Preparing for an A Level chemistry exam can be daunting as there are both theoretical and practical elements to this subject. Not only do you have to understand the chemistry concepts, but you also have to be able to apply these concepts by performing certain calculations. Luckily, there are certain approaches to studying chemistry that will help you feel confident in your abilities.
How to Study for Chemistry
While there are similar approaches to studying every subject, there are also certain study methods that can be applied to chemistry that will help you understand and retain the knowledge you’ll require to complete your exam.
Create a Study Schedule
It’s important to create a study schedule as soon as you can. This will help you organise your time so that you are sure you are able to properly prepare for your upcoming exams.
When creating your study schedule, try to section your schedule to include revision, creating summaries, practising your skills, and so forth. It can also be useful to specify when you’ll be focusing on certain concepts.
If there are concepts that you tend to struggle with more, schedule some extra time for these concepts.
Consistently Revise Your Work
Revision is an extremely important part of preparing for your A Level chemistry exams. Rather than trying to cram in all of the information shortly before the exam, try to revise your work at least twice a week. This will help you to retain the knowledge you have gained throughout the course.
By doing this from the beginning of your course, your exam preparation period will not be a stressful one and will allow you to better prepare for your exam.
Along with revision, it’s important to practise the skills you have gained. Make sure you practise performing all necessary calculations and other practical skills. After all, practise makes perfect!
While you might understand a concept in theory, practising will allow you to determine whether you are truly comfortable with a concept and the practical elements connected to the subject. This will also give you a chance to mark your own work and determine where improvement is required.
Make Use of Mindmaps
There is a lot of theoretical information in chemistry that you’ll need to understand and memorise. There are also a variety of equations, formulas, and constants that you should know by heart.
Mindmaps can be helpful in memorising and recalling this information. You can find out more about the benefits of mindmaps and how to create them here.
Make Use of Past Papers
Past papers are an extremely useful resource. Not only will you have an idea of the type of questions that will be asked, but you’ll also be able to understand how the examiners mark the exam and what type of answers they are looking for.
When completing past papers, make sure to perform them without the assistance of a textbook or memorandum. It can also be helpful to time yourself. By doing this you’ll emulate exam conditions and determine whether you are prepared for your exam.
Making Use of a Chemistry Tutor
It’s important to ensure that you understand all of the concepts within your chemistry course material. This is because many of the concepts build upon one another. If you are experiencing difficulty with any of the concepts in your chemistry course, it could be useful to enlist the help of a tutor.
A tutor will be able to give you one-on-one attention and explain concepts in a way that is suited to your learning style. They’ll also be able to help you prepare for your upcoming exam and iron out any small issues you might be facing.
Understanding a subject and its concepts is the first step to retaining knowledge and being able to apply this knowledge.
Tips for Your Chemistry Exam
Even though you are thoroughly prepared for your chemistry exam, there are a few tips and tricks that you can utilise while writing it to ensure you obtain the best marks possible.
Make Important Notes
As soon as you start your exam, it’s advisable to make certain important notes. These can include formulas, equations, and constants. The last thing you want to have happen, is for you to hit a blank in the middle of the exam.
By doing this, you can rest easy knowing you have the information and tools you need to complete the exam successfully.
Preview the Exam
Once you have made the necessary notes, it’s important to review the exam. Go through each question, and mark those that you are comfortable with answering. You can even number them from least to most challenging. You can then start by answering the easy questions first.
This will build your confidence and calm you so that you are in the right mental state once you approach the harder questions. This will also ensure that you get as many marks as possible in your exam.
Read Questions Carefully
It’s extremely important to read each and every question carefully. Even if you think you know exactly what is being asked of you at first glance, re-read the question. It’s important not to rush this step as you can lose marks by providing the wrong answer.
It’s also important to note that some chemistry exams will give you the option to choose which questions to answer. For example, a section in the exam could state; “answer question 1 or question 2”. Be sure to watch out for these instructions as the exam and its allotted time has been designed to have a certain amount of questions to be answered.
If you are struggling to understand what is being asked of you, try breaking the question up into smaller parts. In this way, you’ll be able to work through the question methodically.
Show Your Work
If you get to a question that you aren’t too sure about, it can be beneficial to write down what you do know. This can also help jog your memory and could lead you onto the right path to solving the problem.
Showing your work in this way could potentially allow you to gain partial marks, even if you do not answer the question entirely correctly.
Don’t Leave Questions Blank
If you do have extra time left, and there are questions that you don't know how to answer, it’s better to give it a try than to leave it blank. You might be surprised at what you are capable of if you give it a try.
Check Your Work
Once you have completed your exam, try to check your work, if time allows. There might be a small mistake that you could quickly correct. These small errors can cost you marks and are easily avoidable by double-checking what you have done.
Now that you know how to prepare for and approach your A Level chemistry exam, we are sure you’ll succeed and achieve the results you are aiming for!