So you’ve spent several years studying everything you need to know to pass your chemistry exam which is now rapidly approaching! However, now it boils down to it you’re starting to panic. Do you really know everything you need to and will you be able to put it down on your exam paper if you do when it comes to it?
The only way to answer this question is to do some thorough revision. Sometimes though, even the word revision can induce fear in students’ hearts. Where do you start? What should you revise, and how should you do it? Well, fear not, the following is a guide on how to revise successfully.
What should I revise?
In order to know what you should be revising you will need a copy of the syllabus for your exam board. If you don’t have a copy you’ll be able find the specification on their website (for example Edexcel, AQA, OCR.)
Once you have a copy you should go through it line by line marking the things you need to go over. This may include things like:
• Metals and their uses
• Crude oils and fuels
• Plant oils and their uses
• Changes in the earth and its atmosphere
• Fundamental ideas in chemistry
Highlight the points you fail to remember when you go over the topic. There is no point in learning what you already know!
Be sure to practice examples of the calculations that come up.
Making notes is absolutely crucial when revising for an exam. You should not, however, copy from your textbook word for word as this only helps you memorise what you have read and not learn it. Writing notes in your own words helps you recognise what you know and what you don’t.
Follow the syllabus as you revise and make notes, only moving on to the next section when you have fully understood the section you are currently studying. If anything within the syllabus is unfamiliar you can always refer back to your textbooks.
Feel free to draw diagrams, note equations and scribble formulae etc. that make it easier for you to understand your notes. At the end of each section of your syllabus, run through a few practice questions and check your answers. Wrong answers are a good indication that you need to revise an area again. Don’t fret if you don’t get it all right on the first go, every time you go over the bits you have difficulty with, you’ll remember a little bit more.
Flashcards that denote formulas, equations, facts etcetera can prove to be extremely handy when it comes to your revision. These can be displayed to reiterate things you have revised, or you could get friends or relatives to read from them, show you them, in return for you explaining them.
Flash cards are also essential for remembering the equations and definitions that you will need to know. If you do not know these basics you will lose marks on your exam paper.
Sitting past papers
Most importantly it is recommended that you sit old papers as part of your revision. Aim to do all of them by the exams come around. There are only so many possible questions for them to ask! If a question comes up in several past exam papers, chances are it could be in yours. Past papers are a fabulous way of training your brain to think the same way as the examiner. Furthermore, they give you a good idea what to expect in your actual exam.
Always time yourself when sitting an old paper as in actual exam conditions you will be timed. Also, you should make sure you always write down your answers and don’t complete the exam mentally. This will help you when checking your answers to see where you have gone wrong with any incorrect ones. It will also indicate areas that you need to do more revision. In your actual exam showing your workings are extremely important and you may lose marks if you do not do so.
Positive reinforcement equates to confidence and you WILL need to go into your exam with as much confidence as possible. Writing things like “pass’ or a grading such as “87%’ on past exam papers you complete will give you a sense of great achievement. Keep track of your scores and watch your marks get higher and higher.