You’ll find when you’re trying to pick subjects lots of people will try to persuade towards what they would do, rather than what’s best for you. That means there’s a whole lot of “information” floating out there that’s quite wrong. So what is HSC Chemistry about? Here’s a few thing you may have heard about Chemistry that aren’t 100% true.

Myth 1 – I’m not good enough at maths for this!

Have you passed any one maths test at some point between years 7-10? Can you use a calculator? Congratulations! You’re good enough at maths!

HSC Chemistry is very light on maths, not really requiring anything beyond multiplication and division. And you don’t need to remember any numbers because everything is provided on your data sheet in the exam!

Keep in mind university level chemistry is far more maths-based though, so if you’re planning on a future using chemistry, mastering mathematics may be on your future to-do list. 

Myth 2 – Chemistry is so boring!

Obviously this is a matter of taste but there’s a lot more to chemistry than just the periodic table! The prac work is definitely the best part – cool things like working with certain chemicals that change colour when cooled, which makes you feel like a wizard.

Don’t believe me, take a look at the video below. Chemistry is pretty darned cool!

Myth 3 – Chemistry never going to be useful!

Well, precisely how useful does depend on where you’re going in life but I guarantee it’ll be a least a little handy. But consider these questions:

  • If you accidentally splashed oil on your top whilst cooking, why should you not put it into the washing machine?
  • Why does a Mentos explode when it comes in contact with Coca-Cola?
  • Why is there fluoride in Australian tap water, and why is it good for us?

Knowing how everything items like batteries and detergents work and understanding broader sociopolitical issues like the ozone hole and acid rain never goes astray and helps us to make educated decisions.

Plus cooking is essentially chemistry – how can you mix three ingredients and stick them all in the microwave and make an wicked brownie? Chemistry. In learning chemistry, you may accidentally become a Masterchef along the way!

Myth 4 – I don’t want a job in scientific research so it can’t do anything for my career.

Au contraire! Chemists and chemical engineers are some of the most highly paid positions in the broader STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) market (second to pure mathematicians, oddly).

Virtually all types of engineering, any sort of experimental physics as well as careers in medicine and pharmacology all require fundamental chemistry. To say nothing of all the applied chemistry positions available! (Personally, I study forensic chemistry – the science of using physical evidence to solve crimes.)

On top of this all, universities are increasingly focused on interdisciplinary degrees – where you have two degrees to expand your knowledge. For example, Macquarie University has a Bachelor of Science with your Bachelor of Laws. It is designed specifically for those who want to have scientific knowledge to compliment a legal focus or vice-versa in having legal knowledge to compliment a scientific focus. Professions from this include being an environmental lawyer, city planner or scientific patent lawyer! 

The more you have to sell, the better!

Myth 5 – It’s all just about atoms – what’s it got to do with me?

Aside from the fact you are atoms, there’s a lot more to chemistry than just that!

While obviously everything ties back to the atomic level at some point, you’ll learn about processes for industrial production of chemicals, environmental management and material production. I bet you never knew how much thought went into plastic bottles – but that’s all chemistry too! Understanding the world around us helps us to make educated decisions – once you know how plastic bottles are made, you’ll understand why it’s better to purchase and reuse a glass bottle instead!

Moreover, chemistry is a science, and by default, it comes with a excellent set of “soft skills” – general abilities without a specific career leaning. Examples might be expressing yourself in writing (like you learn in English) or evaluating reliability of information (like choosing good sources for history). You’ll learn skills about first-hand investigation as well critical thinking – and these are just two things you will always find handy!

So there you have it – hopefully this’ll clear up any issues you’ve been having trying to get a straight answer about chemistry.

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Matt Saunders is a huge nerd who first got into writing through fanfiction. He’d known science was the path for him since a young age, and after discovering a particular love of bad chemistry jokes (and chemistry too), he’s gone onto to study Forensic Chemistry at UTS. His HSC in 2014 was defined in equal parts by schoolwork and stagecraft, which left him, weirdly enough, with a love of Maths strong enough to inspire him to tutor any level, along with 7-10 Science and HSC Chemistry.