It’s a well-known fact that GCSEs are important. This is especially true in respect of the GCSEs that you get in core subjects, such as English and mathematics.
As a result, it’s vitally important that you try to get the best marks possible in subjects such as chemistry, regardless of whether you’re studying chemistry as part of a single science GCSE or as part of a combined science GCSE along with physics and biology.
While this is easy to say, the reality of studying and revising for a GCSE such as chemistry can be much more difficult in practice.
It’s no secret that students sitting their GCSEs often have a large number of different subjects to study for at the same time, whether that’s drama, business studies, physical education, history, or another subject, which can make it hard to find the time to revise each and every subject thoroughly.
So what’s the solution? Although there is no easy trick or method that you can use that is guaranteed to get you the best results possible in your upcoming GCSE exams, this article does try to help when it comes to your GCSE chemistry studies and revision in other ways, namely by:
- Providing some ways to learn the GCSE chemistry syllabus, using the topic of chemical analysis as an example; and Global warming and greenhouse gases;
- Providing tips that you can use to help improve your academic performance, particularly in the run-up to exams.
What You Need To Know About GCSE Chemistry
There is a lot to learn in any subject, whether you’re studying for your GCSEs or A-Levels. GCSE chemistry is no exception, particularly if you’re studying it as a single science.
One way to get a better understanding of what you’ll be taught throughout your GCSE chemistry course is to go online and look at the syllabus set by your exam board. The syllabus should outline all the various topics you might encounter, potentially including topics like:
- Fundamental or introductory topics, such as the atomic structure and the periodic table;
- Chemical reactions and chemical change;
- Study of the states of matter;
- Organic chemistry; and
- Chemical analysis.
If you’re only at the start of your GCSE journey, then one potential way to make sure you’re keeping up with the requirements of your exam board’s curriculum is to check regularly to see whether what you’ve been taught at school and the lessons you remember sufficiently cover what’s set in the syllabus.
However, by no means feel as though you have to do this, as your school’s lessons should be very thorough when it comes to teaching the GCSE chemistry syllabus!
Instead, one of the main things you can do is keep on top of what you learn in the chemistry classroom, do your homework and any coursework, and complete any extra study if required until you’re sure you’ve understood the main points covered in each lesson.
For example, if you still find yourself struggling to know the difference between a molecule, particle, electron and atom when you learn about atomic structure, it is likely time to go back and revise that particular lesson.
If you’re at the point of nearly sitting your GCSE chemistry exam, then one potential learning approach might be to revisit your GCSE chemistry syllabus and see whether there are any areas that you’re not particularly confident with or would like to spend some more time learning about before the day of the exam.
For example, if you’re studying with AQA or OCR 21st Century, then you may well encounter a topic within your syllabus known as “chemical analysis.” Using that topic as an example, let’s look at one way that you could revise for questions on that topic that might come up in your GCSE chemistry exam.
Learning About Chemical Analysis
Chemical analysis is primarily concerned with identifying and analysing substances, which can often (but not always) comprise a range of different chemicals.
As part of this topic, you’ll likely learn about a range of things, including what constitutes a pure substance and a mixture in chemical terms, formulations, chromatography, and how to use flame and chemical tests to identify different types of ions, including metal ions and negatively charged ions.
When preparing to revise areas such as chemical analysis, your initial aim should be to double check that you’ve understood the key points from this topic and have an idea of the types of areas that might be tested.
One way to do this is to go through your previous lesson notes and test yourself to see if you’ve remembered the key areas of chemical analysis at a minimum (for example, how a pure substance differs from a mixture).
Past paper questions can also provide good insight into how topics such as chemical analysis are tested at GCSE level, including the types of questions that you may be asked in the exam. Try to complete as many past papers as possible, as this is often one of the best ways to see whether you’ve learnt enough to perform well under timed conditions when it comes to sitting your own GCSE chemistry exam.
Getting Ready For Your GCSE Chemistry Exam
Exams aren’t fun, but it’s important that you try to prepare yourself for them in a way that works well for you.
If possible, try to study regularly throughout the year, particularly for GCSEs such as your chemistry GCSE, as this should help you to retain as much information as possible, thereby making your revision more effective when the time comes to get ready for exams.
Equally, if you’re ever unsure of something you’ve been taught, whether it relates to chemical analysis, the periodic table, or atomic or molecular structures, be sure to reach out to your teacher and ask them to clarify any points you're uncertain of.
Don’t be afraid of enlisting extra support during your studies as well. Some students, for example, can find it helpful to have a chemistry tutor throughout the year, and particularly in the run-up to exams, in order to help them:
- Improve their understanding of the chemistry syllabus;
- Improve their exam technique; and
- Grow in confidence and feel ready for the exam when the day arrives.
If you are looking for chemistry tuition or a tutor for any of your GCSE exams, then Superprof has a wide network of experienced tutors that you can choose from, regardless of whether you’re looking for one to one, group, or online lessons.
Another important aspect of your studies is to try and stay motivated when it comes to learning about GCSE chemistry, including staying motivated when you’re revising for your chemistry exam.
Try to keep in mind that any revision, homework, or other supplementary studies you undertake is only temporary and that it’s for a good cause. Having good results in your GCSEs can really make a difference when it comes to deciding which A-levels you’d like to take, or even what subject you’d like to study at university.
Equally, if you’re set on becoming a scientist or chemist later in life, then doing as well as you can in GCSE chemistry is extremely important. This is because many chemistry courses, whether relating to biochemistry, physical chemistry, or otherwise, may want to see that you've done well in your GCSE chemistry exam as well as at A-Level.
However, it’s also worth mentioning that everything should be in balance, so try not to overdo it when it comes to study and revision as well.
Although studying for your GCSEs is a stressful time in any student’s life, it’s important to find a way to break up study with other activities that you enjoy. Having some downtime should help avoid burnout, frustration, or giving up on study altogether.
As such, make sure to spend time with friends, play sports, or do another activity that you like, whether that’s going shopping or watching the latest release at the cinema – essentially, anything that gives you a break from the books and a chance to de-stress!
Find What Works For You
Ultimately, the important thing is to figure out the study methods that work best for you. For instance:
- You might learn more about the topic of chemical analysis by re-reading your notes while listening to music; or
- You might retain more information if you get someone to test you regularly on aspects of chemical analysis such as chromatography.
Try to mix and match a variety of different approaches to see which seem to suit best, taking into account your existing knowledge of GCSE chemistry topics such as chemical analysis, as well as the amount of time you have left to revise before exams start.