Read the question – it may seem like an obvious thing to say but make sure you do this.
Think! What is the question asking me.
A question that English speakers (if you are taking your exam in English) seem to get wrong is along the lines of:
Cl2 + 2Br– –> 2Cl– + Br2
What is the oxidising agent?
English speakers see the word ‘oxidising’ and immediately think oxidation. The substance being oxidised is Br- and they write this as their answer – but it is wrong. Why?
Well, an oxidising agent actually gets reduced, so the Cl2 is the oxidising agent.
Why do non English speakers not have so much of a problem? In all honesty, I am not exactly sure but it must be to do with the way English speakers skim read words and process the shape of them – not the actual letters – while non English speakers do not do this.
In some ways, the reason is irrelevant – the key thing to remember is ‘Read the Question’!!