Chemistry’s not all test tubes and explosions…
Chemistry Exam Tips
1. Always make sure that you read around the subject, especially when you do not understand it. You can find many resources in addition to your college materials, either online or in the library.
2. If you get stumped by a question, try not to contact your tutor without having first tried to work it out. Often, you can find the answer with some research – doing so will help you develop your research skills, which are essential for when you move onto university.
3. Never try to copy someone else’s work; your tutor will notice and you are making the exams harder for yourself!
4. Read each question carefully, especially when it has several parts and answer every part.
5. Never leave a question blank – make sure you put the best answer you can. If it’s a test, you might get an extra mark, if it’s practice, your tutor can see if you were heading in the right direction and guide you accordingly.
6. If you have to calculate something, make sure that you show all of your formulae and working out. If the answer is wrong, you may get marks for showing the process within the calculation.
7. The number of marks in a question is important, you can use a one word answer for one question, but a four mark question needs more detail. Try to give one point per mark.
How to Revise
1. Re-read the course materials and make summary notes. Alternatively, you can use the summaries provided at Chemrevise.org. After you’ve made your notes, a great idea is to create your own prompt cards – easy to read notes summarising each new fact or point that you do not remember easily.
2. Practice questions – You can usually find last years exam questions on the Exam Board’s website. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the different types of question.
3. If you do not understand any topic or sections, try to find additional examples in a search engine or on YouTube, e.g. search “Alkenes,” “Isomers,” “mole calculations, ““Reactions of acids and bases….”
4. For all calculations, find other examples to practice.
5. Find past papers, make sure you know which examination board you are studying [e.g. AQA AS Chemistry 1421]. Then do them without looking at your notes. If you cannot do any question, look it up and then do it using notes, learn, re-do and first try each time without looking at your notes. At this point it is OK to look at the notes when you get stuck.
6. The assignments give you the types of questions in the exam, so short answered and structured type-questions, and more detailed essay-type questions. Read the question carefully, note the marks, if its worth one mark you answer using a one-word or very brief answer, for 4 marks you usually need to mention 4 points. For all calculation show all working out and make sure you give the answer required. If you do not know the answer write or guess an answer as often you might get some marks or even be correct!
7. Students think they can learn just by reading a textbook, this is usually not effective, the only way to prove you are learning is by trying past papers and questions without using the textbook.
What to Revise
An excellent and in my opinion the best guide for all the topics covered by AQA syllabus can be found on:
http://chemrevise.org/revision-guides/ These are the most concise summary notes. Again use Youtube for explanation of any topic or areas that you do not understand.
The Practical Assessment
If you can, try to find a local school or college where you might be able to observe or participate in the practical or experiments parts of the course. If you cannot, every experiment you need to know about can be found on YouTube, simply search for the topic in the YouTube search bar.
In summary, read the question carefully, note the marks and answer the question asked with the amount of detail required. Do not waffle or include a lot of unnecessary words. If unsure write the answer in pencil in case you do not have time to come back to the answer. Show all working out when doing any mathematical calculations.
PS. Don’t lose marks to silly errors! Make sure you are prepared and take several pens that all work, sharpened pencils, calculator, ruler and eraser.
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