HSC Chemistry: Guide to Modules 5-8

HSC Chemistry is separated into 4 modules of study. Each module focuses on a core area of chemistry that could be studied in the future.


Module 5: Equilibrium and Acid Reactions

 Although this module had “Acid Reactions” in its title, Module 5 centralises itself on Equilibrium, a chemical reaction where the rate of forward reaction (reactants to product) is equal to the rate of reverse reaction (products to reactants).


This module is essentially concerned with reversible reactions; otherwise known as equilibrium reactions. Several specific reactions are mentioned in the syllabus so be careful to prepare for those (iron (III) thiocyanate and cobalt (II) chloride hydrate for example).


The fundamental concepts that you must understand are:

  • Le Chatelier’s principle: This allows you to predict what will happen to an equilibrium if you change the temperature, pressure, concentration, volume, etc in a reactor. Sometimes, exams will ask you to try and graph these changes on concentration vs. time graphs.
  • Equilibrium constants: Allows you to quantify changes in an equilibrium. Being able to do calculations related to equilibrium constants is also an integral part of this module.
  • Solubility Products: Applying the idea of an equilibrium constant to specifically the dissolution of salts in water. You should learn how to describe and explain dissolution with regards to intermolecular forces.


Module 6: Acid/Base Reactions

 This module is the most calculation heavy out of the rest, however, also requires a thorough understanding of the mechanism behind various acid/base reactions and related concepts. The module is based on the Bronsted-Lowry Theory of acids and bases, even though there may be more accurate and modern theories explaining the behaviour of acids and bases.


Being able to write and balance chemical equations is a skill you must practice for this module. Make sure to revise all the practical investigations within this module, especially titration.


The main concepts and skills you will need to learn are:

  • Various chemical reactions involving acids and bases.
  • Application of acid/base reactions is everyday life. It is helpful to know a few of these chemical reactions for exams.
  • Evolution of the theories explaining acids and bases, including advantages and disadvantages of each theory. You should mainly focus on the Arrhenius’ theory and Bronsted-Lowry theory.
  • Application of Bronsted-Lowry theory in performing various calculations and experiments.
  • Being able to construct models to explain various processes.
  • Every little detail about titration, as it is a large component of this module. Watching videos of titrations may be helpful in learning the process. Titration calculations will always show up in exams so make sure you practice them.
  • Understanding and explaining buffer systems
  • Analysing graphs and data related to the module e.g., titration and conductivity graphs



Module 7: Organic Chemistry

 This module is easily the largest by content in the HSC Chemistry Syllabus and has the most information for students to memorise for exams, but it also has a lot of well-defined rules and concepts that can allow you to get easy marks. Remembering and understanding the several reactions in this module is usually the most challenging aspect, however, using flowcharts is very helpful in remembering all the reactions. It is very important to understand intramolecular and intermolecular forces for this module.


Practical investigations are also a large part of this module, so make sure you know the methods and expected results of these and are also able to explain these results.


The most important concepts and skills you’ll need to learn are:

  • Naming various types of organic compounds. Make sure to practice these a lot
  • Knowing and identifying the different types of isomers
  • Identifying functional groups for different organic compounds and explaining the properties related to these e.g., why do alcohols have a higher boiling point than alkanes?
  • Memorising and understanding all the reactions related to organic compounds in this module


Module 8: Applying Chemical Ideas

 As the name of the module suggest, module 8 revolves around translating all the chemistry skills and knowledge you have attained in year 12 into real life situations. In Module 8, you’ll learn about how organic and inorganic substances are identified and quantified in our everyday lives. This is very important in ensuring that a certain chemical is within a safe concentration range, managing the health and environmental risks related to synthesising chemical products.


Tip: Memorise solubility rules. Use a mnemonic which best suits you.


Main concepts and skills:

  • Using several methods to qualitatively test for presence of various cations, anions and organic compounds mentioned in the syllabus. A tip to remember all the tests would be to use simple flowcharts.
  • Learn and practice how to interpret various spectroscopy graphs to identify compounds and particles. Make sure to do as many practice questions for these as you can.
  • Understand and be able to explain industrial designs for chemical synthesis.


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