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How Important Is The Periodic Table For Chemistry?

By September 18, 2021October 13th, 2021A Level Chemistry, O Level Chemistry

Prior to taking Chemistry as a core science elective in upper secondary level, students may not be familiar with the term “Periodic Table” even if they have heard about it before. However, for Chemistry students at any level, seeing the periodic table is as common as bread and butter for them. School or tuition teachers alike will always reference back to this table as well.

What to look out for in a Chemistry periodic table?

The Chemistry periodic table contains all the possible elements found in Chemistry from the smallest element of hydrogen up to the heavy, radioactive ones like uranium. There are a lot of information that one can derive from this simple table which will assist students in answering many questions from O levels to A levels and is an indispensable tool at the student’s disposal.

The mass number which is the larger of two numbers found in each box of the table signifies the weight of an atom of that particular element while the smaller number signifies the number of protons or electrons found in a single atom. The smaller number, otherwise known as the atomic number, is the more important of the two as it is what determines the categorization of the different elements, from Group I to Group VIII. It will also help Chemistry students identify the electronic configuration of any element and how to visually represent them in drawings and diagrams.

The grouping system is an important aspect of a periodic table as it can be used to sort out the elements in terms of their innate characteristics, as elements found in Group I to III are metallic elements while Group IV to VII are mostly non-metallic elements. Group VIII is unique as it composes of elements that are stable or innate, a.k.a. non-reactive in general. These tend to reveal the general characteristics of the columns of elements, as Group I to III tend to give away electrons to form a stable configuration when reacting with Group IV to VII elements and their molecular bonding structure are mostly metallic. Group IV to VII elements tend to receive electrons to form a stable configuration when reacting with Group I to III elements and the molecules of these elements tend to possess covalent bonding between the atoms. It may get confusing for some students and this is where having Chemistry tuition will help get students more familiar with the different concepts and applications of the different rules.

There are also many elements not found in any of the groups and are usually located in the middle of the table. These are known as transition metals where these elements can display multiple oxidation states that deviate away from a fixed grouping system depending on the circumstances that they are found. What is interesting is that depending on the oxidation state that they are presently in, they will give off different colours unlike their Group I to III cousins.

Any purpose of having a Chemistry periodic table on hand while studying?

Students will always refer to the periodic table during their Chemistry lessons or exams for many calculation questions that will require the use of atomic numbers. The grouping system will help students to identify the kind of chemical bonding that may be present and whether a possible reaction will take place or not. Formulating Chemistry equations is also essential for any students taking their O or A level Chemistry exams and that is where the periodic table can be put to good use.

Although the periodic table is a major tool for tackling Chemistry questions, but it is not omnipotent and hence, students should not get complacent in their Chemistry study or revision. If they find themselves struggling with the Chemistry, always try to seek help early in the form of consultation with their school teacher or consider signing up for Chemistry tuition to help brush up their foundation so that they can have an easier time eventually.

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