Studying for your A-Level exams can be a scary thought. A Level Chemistry covers many different topics so you need to be organised in your preparation and chemistry revision.
But fear not, we’ve put together a short guide on what you can expect to cover on this course and some tips on revising.
The specific curriculum at A Level can differ from school to school, depending on what exam board you are with but the core topics remain the same.
After getting through your GCSEs your knowledge of chemistry will be pretty advanced by now. At A level, you will continue to further your knowledge of concepts you already know as well as learning new ones.
In the physical chemistry section of your A Levels, you will build on your GCSE knowledge of atoms and their structure. You will also learn about bonding, energetics, kinetics and acids and bases.
You will also have some more equations to learn! You’ll have to learn redox equations as well as Le Chatelier’s principle which can be used to predict the effects of changes in temperature, pressure and concentration on the position of equilibrium in homogeneous reactions.
You will test principles and equations like these in experiments in the lab, and will even learn which reactions can be reversed and how!
In inorganic chemistry, you will learn about halogens, transitions metals and alkaline earth metals, as well as testing reactions of ions in aqueous solutions.
In organic chemistry, you will learn the difference between alkanes, alkenes and alcohols. You’ll also learn how amino acides join to form proteins and how enzymes are made.
And perhaps most interestingly of all you’ll learn how DNA is structured and how effective anti-cancer drugs are in stopping DNA reproducing in cancer cells.
As well as the chemical theory, as in GCSE, you’ll be taught practical skills in the lab. You’ll be able to build on your existing knowledge to conduct more complex experiments and test different hypotheses.
It’s easy to look at all of this and get overwhelmed. But don’t worry. You will be taught each section in small chunks and you will just keep building up your knowledge.
A Level chemistry is pretty advanced and it takes a lot of work to do well in this subject. It’s a good idea to revise new information throughout the course to make sure you really understand a concept before you move onto the next one. Trust us, this is a lot easier than trying to do it all in one go one month before your exams!
Here’s a short list of some techniques to help you best prepare:
Building a chemistry revision timetable can add structure to your revision techniques and help you identify which topics you need to prioritise.
Like we said, do this regularly not just before your exams. Set some time aside each week to go over ideas and concepts you’ve covered in class.
The great thing about A Level is that you have less subjects to think about, giving you time to really go into depth on each one.
Creating a revision timetable is a great way to organise your study time so you’re spending enough time on each subject.
Take the first step by setting your study goals to build a strong foundation for success.
Preparing for your exm through proper revision will leave you feeling confident on the day (Photo credit: Xin Li 88 via Visualhunt.com)
One of the best things you can do is to do as many past chemistry papers as you can.
Practising past papers will help you get familiar with the:
Using past papers to revise is a really useful tool. The more at ease you are with the format and style of questions the better, you won’t get any surprises on exam day.
Look up the mark scheme for your past papers and make sure your answers are hitting the points needed to get the marks. The best answers are concise explanations rather than descriptions.
Try writing out model answers for certain questions that come up again and again. This will get you into the practice of writing answers that the examiners are looking for. Remember, exam answers are not just about your knowledge of the subject but also about your knowledge of the mark scheme itself.
The chief examiner’s report is basically a guide of what not to do in an exam. It compiles comments from all examiners each year and tells you the most common mistakes students make.
Of course you don’t know what’s going to be in your exam, but it is useful to understand how the papers are marked.
Use this to focus your mind when doing your past papers. The most common mistake is just not reading the question properly! Don’t fall into that trap.
Continuing on the theme of writing concise exam answers, we recommend you start building a scientific word bank.
Every time you learn a new word, phrase or expression for a certain topic or concept add it into the bank.
Having the right vocabulary can help demonstrate your knowledge of scientific concepts, and that equals more marks!
Reviewing your notes 10 minutes before class is extremely useful for further learning. (Source: Visual Hunt)
If you find your work too much to tackle alone, then why not enlist the help and support of fellow students. Create a study group and connect with your classmates for support! This will allow you to fully prepare for your A-levels as well as enrich your learning by exploring the thoughts and ideas of others.
A levels can be stressful so working with a group can take the burden off a little, you’re all in it together!
Plus you and your classmates can test each other’s knowledge and level of progress.
(Just remember, no one can do the work for you, that, we’re afraid, is up to you).
If you’re feeling stressed, tired and that it’s all getting too much, take a break. There is no point forcing yourself to study for hours upon hours as this will not result in a positive outcome. There is no shame in taking a break and it can often be more productive than trying to go for hours staring at the same textbook.
Taking regular study breaks and exercising is proven to engaging your brain in studying and improve your exam performance in the long-run. Exercise is a powerful tool which can boost your brain’s ability to be productive and can increase your concentration.
Everyone is always looking for the best way to study but the reality is that each person is different. You could be a visual learner, or an auditory, reading or writing learner. Finding your style will make remembering and recalling information a lot easier.
You’ll also find out where you work better, at home, at the library, at a friend’s house. Whatever it is do what’s best for you. You don’t have to be like everyone else:
Mix up your study habits and methods by listening to podcasts, watching videos or documentaries, studying in a new locations or even something as simple as using different colours for your study notes.
Your brain will recall where you were or how you revised for a topic which will help you remember more information. Give it a go!
The day of your exam can be the most stressful of the entire examination experience but there are ways which you can minimise your anxiety.
As mean as it sounds, try avoiding panicking friends and keep to yourself. Keep your goals in mind and remember all of the hard work you have put in to prepare.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam hall on time so you can enter calmly and with a clear mind.
And don’t underestimate the power of eating a healthy breakfast the day of your exams! Your brain needs fuel to operate (and you really don’t want to be the person with a rumbling stomach in the exam hall!)
Whatever methods you choose to revise just make sure you give yourself time to prepare. Little and often is always best, keep on top of your revision throughout the year; don’t leave anything till the last minute.
Not only will you save yourself stress you’ll give yourself the best possible chance to achieve the grades you deserve.