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What does a chemistry data test actually test?

Data tests are worth 10% of your overall mark for units 3&4 of each QCE science & are fairly similar to exams. The main difference between exam-style assessments and data tests is that data tests focus only on the application of your scientific knowledge and skills to provided information. For example, a chemistry data test is unlikely to ask “What’s an important attribute to consider when selecting an indicator?” but are likely to ask “deduce an appropriate indicator for the provided titration”. Overall, each data test should focus roughly 30% on applying understanding, 30% on analysing evidence, and 40% on interpreting evidence. These are only rough percentages and your teacher may implement a data test where, for example, there’s some more marks allocated to applying understanding than to analysing evidence.

How do I prepare for a data test?

Make sure you’re comfortable handling data – for example, do you understand how many decimal places or significant figures your answers should have? You also want to be comfortable with any diagrams or figures that are likely to feature in a chemistry data test. As with all assignments, you also want to be on top of the content. I recommend annotating the syllabus (either online or a print out) and highlighting/underlining/ticking the dot points you’re comfortable with. If you have time, you could extend this by using a rating system.

Once you know your stuff, you want to practice your stuff. Since some exam questions would also be applicable to data tests, they’re a great way to get practice in; make sure you focus on ones which involve analysing data, calculating figures, and interpreting diagrams. An even better form of practice is to use QCAA’s sample assessments – try answering the sample assessment instrument for the chemistry data test and mark your answers against the sample marking scheme. If you have time, it may be beneficial to redo this a 2nd time to see if you improve on your past performance. Make sure you remember to use the formula and data book – this is allowed in the data test.

Can you give me some examples of free practice questions I could do?

Sure! (MCQ = multiple choice question; SA = short answer)

From VCAA try:
MCQ: 16, 17,18, 24, 26, 27, 29
SA: 2 a,b,d 6 a,b,c 7 a,b 8a 9 a,b

MCQ: 1, 6, 11, 18, 20, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30
SA: 4 a,b 6 a 8 a,b,c,d 9 a,b,c,d,e,f

From NESA try:
MCQ: 7, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20
SA: 22, 29

MCQ: 1, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20
SA: 23, 24
Section 2: 31 a,b  32 b

How do I cope with the time pressure?

One way to get more comfortable with this is practicing under timed conditions. This could mean following the provided timings or – if you’re cobbling a group of questions together from other places- giving yourself roughly a minute per mark. Aside from practice, I find it helpful to pause when I find myself getting anxious about the pressure and just breathe for a bit to help me refocus; the time spent pausing is made up for by having increased clarity after.

What if I’m still confused?

Looking at sample data tests will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of assessment. Whether you’re confused by the assessment style, the content you need to know, or a combination of both, remember that you can ask for help and feedback. The more information you give someone about what’s confusing you, the easier they are likely to find helping you.

Where to next? We have free QCE chemistry notes available here and if you have any questions leave them here and we’ll address them – also for free 🙂

Good luck with chemistry! I believe in you 🙂