Revising for exams is hard, and it’s even harder when everyone around you is doing something completely different.
There are various ways to revise and not all of them will work for you. Here are some ideas of ways that you can revise, try a couple out or invent your own. Whatever works for you!
Plan Your Revision
The first step is to know what’s ahead of you. What topics do you need to know for your exam?
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 have covered/ have yet to cover in class or ones that you need a refresher one. You’ll find that some topics are easier than others so it’s important you make a revision plan so you know which topics to prioritise.
A Level chemistry specifications are extremely useful because they provide clear definitions for terms you must be familiar with to get the marks on the exam. Make sure you have a list of these terms somewhere so you can make sure to memorise them all.
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!
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Copying Out Notes
Taking notes in class and from your textbook is crucial. The action of making notes itself is a way of learning and remembering, no one can take information in just from staring at a page.
But be careful; copying out the textbook word for word doesn’t count as learning (and will take you a long time!). You need to understand, rather than memorise.
Be systematic and follow the syllabus topic by topic. Don’t move on until you really understand. Try taking notes on a topic from the textbook and then condensing them again and again. By the time you have a small summary of an idea written down, you’ll be able to explain it concisely rather than just reading word for word from your textbook.
If you don’t understand the fundamentals at the start you might not understand something later on so don’t skip it.
Once you get to the end of a section in your text, run through a few practice questions either online, or at the end of chapters in your textbook to really test your understanding.
While you are making your notes, make yourself a few flashcards or posters summarising important formulas and how to use them.
Stick them around your room and scan them on your way out the door. Repeatedly reading your notes is a great method to keep you constantly thinking and to really make sure you understand a subject.
Many people are visual learners and find things easier to remember if they are colourful and presented well. If this is you, use bright coloured flashcards for your chemistry revision notes. You’ll associate the colours with the topics making them easier to remember.
Create a glossary while you’re at it: this will help you remember any definitions you need to know. Knowing the appropriate scientific vocabulary demonstrates your knowledge of a topic and will help you gain extra points.
Skimming these the morning of the exam will build some confidence knowing you’ve covered everything!
Past Paper Practice
Past papers are an essential tool for revision. Do every chemistry 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.
Practicing will guarantee that you get the best grade possible in Chemistry.
There are sometimes key terms you need to cover to get marks. Often, you have to 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, and if there is don’t worry, you’ve still got time!
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Positive reinforcement is possibly the most significant, element of successful revision.
Revision isn’t just about your knowledge, you need to get yourself in a positive mindset to tackle your exams.
Make a list of all the topics to cover in chemistry A level. Whenever you have successfully understood one tick it off your list. You’ll feel much more productive and will physically see how far you’ve come.
If you do well on a past paper don’t hesitate to write the score in marker pen on the front and keep it somewhere you can see. When you’re overwhelmed by revision will act as a visual reminder that you’re not doing too bad after all.
Finally, on exam day, 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!
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If you’re struggling with revision and need another method other than using your textbook, why not try online resources.
A quick Google search of the A Level revision material on the topic you want to bring up several options. Here are a few of our favourites:
This site is a great resource that will test your revision skills. It will 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.
You can even create your own personal question banks and revision guides so you have a tailored plan for you.
This chemistry blog explores the everyday relevance of chemical compounds - great for when you’re wondering what the point of it all is!
Their food poster series and “Chemistry of Colour” posters have gone viral. Their high-quality graphics stimulate more interest in chemistry and are a great way to think about chemistry in a different way than just following a syllabus.
Print a few posters off or try making your own of your favourite compounds!
You most likely used bitesize for your GCSE revision, it’s an oldie but goodie!
Now available as an app too, bitesize is particularly useful because you can choose your exam board on the home page. So whatever curriculum you’re following you’ll be able to access relevant revision resources.
Far from your boring textbook, Bitesize keeps revision interesting, with different quizzes activities and games to choose from. Games might seem silly when you’re in the midst of learning complicated concepts but they can still be useful! Use them as an additional tool when you’ve had enough of writing out notes.
No YouTube isn’t just for music videos and make up tutorials! It can also be used as a fantastic educational tool.
Type in A Level chemistry in the search bar and you’ll find hundreds of videos explaining everything from atom structure to ionic reactions.
The best part about it? It’s like having a tutor on demand, you can find a video on any subject you like.
We especially like Richard Thornley’s channel on YouTube. He’s accurate, succinct, and has a great sense of humour. He’s really easy to understand, even when he’s explaining advanced concepts. Great use of customised video gaming to simulate chemical concepts, too.
Revision doesn’t have to be so difficult when you have access to so many ressources.
Use all the resources you can find to really give yourself the best chance! The more prepared you are in the run up to exam day the less stressed you’ll feel.
Good luck and happy revising!