Studying for your GCSEs can be scary. Chemistry covers so many different topics that is hard to know where to start. Organising your revision is key and we’ve got some tips on where to find good revision tools and our tips on how to prepare so you can get the most out of your revision.
The first step is to get your hands on a syllabus. Ask for it at school, or just download it off the website and go through it line-by-line.
Highlight the topics you need to go over, don’t panic if it’s a lot (or pretty much all the topics), you’ve got time.
Science course specifications are extremely useful because they provide clear definitions for terms you must be familiar with to get the marks on the exam.
They will also tell you which examples or processes you need to remember in detail. Get familiar with processes and calculations, you’ll need them!
Textbooks are researched, written, edited and published by experts. They are the original and one of the best resources for revising. Photo via Visualhunt
The action of making notes is crucial. But copying out the textbook word for word doesn’t count. You need to understand, rather than memorise.
Be systematic and follow the syllabus topic by topic. Don’t move on until you really understand. If you don’t understand the fundamentals at the start you might not understand something later on so don’t skip it. Knowledge works by building. You learn something and then you just keep adding to it, but for this to work the start of your knowledge has to be solid.
If you are unfamiliar with any topics consult the relevant section in your textbook or your class notes. GCSE science textbooks are usually fairly good, but if you need a different explanation go online, you’ll find plenty of resources there.
Once you get to the end of a section, run through a few practice questions either online or at the end of chapters in your textbook if there are any. Or if you have relevant questions in a past paper use those.
Keep a list of the topics to cover in your GCSE chemistry course. Once you’ve covered a topic and you really know it (and we mean really!) tick it off the list. Not only will this keep you organised but it will serve as a visual reminder of all the work you’ve put in!
While you are making your notes, make yourself a few flashcards or posters summarising important formulas and how to use them.
Write a key-point or topic on one side and write and explanation on the other. Test yourself by looking at the key-point side only and seeing if you can explain it without looking at the card!
Create a glossary while you’re at it: this will help you remember any definitions you need to know. Definitions and the correct vocabulary are essential in your chemistry exam to get the marks. Even if know the answer, without the correct vocabulary you won’t hit the key points that the examiner is looking for. Using the right scientific language is about demonstrating your knowledge. Don’t lose marks just on your choice of words!
Skim your flash cards the morning of the exam for a confidence boost. You’ll know you’ve got everything covered!
Textbooks aren’t always the most beneficial form of revision, try something more practical! Photo credit: UGL_UIUC via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Past papers are an essential tool for revision. Do every past paper you can find, as many times as you can. Getting used to the past papers will help you to understand the way your subject is structured.
Mark schemes will help you work out where you’ve gained and lost marks, and how well you’re answering the questions.
There are sometimes key terms you need to cover to get marks. Often, you have hit exact points in your answer to get the marks. It isn’t just about your knowledge of the subject but of the marking scheme too. You have to answer the way the examiners want you to.
Using the marking scheme will also help you identify weaker areas in your knowledge so you know what you need to focus your revision on.
Make sure you get your head around the structure of your chemistry paper and ask yourself:
Is the paper divided into sections?
How much time should you spend on each section?
Have you covered all the sections in your revision? Make sure there’s no holes in your knowledge.
Positive reinforcement is possibly the most significant, element of successful revision. While you are making notes, revising concepts or doing papers, you need to make yourself feel confident and prepared for your exam.
Calculate the marks for a past paper you know you did well on and write out a big 95 per cent on the front to remind yourself of how well you’re doing.
Make a list of all the topics you have covered (and fully understood) and cross them off as they get done – this will make you feel extra productive!
Finally, remember that you have put the work in and can only achieve your best. Stay calm and try to avoid going into the exam in a sleep-deprived frenzy!
If you’re struggling with a specific topic and you can’t find the explanation isn’t clear in your textbook there are plenty of online resources that can help.
A quick Google search of the GCSE revision material on the topic you want to bring up several options.
This site is a great resource for revision quizzes. There are quizzes on every chemistry topic from elements compounds and mixtures to different chemical calculations and formulas.
The quizzes are a great way to practice your knowledge recall. Choose topics at random to really test your memory. Going through topics in order in your revision is great but exams won’t be in chronological order so you might need to be able to recall information you learnt over 6 months ago.
The Khan Academy site is like having a personal tutor on demand. It is full of videos with in-depth explanations of each topic across GCSE chemistry. The videos go step by step so you’ll find them easy to follow.
You’ll also find documents on the site what summarise the topics in each section.
You’ve probably used bitesize before. This site (or app) is particularly useful because you can choose your exam board on the home page so you can access revision tools specific to your curriculum. So whether you’re following AQA, Edexcel or OCR you can follow tailored revision resources.
Bitesize keeps revision interesting, with different quizzes activities and games to choose from. Revision works best when it’s varied so don’t ignore the games! You can still learn while having fun.
This site is another great resource that will help you get into the practice of learning, testing and remembering.
Each topic is broken down into sections that you first learn, then test with a quiz then remember it with revision notes.
Create a login to get your own personal question banks and revision guides.
Revision isn’t so hard when you have so many resources to make it varied and most importantly useful! Combine different techniques to keep yourself on your toes and to keep it interesting. Remember, you should be revising all year long, not just in a panic before your exam.
Try to remember all of the hard work you’ve put in and just do your best!