenarios by taking a more analytical perspective and critically investigating the concepts they have learned. Your child has to explore science with a creative outlook and learn how they shape daily matters, such as cause and effect, with the concepts they have learned.

Moreover, because the three types of science focus on all aspects of our lives, they have to understand the laws that govern our daily matter and interactions with the environment. As mentioned above, because the three types of science are all fundamentally different, pure memorisation will not help in all the topics.

All in all, to help your child with the three types of science, you should guide them in such a way that you can appeal to their interests rather than let them be overwhelmed by the complexity.

We should guide students to approach secondary school science in a way that it can appeal to their interests rather than let them be consumed by the complexity. Here are some simple but effective study tips that we have gathered to help your child perform well in the subject.


If your child struggles with lower secondary science, download our FREE Summarised Science Concepts Ebook (For Lower Secondary Science Students)

There are over 80 pages of detailed science content inside this FREE ebook!

Revise the important scientific knowledge before your child sits for the crucial exams.




1) Ensure that your child fully understands the concepts

In science, your child will make use of fundamental building blocks of thought that have depth. These are called concepts. In science, concepts contain keywords and is used to identify and know the terminology.

Words, such as energy, force, evaporation, heat, respiration, osmosis, and acceleration, are the keywords that help form concepts. They help develop abstractions in people’s minds when they try to understand what is happening in their world. Let’s take a look at this example:


Now, we might wonder, why did the cork float? Why did the metal sink? Well, it has got to do with this formula:

It is one thing for your child to memorise a formula. It’s another to be able to understand it. Here’s an example.

In the formula mentioned above, it’s stated the Density= Mass/Volume. However, when your child wants to look for Volume or Mass to determine the right answer, it’s likely they would have to change the formula to suit their needs.

Your child could try and memorise it, but it can hinder their ability to change the formula on the fly or how to apply it effectively. This can waste precious minutes, since they have limited time in the exam. This particularly applies to Physics, because itis like mathematics; they involve calculation, numbers, and formulas.

Your child should focus on trying to understand the concepts, rather than memorising them. Try to get them to remember the keywords, because the answers can be lengthy, so memorising them word for word does more harm than good.

Moreover, the keywords in the questions can hint to the topic they belong to and what the questions wants from your child.


 2) Visualise how the concepts work

Remember what we mentioned about density? Well, it also takes critical thinking to explain exactly how the objects float/sink in water. While it can be chalked up to “the items are less dense/denser than water”, we are actually looking at more than that.

If your child has a surface level understanding like this, imagine what happens if we throw this question at them: What happens if we replace the water with honey? Would the objects still float or sink?

Your child needs to note that even though water itself as a standard density, that doesn’t mean other liquids would be the same. In fact, here’s a diagram for the density of liquids:

By following this, it means that just because an object sinks in water, doesn’t mean they’d also sink in milk or honey. Another complication would be how temperature or mixing with other substances can change the density of water. Here’s proof of it:

When it comes to science, it’s good for your child to imagine the scenario and predict what would happen based on the factors provided in the question.

Speaking of visualisation, here’s a question to think about:

To solve this question, try and get your child to imagine what happens if they block the air from getting in the Bunsen burner, and what the colour of each flame means.


 3) Putting the concepts into practice

One of the fun ways to learn would be applying the concept into real life. Take this question for instance:

To get them to understand how to solve this question better, why not get your child to climb the stairs while carrying something and get them to calculate the work they had done? You can also get them to try and explain why they get tired climbing up the stairs as opposed to going down.

Because they have first-hand experience in moving their legs into working against gravity going up the stairs, chances are they will remember this.

You can even ask them the energy that they had converted to climb up the stairs. After all, when it comes to energy, there’s one simple rule: it can never be created nor destroyed. It can only be converted from one form of energy to another


 4) Creating a mind map

If your child is a visual learner, mind maps can help in visually organising information. While keywords are important to remember, it’s also just an important to organise them. Mind maps can help your child link different concepts and associate them with one another.

Creating links between different pieces of information and organising them into groups will help them remember more easily. In fact, research has revealed that mind mapping helps with memory and retention.

It also gives a more meaningful way to study since it challenges your child to apply and sort the information they had learned. Because secondary school science papers depend on their ability to apply knowledge, mind maps help them form links and figure out how they can apply what they learned under different scenarios.


 5) Being consistent in identifying weak points

Secondary school science can be a big jump from primary school science, and it is understandable if your child struggles at first. They should not be thinking of these test and assessments like a game, to see how many points they can garner before a game over.

While it’s undeniable that grades are important, they should not be thinking of it as an end goal. They need to think of exams and tests as a way to figure out the specific gaps and knowledge and areas of improvement they can work on.

That is why your child should always constantly mark the questions they do not know how to do and get feedback from their teachers. If there is a pattern on the questions, then the weak points would be identified easier.

For instance, the child would be able to figure out the question types they tend to make errors in. They would know which sections they have the most trouble.

Your child being consistent in consulting in questions they do not know how to do is better than giving an entire paper once and expecting a cure for their academic ailments.

Moreover, it serves as helpful information for us to help your child improve, and also allows for targeted practice, where your child practices on the topics they are weak at.


6) Start simple and work to the complicated questions.

Practising on challenging questions may seem like the best way to help your child, but in reality, less than 20% of the total score is allocated on this. Moreover, getting them to do challenging questions right away wouldn’t help your kid.

The key is to start simple: Start off with the easier questions, such as the multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Even if they do make guesses in the exams in the end, there’s a 25% chance they’d get it right. Nevertheless, do get them to try and work out the answer while practising.

Starting off easy helps them to recognise the topic and recall the science knowledge bit by bit.

Hence, by the time they get to the more challenging questions, such as in Paper 2, your child would be fully aware of the formulas and topic knowledge. Of course, if your child loves a challenge, you can focus on the intermediate and challenging questions.


Why is scoring well in science important?

When your child is going to secondary three, all schools would have something called subject combinations. They have a long-lasting impact on their future education choices, which is why it’s good for your child to think about what they want.

You have to get your child to choose carefully because once they choose their subject combination, there’s no turning back. Ensure that the subject combination they choose would allow them to apply for certain JC Subjects or Polytechnic Courses that they want.

However, just like PSLE school placings, whether your child would get the subject combination depends on their overall grades. The school, more often than not, will prioritise those with higher grades.

Hence, if your child wishes to choose pure Biology/Chemistry/Physics, they would have to prove that they can cope with the coursework by excelling in the subject. Otherwise, your child might be stuck with Combined Science, which is technically made up of two sciences, but it is counted as only one subject in the grading system.


Get your FREE Summarised Science Concepts Ebook (For Lower Secondary Science Students) for your teenage child!

There are over 80 pages of detailed science content inside this FREE ebook!

Revise the important scientific knowledge before your child sits for the crucial exams.


Talk again soon!

Andy Ling – Founder of ScienceShifu.com

Guiding your child to be the master of science concepts



Need detailed explanations of Secondary 1 science concepts (Semester 2)?

You can purchase this ebook here >>> https://scienceshifu.com/secondary-1-science-guidebook/



For pre-recorded courses at ScienceShifu >>> https://scienceshifu.com/all-courses/

For enquiries on our lower secondary pre-recorded course, you can send an email to HelloScienceShifu@gmail.com


For the All-In-One ‘Eureka!’ Program (including a premium suite of online zoom classes and other services), click here for the class schedules and fees at Grade Solution Learning Centre:

Primary levels >>> https://gradesolution.com.sg/online-zoom-classes/

Lower Secondary levels >>> https://gradesolution.com.sg/online-zoom-classes-lower-secondary/


For enquiries on our lower secondary live Zoom lessons, you can Whatsapp our Grade Solution admin at 8495 1120.


Both ScienceShifu and Grade Solution are affiliated.


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