Acceptable Chemical Name for H2SO4

Acceptable Chemical Name for H2SO4 from Winners Education Group

By: Winners Education Group  17/04/2009
Keywords: Science, Chemistry Tuition, Chemistry Tutor

Hello students from Singapore (as well as overseas),

Ever been confused with the chemical name for H2SO4?

Is it Sulphuric Acid or is it Sulfuric Acid to be used?

Since 16 years ago that i came across H2SO4, i had seen both sulphuric acid and sulfuric acid being used in different textbooks, assessment books and encyclopedias. When we ask teachers or lecturers, they would just say they are the same. In Singapore, however, we have been trained to use “Sulphuric Acid” in our educational system for the past few decades, with H2SO4 being printed as Sulphuric Acid in all our syllabus textbooks and related materials.

I suppose “Sulfuric Acid vs Sulphuric Acid” is similar to the argument of “colour vs color”, which marks the difference in the English and American educational system.

In last December, i came across an email from a friend that informed me that Singapore Education System is going to change from our usual “Sulphuric Acid” to “Sulfuric Acid” from Jan 2009 onwards. Frankly, i did not really care much about it, until recently when i was going through revision with my chemistry class on Preparation of Salts, that a debate came up which “splits” the class into 2 halves - Half of the class have been warned by their school teachers that Sulfuric Acid should be used; while the other half have not hear anything from their teachers and still uses Sulphuric Acid.

In order to get to the truth, i made a call to Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday and understand the following from the Chemistry Curriculum Officer-In-Charge:

  • MOE has received a memo from Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) in May 2008
  • Directives were sent to all Head-of-Departments (HOD) of Secondary Schools & Junior Colleges in Dec 2008 (confirmed by 2 of my friends which are current school teachers)
  • From O Levels -> A Levels, all Chemistry syllabuses in Singapore will aligned themselves to the “International Chemistry Convention” starting Jan 2009, which governs all International Syllabuses
  • That meaning, Singapore is the last few countries to finally adopt the “Sulfuric Acid” nomenclature
  • Through my discussion with the officer-in-charge, she has also confirmed with me that teachers have been reminded by their Chemistry HOD, to use Sulfuric Acid (rather than Sulphuric Acid) in their teachings and materials
  • However, if a student writes “Sulphuric Acid” in his national examinations and O-Levels / A-Levels Examinations, he will NOT BE PENALISED! MOE understands that it will take some time for students to get used to this transition. In fact,  many teachers are not used to the transition, that including yours truly (myself) thou i have never called myself a teacher before
  • And many of the textbooks and workbooks that were published last year (with sulphuric acid written), have been re-collected back from major bookstores (such as Popular Bookstore). You won’t be able to see them on the bookstore shelves. Only the “revised edition” (with sulfuric acid written) will be available in bookstore - i just check with Popular yesterday, only the Sec 5 N(A) textbook is available. Express Textbook is currently “out-of-stock”. [check out the photos below]
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Keywords: Chemistry Tuition, Chemistry Tutor, Science