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How to revise for chemistry GCSE

GCSE chemistry revision challenges you in several ways. Aside from having to memorise facts spanning the whole specification, you also need ...

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How to revise for chemistry GCSE


GCSE chemistry revision challenges you in several ways. Aside from having to memorise facts spanning the whole specification, you also need to know your chemistry formulae. As a result, it's hard to know where to start. Here's what you need to know.

Start revision early

With a subject as broad as chemistry, you need to start your revision earlier in the year, compared to other subjects. This then allows you to break the core topics down into digestible chunks and study them little and often. This method ensures better memory retention and recall.

At the same time, stay engaged in your lessons right until your exams. Ask questions, and be honest about your knowledge gaps so your teacher can help you fill them.

Identify what you need to know

Before you start your revision look at the specification for your examining board and ensure you know what exam papers you have and the exact chemistry topics that will be covered.

This will help you to identify what you need to know, and what you don't need. If you're confused in any way, see your Chemistry teacher for confirmation of the core areas.

Work out where you are right now

Next, looking at the specification work out and highlight everything into three zones:

Green indicates what you know and understand.

Orange indicates what you vaguely know but aren't sure about.

Red indicates what you don't know, and or don't understand.

This colour-coded key will help you to see where to focus your revision and where to seek help. Always start with the topics in the red zone as this is the area that will help improve your grade.

If you have large knowledge and understanding gaps seek the help of a chemistry tutor who can work with you to catch up.

Change up your revision tactics

For ideas on how to revise do check out our blog post on How to revise for GCSE science - for general tips and advice. Alongside this, find yourself a chemistry revision partner. Explaining what you have learned to a peer is the best way to work out what you know and understand. It also has the added benefit of someone being able to add ideas that you may not have considered.

Work on past papers

You will hear this piece of advice a lot. However, it's vital to look at past papers at the right time. Trying them without revising or before you have started your revision is demoralising. Factor them into your revision, but only when your revision is in full swing, and you are ready to test yourself.

Ask for help

Chemistry involves a lot of concepts, which are essential for you to understand before you apply the information to your exam questions. So, if there are any chemistry topics you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask your teacher or a tutor and bring it up in class.

How to revise for GCSE science


GCSE Science is a two-GCSE sized (double award) qualification covering the three science disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. To ensure a pass at a high level, you need to revise all of the content and be aware of what examiners want from you. Here's how to revise the subject fully.

Step 1. Use a good revision guide

A science revision guide is key. To make it work for you, read it fully and then adapt what you read so you can remember the information clearly. Try making notes as you read through the guide, create flashcards for the key concepts and theories, and then re-write and condense your notes. Keep doing this until you can explain a topic or process from a few bullet points.

Step 2. Incorporate diagrams, and flow charts into your revision techniques

Diagrams and flow charts are an excellent way to adapt your revision notes of a process into a visual guide that will help you see it fully and learn how it works. Flashcards are also excellent for learning scientific definitions and keywords. Write the word on one side and the definition on the other and test yourself daily.

Step 3. Make sure you cover the whole of your syllabus

Grades will be given on your understanding of all three disciplines, so ensure you include the whole of your syllabus in your revision, not just your strongest areas. You never know what's going to come up, so you have to ensure you have it all covered.

Step 4. Check your understanding

Remember you can't revise what you don't understand so before you start your revision, look for your knowledge gaps and seek help. Your teacher or a Science tutor will be able to fill these gaps in and help you catch up in time if you tackle them now.

Step 5. Use past test papers properly

Past papers are the key to revising science. Firstly don't use past papers until you have done a large amount of revision, this way you can test your knowledge. Then when using past test papers, ensure you mimic the exam setting fully both with time and also with how you answer.

When you come to mark the paper also make sure you are harsh on yourself with the mark scheme. If you haven't got the answer completely right then, you need to write down what the examiner wanted and make sure you learn it.

More importantly, notice the trends and patterns in the question style of all the past papers you use as this is likely to be replicated in your own GCSE. Another way to use this to your advantage because no matter how much you know the content if you can't apply it to the mark scheme of your examining board, you won't get the marks.

Step 6. Back up your learning with YouTube videos

Finally, after you have gone through your revision guide back up your knowledge and test yourself with YouTube videos and worksheets. Free Science lessons on YouTube is a brilliant site to use for revision. It goes through all the main topics in a clear and concise way. Test yourself on the areas and take notes as you watch.

7 habits of successful students


What makes some students successful? Is it luck, smart genes or more? In reality, it's the habits they cultivate. You can model these behaviours to help improve your grades and confidence. Here's what you need to know.

1. They are organised

Successful students always know what's happening as and when, whether it's tests, revision, or homework. This, in turn, helps them plan so that they know what they are going to study, and for how long.

Not being organised means you are more likely to cram for exams, forget tests and revise haphazardly. To become more organised use your time wisely, stick to meaningful study schedules, pay attention to what's happening and make the most of the time in the classroom.

2. They think ahead

Thinking ahead is another facet of successful students. Forward-thinking means preparation and ensuring you have enough time to fit everything in. It's also about having the right resources in advance so that when you do study, you are ready. Whether that means having complete notes from your classes, the correct exam specifications past papers, and more.

3. They are solution-orientated

All successful students actively look for solutions when they are stuck. Whether this is seeking out a teacher or tutor for extra help or putting their hand up and asking a question that may sound foolish.

Successful students also take their learning out of the classroom to find solutions. To try this, use your library and online resources to supplement your studies; check out the problems in the back of textbooks and look online to get a deeper understanding of the materials you are studying.

4. They test their study methods

When it comes to studying, there is a multitude of ways to revise and improve recall. No one way is the magic bullet so successful students test out various study methods to see what works best for them. They also mix and match techniques to help keep the process fresh.

5. They can delay gratification

There are always more exciting things to do than study, and that's why many of us are easily distracted. Successful students feel the pull of their phone and YouTube as much as the next person, but the difference is they know how to delay gratification to prioritise their studies.

It's not an easy thing to do so help yourself by starting small. Identify your biggest distraction, for example, your phone. Turn it off for 30 minutes and study. Then look at it for five minutes and repeat, building up to longer and longer periods with the phone switched off.

6. They don't sweat the small stuff

It's always very easy to get knocked back by a bad exam result, a teacher's offhand comment or just knowing your friends have all scored better than you. Knowing how not to sweat the small stuff means not ruminating on the negative but learning from it.

It's about getting back up and trying again so help yourself by maintaining a positive outlook, steering clear of cynical peers and focusing on what's ahead, not behind you.

7. They have a more significant sense of purpose

Successful students aren't working hard for their teachers and parents but for their own sense of purpose. They are driven to work because their goals are more extensive than grades and good marks.

Having a strong sense of purpose about the bigger world and your goals will help you to find meaning in mundane and challenging schoolwork as well as motivate you to work harder.

Ten ways to get the most out of Online Tutoring


Through learn-extra, you’ll be able to find a tutor who suits you and your subject, and ‘meet’ online at a time that fits your study schedule. But to make sure you get the most from online tutoring – after all, it’s an hour of your life and your (or your parents’) money you’re spending – follow these tips to make sure you maximise your learning.

  1. Put it in the diary. Set your phone (or your parent!) to alert you an hour before and ten minutes before your tutorial time.
  2. Log in at least five minutes early. It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to log on, but we all know how computers can throw up glitches when we least need them. Give yourself an extra five minutes’ grace so that you don’t waste tutorial time if you suddenly find you need to reset a password, your laptop needs charging and you’ve mislaid the charger, or your operating system is in the middle of an update. Then you can start off feeling calm and concentrate fully on making the most of the tutorial.
  3. Focus your full attention. That means – yes, sorry! – turning off your phone and making sure you are logged out of anything on the screen that might distract you – Instagram, Burn Note, Tumblr, Tinder, WhatsApp, Twitter, or even good old Facebook – whatever it is, shut it down for now.
  4. Find a quiet location. If your brother is making faces at you, the dog begging for treats or your housemates watching television in the same room, you won’t get the best from the session. Let everyone know you’re having a tutorial and stick a sign on the door to keep them away. Turn down the music and, if it’s noisy outside, shut the window. If it will help, consider using a headset so you can hear well and the tutor can hear you.
  5. Give the tutor lots of information. If it’s your first session, have your textbooks and other course material nearby so you can show the tutor what you’ve covered and explain where you need extra help. Let them know how you like to study – do pictures help you, do you like time to mull things over, do you do best working through past exam questions? Think about these things in advance. They will help your tutor tailor their teaching to give you the best support.
  6. Don’t be passive. If the tutor is droning on a bit by reading from a book or doing too much talking at you, you might find your attention wanders. Don’t just drift off, speak up and ask if they could give you an exercise or something to help you take in the information more actively. If you have an onscreen notepad feature you can both see, write on it – or use good old paper and pencil to write stuff down or draw graphs or mind maps, and show them to your tutor.
  7. Reset your brain and body. Sitting facing the screen for a whole hour or more can be difficult. Tell your tutor you’d like to take a brief one-to-two minute break every twenty minutes. Stretch your body, run around the house, or even do some jumping jacks. Have a drink of water or some nibbles handy (healthy trail mix or raisins will give you energy). A break like this will re-energise your body and brain, and help to maximise your focus for the rest of the session. It will help your tutor too!
  8. Make a note of homework and next tutorial times. You may think you’ll remember what you agreed, but when everyday life gets in the way, things can slip your mind. Use your phone or computer to keep a note of what you need to do and when.
  9. Do the homework. It may feel like a pain to have extra to do on top of school or college work, but the whole point of tutoring is to help you achieve what you want, so make the most of the opportunity that getting feedback from a tutor will bring.
  10. Ask that question. Unlike lessons at school or university tutorials, enjoy the fact that there’s nobody else here… just the tutor. If you don’t understand something or you missed some information, ask. No question is too stupid!

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