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Chemistry: 5 Days to Go

By Jake Silove in Study
30th of October 2016

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So, Chemistry is only five days away. A year of battling with Ethanol, synthesising radioactive isotopes, decaying Ozone and trying to figure out what the hell biochemical oxygen demand is will be over in just less than a week! That’s a pretty exciting concept; you’ve put the work in, and now it’s time to show the world what you’ve got. Optimising this last week is seriously important in achieving a great Chemistry mark, because there is SO MUCH you can do in a week.

Here are my final tips for acing the Chemistry exam. You’ve likely finished the rest of your subjects, and don’t really have anything else to focus on, so using that time wisely is the key to success. I do want to mention, though, that you don’t need to be doing 8 hours of Chemistry every day until Friday; you’ve got through some seriously tough papers in the past few weeks, so make sure you give yourself a break!

Figure out EXACTLY what you don’t know

At this point, you’re probably fairly comfortable with the bulk of the curriculum. You might not feel like you are, and you might not feel that you’re ready for the exam, but the fact is that you’ve put in a year of work. That year has included at least two massive exam periods, and if you got through those, you’ll get through the final exam. However, identifying what you don’t yet know off by heart, or understand, is the best way to score just a few extra marks in the exam (seriously valuable marks).

Here’s my recommendation. Smash through the whole curriculum, by looking at the dot points and your notes. Figure out the things you seriously don’t understand yet, stuff you just 100% haven’t memorised. That might be Chemistry formula, or examples of acidic oxides, or Ozone depletion, of detergent. Whatever it is, use colours to write that stuff out in the most succinct possible way. This should only take you an hour or two, but I swear it was the single best thing I did to study for my HSC Chemistry exam.

This is the summary sheet I had the night before my Chemistry exam. I managed to get everything down to one page, which I was pretty proud of. You should aim to do the same; whenever you learn something on your sheet, rewrite it to exclude that information. If you find more stuff you need to memorise, add it to your sheet or rewrite it. Just the act of writing everything out, and planning your use of colours, will increase your chances of learning the information.

Keep doing past-papers, but do them SMART

There’s no point doing past papers if you’re not using that time efficiently. How do you get the most out of past papers?

Timed conditions

Unfortunately, the time has passed for you to lazily meander through past papers, just trying to kill time. You need to put yourself in exam conditions, to simulate the exam, and identify if you have problems with timing.

Try to use your notes as little as possible

If you ever need to use your notes, write down what you used them for and put that on your summary sheet (see above). That’s clearly something you need to learn!

Mark your work

Duh.

Repeat questions you got wrong

This is like the advanced version of the above, but I would seriously recommend it. If you get a question wrong, write out what the question was/what paper it was from etc. Come back the next day, and redo the question. If you get it right, fantastic! You’ve clearly learned from your mistake. If you don’t, then you need to do it again the next day, and again, and again, until you fix your mistake.

Spend some hours chatting to friends

Talking to others, whether you’re teaching them or they’re teaching you, is one of the best ways to identify gaps in your knowledge. I would seriously recommend putting aside a couple of hours at some point in the next week to chat to some friends about the Chemistry curriculum.

Run through the curriculum, by just reading the dot point, and then talking to each other for as long as you can about them without looking at your notes. You’ll instantly see where you’re strong, and where you’re weak. Plus, having someone explain something to you in person increases your chance of learning it, and explaining something to someone else increases your chances of being able to give a comprehensive answer!

Plan answers to common extended response questions

I would really recommend having a comprehensive, full mark answer to every kind of Ethanol question, Biopolymer question, Ozone question, Waterways question etc etc. Think about how to answer the question (Table? Dotpoints? Subheadings?). Think about what terminology to use, what formulas to include, what equations to write and specific detail to add. This will just make planning an extended response question in an exam room situation so much easier for yourself, which is extremely important if you’re looking to get 6/6, 7/7 or 8/8.

Don’t spend time researching

You don’t have time for that anymore. You can’t be researching to understand dotpoints, you can’t be reading Wikipedia pages or studying from your textbook. Got questions? Well, I’ve got answers! Head over to our Chemistry question thread to ask any question you want, totally free!

And those are my last minute tips. Anything else to add? Any questions? Hit ‘reply’ and join in the conversation! Good luck :)

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