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Vaike

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My guide to VCE Chemistry
« on: January 09, 2018, 07:57:36 pm »
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Warning: This is going to be quite lengthy! So make sure you've got a comfy seat, make yourself a nice warm tea or coffee, and (hopefully) enjoy the read!

Introduction
Chemistry was one of my favourite subjects throughout my Year 12 experience. Not only did it present a wide array of conceptual content to remember, but it is assessed in a way that really challenges your understanding of the ideas taught *cough Physics*, making it not only enjoyable to learn, but enjoyable to revise for.
 
However, Unit 1/2 Chemistry was definitely not one of my favourite subjects in Year 11. Finding Units 1/2 relatively uninteresting, I instead devoted a lot of time towards my other subjects, and consequently, found Chemistry difficult. I didn't deeply understand many of the concepts, and simply didn't spend the time thoroughly learning and practicing what we were learning in class. Honestly, I don't even know what mark I got for my Unit 1/2 Chemistry exam, as I knew if I checked I would be embarrassed and ashamed, so I never checked.
 
Going into Year 12 I was quite nervous about undertaking Chemistry 3/4; should I have dropped and reduced my workload? Should I have picked another subject? Will I regret neglecting studying units 1 and 2? I'd spoken to quite a few friends about this who were feeling the same way too. Personally, I found Chemistry 3/4 significantly more engaging than the 1/2, whether that was because it now garnered my full attention and effort (being a year 12 subject), or because I actually found the content more interesting I'm not sure. And luckily, it turns out that Unit 1/2 is only relatively loosely related to 3/4. So if you've not enjoyed 1/2 Chem, hang on! 

In the summer holidays before my Year 12 begun, I had a look at the ATAR Notes Chemistry resources thread. Although it did have some invaluable advice, much of this was dated, back to as early as 2011. I remember having wished for something more recent and comprehensive to help guide me, and if nothing else, allay a few of my concerns. Being lucky enough to receive a 50 in Chem, I thought I'd write some form of a guide for the current study design (or any future study designs, this guide isn't content specific), hopefully of which can be used by future Chemistry students to as a platform to begin their journey.

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The summer holidays
How you spend the summer holidays is very much a personal choice. I have always and will always stress the need to spend a significant portion of your holidays unwinding; whether it be enjoying time with friends and family, throwing yourself head first into a hobby or project, or lazing around and sleeping through the afternoon (I did too much of this), it is vital for both your health and your academic results that you enjoy the holidays and come into the first week of Year 12 refreshed, to avoid burnout during the long road ahead.
 
However, that is not to say that you shouldn't take advantage of all this free time you find yourself with. I spent a few hours of my summer break working my way through Unit 3, reading the textbook and answering the textbook questions. I have always found that I learn best by first exposing myself to content at home, and instead spending class time to consolidate rather than learn. However, I also found that being too far ahead can be confusing; it can be difficult to divide attention between what you're learning in class and what you're studying to stay ahead.
 
All things considered, I would still encourage you to try and get a head start. I will however, generally suggest you don't try to cover the entire course. I can't imagine being able to comprehensively complete the chemistry course and meet all your other VCE commitments whilst still having enough time to relax over the short, 6 week summer break. By no means does this mean you shouldn't have a light read over the entire course if you feel so inclined, but I'd strongly recommend against trying to learn all of it, you've got the best part of 9 months ahead to do that. In general, I think time is better used learning the first couple of topics really well, through answering any textbook questions, watching some online videos, and constructing some summary notes, so that when you return to school, you won't need to consolidate in class and can instead move onto the next topic.
 
Whilst studying ahead can be beneficial, perhaps an even more important use of your time on the holidays is to set yourself up for the year ahead. This may include setting goals, and scheming up a 'plan of attack' that will enable you to achieve them. I think its also an optimal time of the year to read as many guides and seek as much advice as you can, whilst also considering whether or not you'd benefit from additional resources as tutoring. If nothing else, I'd encourage everyone to at some point on the holidays, to write down what they want to get out of VCE, and then how they plan to achieve it. Whether it be a 40+ in Chem, an ATAR to get into your dream course, or to simply to try your best and see where life takes you. Whatever you do, set a goal; in my experience it made it easier to stay focused and make it through the year.

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Resources

Textbooks
I had access to both the Heinemann and Jacaranda 3/4 Chemistry texts. My school used Heinemann, and I found generally very good, containing in depth explanations for most topics, as well as some great chapter questions. I actually used this textbook quite a bit. Conversely, I found the Jacaranda text to be almost useless. It didn't cover topics in nearly enough detail and although it had a plethora of chapter questions, many of them were not useful. If your school is using the Jacaranda text, I'd strongly recommend considering trying to attain another text, such as the Heinemann book, if possible. Second hand books can be really cheap, and if you ask around Iím sure youíll be able to find some way to make other texts available to you.


Other resources

Free resources
There are so many great free resources available I can't mention them all, and they legitimately rival the paid ones in terms of quality. I'd encourage everyone to check these out! (ngl, I prefer most of the free ones anyway lol)
Chemistry Study Design: I printed this off over the summer break and relied on it throughout the year to ensure I what I was learning was relevant, and then again at the end of the year to ensure I would be able to handle anything VCAA could throw at me. I canít stress enough how important referring to the study design is. Read it, reread it, and then read it again! It outlines exactly what you need to know, and what you donít, making it much easier to discern whether you really need to know a certain thing!

VCAA past examination and examination reports: Literally the best revision resource available, and its free. You'll be able to access past VCAA examinations dating back all the way to 2002 from here, alongside the examination reports. Many of the examination reports have useful tidbits and advice, so be sure to take note!

VCAA Data booklet: This will become your new best friend over your Year 12 chemistry studies. I'd suggest printing yourself a copy if your teacher doesn't do it for you; you will be referring to this almost every time you revise for chemistry.

ATAR Notes Forums: D'oh! This is an amazing place to get quick response to any questions you may have regarding Chemistry or anything else VCE/HSC/Uni related. There are so many high achievers here that will be more than happy to give you thorough and detailed explanations to your queries.

ATAR Notes Lectures: A great, social way to get a head start or revise for your VCE subjects. The VCE Chemistry lectures are great, all 5 or 6 times I've attended over my VCE journey I enjoyed it! Plus, I'm running them now so I like to think they're useful haha, make sure you come along!

Your teachers: Please use them! They *should* know the content like the back of their hand, and they'll always be there for you. They should be usually be the first person you run things by.

Chemguide: Don't mind the dated website design, there is so much useful information on here. Again, it isn't written specifically for VCE so you'll have to do some searching, but there are really great explanations on here too.

Molview: This app is amazing. It really helped me wrap my head around visual concepts such as isomerism and chirality, and was also invaluable in learning and checking my answers for organic nomenclature. If nothing else it's even just fun to play around with!

Compound Interest Chemistry: These folks make some amazing chemistry infographics, that can make learning chemistry more visually engaging (and look great if printed and put up on your wall!)
Spoiler

Khan Academy: Although their videos aren't directly related to the VCE curriculum, they still cover some similar topics, and can be super helpful in providing a more in depth explanation of some content.

YouTube videos in general: There are so many fantastic, free Chemistry videos available on YouTube! Just search for what you're looking for; I watched countless hours to help build my understanding.

If anyone else has any suggestions please comment and I will add them here!

Commercial resources
I'll start by saying I do not think these additional resources are necessary for success. They are often expensive, and can sometimes be quite lacklustre. That being said, I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on a few resources, so I'll give my opinions on those I did have access to.

Highly Recommended:
    Exampro tests and trial exams: These were amazing. Fair warning: These wonít be for everyone, and they definitely are more difficult than most VCAA questions, but if youíre looking for something to extend you, consider these. Although it often went beyond the knowledge of the course, the questions were challenging, really helping me develop an ability to concisely and eloquently express myself through the practice they provided. I did the trial SACs throughout the year to help prepare me for my upcoming assessments, and the three trial exams before the exam period. The detailed solutions manual was amazing, and it really helped solidify my content knowledge. If I could only buy one resource, I'd buy these. Again thought, I wanna stress the stuff in here is way more difficult than it really ought to be, so just keep that in mind.
    ATAR Notes topic tests: Also fantastic. Unlike the Exampro, they adhere more strictly to the study design, but are slightly less challenging as a result. Also provided me with great practice for upcoming SACs. If you've got the money (and want to support an amazing organisation!) I'd definitely consider these.


    Recommended:
      Connect Education app: This is kind of an alternative version of Edrolo that your school may provide you. I found this so, so, so much better than Edrolo. The questions that form mini tests are actually really good, and they have short videos explaining topics really well, albeit they are brief. Although I only got access to this late in the year (it's new and my school took up a trial offer), I found it to be a great exam revision companion. I'd encourage you to ask your teacher whether they can make it available to you; it's fantastic. 
      Connect Education notes: Only looked through these briefly, but they seem to be a comprehensive summary. Iíd buy these over the A+ Notes.


      Not Recommended:
        Edrolo: Shallow explanations and they simply recycle VCAA questions in their tests, rather than having original questions. My school gave us access to this, used it twice and never touched it again. Simply not detailed enough; it doesn't provide anymore insight than your teacher or textbook would.
        A+ Notes: These are essentially summary notes. I didn't find these particularly useful, although they did have a few useful tidbits. If I was doing 3/4 Chemistry again I wouldn't bother with these.
        Cambridge Checkpoints: These were pretty good, having some good original questions. However, I've never really been a fan of paying for what is essentially rearranged VCAA questions, so I'd give this a miss, as itís poor value for money.
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        Learning the course content

        Whereas most subjects in VCE can be broadly dichotomised into either a content based subject, where the primary emphasis is on understanding and explaining concepts (such as Biology), or a skill based subject, which rather assesses your ability to 'do' something (such as Methods), Chemistry blurs this divide; it can be considered both a content and skill based subject. In the end of year examination, you will face questions that require a written response explaining your understanding of an idea/concept (content questions), as well as questions that require you to perform a calculation or interpret a set of data (skills based questions). This can make studying for Chemistry quite difficult; memorisation won't take you far, but having consolidated and extensive knowledge isn't enough either. Due to the 'dual' nature of the types of questions asked, you will have to have a deep understanding of the content, and have practiced the potential calculations you may be required to perform.
         
        The best way to 'learn' something will vary significantly between individuals, especially for a diverse subject like chemistry, so instead I'll just explain what generally worked for me.

        • I always started learning a topic by reading the relevant textbook chapters. I wasn't really into highlighting or anything, I just read through until something didn't make sense, then I'd go back and read it again until it did. If I couldn't grasp it, I'd note it down somewhere as something to come back to later. I'd then proceed to complete the chapter questions, again, noting down any question I couldn't seem to get the answer to, or that I thought was difficult.

        • Having read the textbook and answered the questions, I'd move onto seeking clarification of anything I didn't understand. This was usually through simply researching the topic online, or coming back to it when I was rejuvenated and less frazzled. I'd then go on to look for more detailed explanations of what I learned; using a combination of the resources listed above to round off any gaps in my understanding. I think its worth noting that extending yourself beyond the course is fine, I did it quite a bit, it can often provide a better explanation for concepts that otherwise may have been a little fuzzy. However, make sure you don't go overboard. You won't face any questions on the exam on areas outside the study design, so don't spend too much time doing so.

        • Once I had looked at multiple resources and felt confident in my understanding, I'd proceed to write my notes. I think this was probably the most important step in developing my understanding. I never really looked back on my notes after writing them, but it was the process of writing them; logically sequencing everything I'd learnt from a variety of different resources allowed me to more easily access the content from my memory, and made me feel as if I had developed a deep and thorough understanding. Being a visual learner, I liked to use lots of colour and diagrams, as shown:
          Spoiler

        • Having felt like I'd mastered the content, I'd turn my attention to practice. This included completing the text book chapter review, checkpoints questions and a few VCAA questions relevant to the topic. If I didn't understand something, I'd ensure that before proceeding I found some sort of explanation.

        • Finally, I'd test myself by doing some practice SACs. This helped me solidify everything I had learnt in the last few weeks, whilst also provided me with an indication of where I was at, what I understood, and what I didn't.
        As you can probably tell, at every stage, I'd always take note if I didn't understand something or if I made a mistake, and then I'd learn from it. This is undoubtedly the most important habit I developed. You can't really practice what you don't understand, and not reflecting upon your own mistakes only leaves you vulnerable to make the same mistakes again. If you take just one thing from this guide, don't neglect what you don't understand, give it all your attention until it clicks!
         

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        General advice for throughout the year

        Work hard, and work efficiently
        One of the biggest differences I found between Year 11 and Year 12 was the sheer volume of work requiring attention, which makes sense, considering I undertook only 2 Unit 3/4 in Year 11 but had to balance 5 in Year 12. As a result, I found that I didn't have the time to do absolutely everything I would have liked to have done. So I'd encourage you to think how to make best use of your time throughout the year, and prioritise revision and study that will have the largest positive impact on your results. For example, sitting down and memorising every definition in the textbook probably isn't the best use of time, considering definition questions in VCE Chem are hardly sighted. 

        Use class time wisely
        How you spend class time is dependent on you, your peers and your teacher. Having worked ahead and following a discussion with my teacher, I was allowed to focus on independent study throughout my classes, which basically involved me just reading ahead and answering the textbook questions whilst tuning out from whatever was being discussed in the class. In general, I actually wouldn't suggest such an approach, and definitely not suggest doing so if you have a strong cohort and engaging class discussions. However, if you are part of a weaker cohort and are confident in self learning the content, it can definitely be beneficial to somewhat remove yourself from the general classroom setting. Whatever the case, the most important point is to figure out how to make the best use of your class time. This is honestly so important, so much time each week is spent in class, it is a missed opportunity if you waste it. Just make sure you communicate with your teacher about your individual situation, so they understand your goals and reasoning behind any requests you may have.

        Do practice questions consistently
        Exactly what it sounds like. This means going beyond just your textbook questions; whether its hand outs from your teacher or old exam questions, doing questions not only helps you hone your skills, but also helps solidify your content knowledge. In the end, your study score in chemistry is entirely dictated by how will you can interpret and respond to written questions, so the sooner you can practice and become familiar with the process, the better.

        Practice experimental design questions
        These were the questions I found most challenging in VCE chem. Over the last few years, VCAA has really begun shifting focus to more heavily assessing students understanding of proper scientific practices and procedures, and let me tell you, there were some plain weird questions regarding such on the 2017 exam. At the beginning of the year I found these questions really difficult. The only way I found helpful for improving in this area was practice. I can guarantee you VCAA will ask multiple questions assessing this area in 2018 and beyond, so it is absolutely critical that you do not neglect this, and get plenty of practice, as boring as it may seem. If I was to start Year 12 again, I'd do as many of these kinds of questions I could find.

        Make the data booklet your new best friend
        Seriously. By the time the exams rolls around in November, you shouldn't have to waste time flicking through the data booklet to find things, you simply don't have time. Begin referencing it each time you do practice questions, and once you've completed the course give it a few reads over; there's some great clarifications from VCAA in it, as well as some hints to what could possible appear on future exams. Furthermore, make sure to constantly refer to the study design, as a checklist for what you need to know, and what you donít.

        Use your scientific calculator
        I saw many students in my cohort going through practice problems using their CAS calculator, or seemingly using a different sort of calculator every few weeks. I'd strongly recommend against such temptations to use a CAS; you will not be allowed to use such a calculator in your end of year examination. Instead, spend the time getting to know your scientific calculator inside out through using it to complete all questions. There is simply not enough time in the examination to be fiddling around with your calculator, trying to figure out how it works. If you become familiar with your calculator throughout the year, you'll increase you efficiency in the end of year examination; not only by being able to type inputs more quickly, but also being able to enter them more accurately, reducing the chance of a costly input error. 

        Practice using significant figures
        Again, this is something I found helpful to practice throughout the entire year, not just in the lead up to exams. You should have learned how to do so in Units 1/2, if not, now is the time to learn.
        Spoiler
        The above instructions are found at the beginning of Section B in the VCE Chemistry exams. VCAA make it clear that they expect all answers to be given to the appropriate number of significant figures; the same amount as the lowest number of significant figures used throughout the calculation. There are a variety of rules involving significant figures that you'll have to learn to be able to master this, so its important to practice from start to ensure it becomes a habit. Answering with the appropriate number of significant figures is often explicitly stated as required in many examination reports, such as this one from 2016, so it is critical to answer with the appropriate amount in order to minimise your loss of marks. 
        Spoiler


        Construct a mistake list
        Take note of any common mistakes you find yourself making and write them down in a list. Chemistry is one of those subjects where you can lose marks on 'silly mistakes', such as forgetting to include states in a chemical equation, omitting the sign on an enthalpy of reaction value, or accidentally dividing a value when you should have multiplied it. Whenever you catch yourself making mistakes like this more than once, note them down, and form a list. If you are aware of the small mistakes you are prone to making, you'll be able to quickly rectify and avoid making such errors again. 

        Draw connections
        Every topic in chemistry can be linked to another, seemingly separate topic. One of the largest differences I found between VCE physics and chemistry was the assessors willingness to combine multiple topics into a single question; never occurring in physics exams but almost always occurring in chemistry exams. This can make some chemistry questions quite difficult, as it can be challenging to really figure out what parts of the course the assessors are testing.  Hence, it is important to consider how topics fit together throughout the year, not only to prepare you for these difficult exam questions, but also as a form of revision of previous topics. It might not make much sense before you start learning the content, but once you do you'll begin to see how beautifully each topic complements the next, so really think about and build these connections and incorporate them into your understanding throughout the year.

        Choose your investigation question wisely
        Note to self: Do not attempt a university level back titration in the midst of the madness of VCE.

        When you undertake your experimental investigation, there is no criteria regarding how Ďdifficultí or Ďadvancedí your experiment is. Donít make yourself do any more work than you have to! Construct an achievable methodology to answer a relatively uncomplicated investigative question, youíll thank me later :)

        Make it fun!
        Chemistry has the potential to be one of the most fun VCE subjects out there! What other subjects can you blow stuff up in and learn to make alcohol in? Enjoy all your practicals and really attempt to engage with how what you learn in the classroom can explain aspects of your everyday life. Read widely about chemistry, not only from guides and textbooks, but about events in the real world.
        The more you enjoy the experience, the more likely you are to put in the hard yards, and hence, the more likely you are to excel.

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        Exam preparation

        In the end, the study score you receive for VCE Chemistry is largely dictated by the mark you receive on a single exam. Whether or not this is really the best way to test a studentís understanding is a topic for another day, but itís what weíre stuck with, and thus it is really important to get comfortable with the examination process.

        Here I just wanted to talk about how I prepared for my Chemistry exam; in which I believe was the best method for me. There are a whole range of viable methods out there, but I just want to share what I found worked, as I think it would work for a lot of other people too.

        Firstly, I just want clarify that the number of practice exams you do isnít as important as how much you learn from each one. Personally, I completed 23 exams for VCE Chemistry. However, I completed 40 for VCE Biology last year and only achieved a 45. It is imperative that you reflect, and learn from, each practice examination you do, in order to get the most out of each exam.

        Tl;dr: Quality >> Quantity

        So, here are the guidelines I used for getting the most out of each practice exam I completed.

        Finish the course before you begin practice exams
        Thereís little point in trying to do full examinations if you havenít finished learning what youíll be examined on. Make sure, that before you begin, you feel comfortable with most of the course. Read back through notes, do some short quizzes, test your friends and so on.

        Replicate the examination conditions
        This might not be possible for your first few exams. Itís perfectly valid to ease your way into your first few practice examinations without time pressure, and open book if need be. However, it is important that after easing yourself in, that you attempt to replicate examination conditions as much as possible. Personally, I did almost all my practice exams in school uniform, in a quiet space, with the same pencil and calculator I used in the final exam, under strict time conditions. If you can, I hear its also a good idea to try and do some practice exams where your actual exam be held, context based learning or something like that please donít kill me if this isn't technically correct I didnít to psych. Also, ensure to always use the data booklet as you do practice exams! Youíll have to use it in the real exam, so may as well practice with it.

        Replicating the exam conditions as closely as possible will hopefully reduce your stress on the actual exam day; itís just another exam, and youíve done plenty like it before.

        Don't neglect reading time
        This falls under the Ďreplicating exam conditionsí guideline, but I think it deserves its own section, its that important. For some reason, I feel like a lot of students fail to value reading time. Learning the most effective way to use reading time is a process that can only be practiced during trial exams, so ensure to always take the full 15 minutes of reading time in practice exams.

        How you use it is a personal choice. I found that, for me, the most effective way was to spend the first 12 minutes going through questions in Section B I knew I would find the most difficult (electrochemistry, equilibria and experimental design), before spending the last 3 quickly knocking of as many multiple choice questions as I could, answering them in my head.

        Don't worry about using pen or pencil
        Although the exam does state to use a blue or black pen for Section B, I elected to use pencil. I knew there was a tiny risk some of my answers may be hard to read in pencil, but when I considered how messy and stressful it would be for me working in pen, the risk of using pencil was absolutely the right choice for me. Iíd encourage you to just use whatever you feel comfortable with at your own risk

        Carefully select which practice exams to do
        This links back to my tip earlier, which was to work efficiently. You wonít have time to do every single practice paper ever created so itís really important that you carefully choose which ones you will complete. The best advice I can give you here is that VCAA exams should be your number 1 priority. Although the older exams have a few irrelevant questions and are split into individual units, they are still worth doing, just leave the questions that are no longer applicable to the recent study design. Personally, I did all the VCAA exams from 2005 onwards, and only a few company papers. If Iím going to be completely honest with you, most company papers are not worth your time. Hereís a Ďtier listí of sorts:

        The best: VCAA Exams 2002-2018 (These exams should be prioritised, especially the most recent ones. Donít forget the 2017 VCAA Sample Exam can also be used!)
        Highly recommended: Phenomenolís phenomenal practice exam and Exam Pro Trial exams (These are also great, however they do go a bit beyond the course to increase difficulty)
        Good: Neap and STAV (Worth doing, but only if you've completed the above)
        Not worth your time: TSSM, Lisachem, Engage and so on. (These aren't always outright bad, they just aren't nearly as good as those above.)

        Order can also be important. I did the Ďolderí VCAA exams (2005-2016) first, before doing 2017 company exams, and lastly, I completed the VCAA trial exam for the new study design. Iíd recommend doing the most recent VCAA exam last, as sort of a Ďfinalí practice before your actual examination.

        Carefully consider when you complete your practice exams
        When you choose to do practice exams is just as important in which exams you pick. Again, relating back to how to get the most out of your practice exams, Iíd never recommend doing a practice exam when youíre stressed our tired. I know whenever I did, I always under-performed, I couldnít focus properly, and it only made me more stressed as a result. Instead, take a break, and come back to it when youíre in a better head space. Additionally, try to avoid doing practice exams back to back. This can be fatiguing, and make it hard to properly focus.   

        When you begin and conclude completing practice exams is also worth considering. You donít want to start too late, or youíll run out of time, but you donít want to start too early either, as you run the risk of becoming bored. I began late August, and I felt like this gave me sufficient time to complete 20 or so practice exams.

        I concluded practice exams a week before my chemistry exam. I felt like doing any more would just make me stressed. So instead, I spent some time relaxing, reflecting upon my previous mistakes, and made sure I was refreshed and mentally prepared for the final examination. Iíd encourage you to try this too; youíve had 9 months to learn what you need to know, so if youíve done the hard work already, I think your best bet is to make sure youíre refreshed and ready to go for the exam.

        The process of marking
        Marking your exams once youíve completed them is a vital part of getting the most out of each exam you complete. Personally, I preferred to mark my exams myself, as I felt like it gave me an insight into what an examiner may be looking for. Iíd recommend doing it this way, especially for VCAA exams, as reading through the examiners reports is a worthwhile endeavour.

        However, if you choose to do so, you must mark yourself harshly, donít be lenient by giving yourself extra marks here and there. ďOh, thatís what I meantĒ is a common utterance that came from my mouth, but itís important to mark whatís been put on the page, not what was in your head. Youíre only cheating yourself if you donít mark fairly; recognising your mistakes is the best way to prevent them from reoccurring. That being said, donít discredit yourself if your answer isnít word for word identical to the solutions. I know I was often unfair on myself. If youíre unsure, Iíd suggest asking your teacher, or here on the forums!

        Iíd also suggest taking a break between completing your exam and marking it. Completing an exam can be quite tiring, and to eliminate some bias from your marking, it is worth taking a step back for half an hour so and clearing your head, before you go on to marking.


        Keeping track of what you know, and what you don't

        Once youíve marked your exams and added up the total, it can be easy to just stop there and move onto the next. However, in order to extract as much as I could from each exam, I found it better if I reflected upon each exam, writing down what I did well, what I got wrong, and how I could improve for the next. This took the form of what I called my ĎChemistry Assessment Review Documentí which looked something like this:
        Spoiler

        In it, Iíd take notes of what I got wrong, or anything that I wasnít sure of. Doing this for each practice SAC and exam I completed left me with a 10,000 word document, outlining my previous mistakes. I read through this a few times before the exam, to ensure I didnít make these same mistakes again. The more mistakes you identify youíre likely to make, the less mistakes you will be able to make on the final exam.

        Devise a 'plan of attack'
        Having completed some practice exams, you should probably have identified the most effective method of approaching the exam for you as an individual. I found it helpful to write out my Ďplaní of what I was going to do in the exam, both to make sure I was consciously aware of what I was attempting to do, but also to reduce my stress during the examination. This plan could include how you plan to spend reading time, at what time you should have completed a certain section by, or what you should be looking for when checking over answers. This was what mine looked like:
        Spoiler

        Look after yourself
        This is extremely important. Admittedly, I really neglected looking after myself throughout the examination period, and I regret it. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, that youíre eating well, and that your keeping active throughout the whole year, but especially in the lead up to exams. Itís impossible to perform at your best when youíre not well and healthy.


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        Exam advice
        Preparation is undoubtedly important, but itís also important to have some strategies and tips to employ in the exam itself.


        Highlight key words
        This might just be an individual preference, but I would always highlight important parts of the stem of every question. Units, amounts, chemical formulae, key words, whatever it was, highlighting helped ensure I never forgot key parts of the question as I was answering.

        Read, read, answer, read
        This was the format Iíd complete each question using; Iíd read through it twice whilst highlighting key words to make sure I really grasped what the question was asking, before starting my answer. Once Iíd completed the question, Iíd read it through again, to ensure I hadnít forgotten to give the answer in the required form. This leads onto my next tip.

        Get it right first time
        Itís really worth taking the extra time and caution to get the question correct the first time; it can be very difficult to pick up on mistakes later, and you might not even have time to! Make sure you input numbers into the calculator carefully, as there is no worse way to lose marks than a simple calculator error.

        Don't panic!at the disco...
        I was once told: ďIf you panic, the exam is already over.Ē If you canít seem to get the answer to a question, you feel like you donít know it, or are running short on time, do everything in your power to not excessively stress about it. I know that at multiple points during my exam, I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what the answer was. Instead of panicking, I took a deep breath, put a little mark next to the question, and moved on. When you come back to it later in a better frame of mind, youíll often find a way.

        Shade in the correct bubble
        As per title. It can be so easy to lose marks from accidentally shading the wrong bubble, so if you have time, go back over your answers and check youíve shaded what you meant to.

        Elimination
        If you arenít confident with answering a multiple-choice question, try to use a process of elimination, donít just blindly guess. Often one or two answers are clearly wrong, and using some deductive skills, it is sometimes possible to attain the correct answer by ruling out those you know are incorrect.

        Change your answer with caution
        Unless you are completely sure you were wrong the first time, Iíd hesitate to change it. This might only be my own personal experience, but I found that I often regretted changing my answer in the last few minutes, as I often overlooked why I had put my original answer in the first place. Hence, Iíd advise not to change your original answer unless you are certain it is wrong.

        'Unit hacking'
        ĎUnit Hackingí was the term I used to explain how the units in a question can be used to help you get to the answer. For a basic example, if you had 2 moles of glucose, and wanted to find the weight in grams, youíd need to multiply by g/mol, which you should recognise as the unit for molar mass.
        Spoiler
        Keeping track of units in general is a good idea to help ensure youíre performing the correct calculations, to get the answer in the required form.

        Challenge your assumptions
        Perhaps the most useful tactic I employed whenever I got stuck on a question. Whenever I couldnít see to make sense of what I was doing, I wrote down a quick list of what I had assumed to be true before the part in which I was stuck. Quite often my point of difficulty had arisen because I had made a false assumption. This was extremely difficult for me learn at first, but with practice, it became much easy, and one of my most important problem solving skills.


        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        Thatís about it for now! If you've got to this point, thank you so much for reading! Iíll come back an update this guide as needed. If anyone spots any errors or has any suggestions or questions, please comment below. I hope you found this useful, and best of luck with your VCE studies! 😊
        [/list][/list][/list]
        « Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:20:15 pm by Vaike »

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        cookiedream

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 08:00:52 pm »
        +12
        Absolutely amazing, Vaike!! This will definitely be of great help to current and future VCE Chem students!

        What a legend ;D

        Edit: Now it looks like I won't have to write a Chem guide ahaha
        « Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 08:03:00 pm by cookiedream »
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        insanipi

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 08:05:27 pm »
        +6
        Great guide, Vaike!
        Added to the Chem resource list! ;D

        Vaike

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 08:08:04 pm »
        +7
        What a legend ;D
        Edit: Now it looks like I won't have to write a Chem guide ahaha

        Thank you Cookiedream! Awesome words to hear from such an inspiring resource writer! Hey, the more guides the better :)

        Great guide, Vaike!
        Added to the Chem resource list! ;D

        Thanks insanipi :)

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        brenden

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 08:15:23 pm »
        +6
        AMAZING guide. If anyone wants to check out the ATAR Notes Topic Tests mentioned, you can view sample pages through this link - https://atarnotes.com/product/vce-chemistry-units-34-topic-tests/
        ✌️just do what makes you happy ✌️

        Lear

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 08:17:21 pm »
        +4
        This is really insightful and i'm sure will help many.
        Thank you so much for taking your time to write this :)
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        chooby

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 08:40:07 pm »
        +4
        Thank you so much for this!! Glad to see some more advice and guides that are more relevant to this year's study design.
        "It's not the building that matters; it's what happens in it that does" ~ Mark Conner

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        Vaike

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 09:42:14 am »
        +3
        AMAZING guide. If anyone wants to check out the ATAR Notes Topic Tests mentioned, you can view sample pages through this link - https://atarnotes.com/product/vce-chemistry-units-34-topic-tests/

        Definitely check these out!

        This is really insightful and i'm sure will help many.
        Thank you so much for taking your time to write this :)

        Thank you so much for this!! Glad to see some more advice and guides that are more relevant to this year's study design.

        Welcome :) I'm stoked so many have found this useful! 

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        Yertle the Turtle

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 05:13:37 pm »
        +2
        Awesome guide, Vaike! Thanks so much, this is going to be so useful to me this year, as Chem was always going the be the subject I am most unsure about! Great job! ;D
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        Vaike

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 10:10:54 pm »
        +4
        Can anyone give me an example of a experimental design question? i do not know what it is!

        Heya! One example I quickly found was question 11 of the 2016 VCAA Chemistry examination. Experimental design questions can be quite varied, they may ask you to identify different types of variables, potential errors, safety hazards, to interpret results, to write an aim and so on. 

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        Gem24

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #10 on: January 31, 2018, 08:27:31 pm »
        +1
        Thank you Vaike!
        This is so helpful, I really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing up this super guide.
         ;D

        Vaike

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #11 on: January 31, 2018, 09:08:08 pm »
        +4
        Thank you Vaike!
        This is so helpful, I really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing up this super guide.
         ;D

        Hey Gem24! No worries, I wrote it with the intention of being handy; so I'm glad that you've found it useful :)

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        Owlbird83

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #12 on: February 09, 2018, 05:13:29 pm »
        +4
        Thanks this is really helpful!
        Just wondering how many hours of studying you recommend doing every night to get a 40+ score?
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        Vaike

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #13 on: February 15, 2018, 08:11:27 pm »
        +6
        Thanks this is really helpful!
        Just wondering how many hours of studying you recommend doing every night to get a 40+ score?

        Hey Owlbird83! I don't really think I'd put a number on it. Honestly, I think it's more meaningful to focus on the quality of you study, rather than how long you spend doing it. I'd suggest taking an active approach to studying, rather than a passive one. What I mean by that is really trying to engage with the course content; write your own notes, do plenty of practice problems, and even attempt to explain a topic to a friend or family member. If you can teach it, it's fair to say you must have a pretty good understanding of it. Try to avoid rereading information you already know, or simply reading over notes/guides, or doing more practice questions on areas you're already confident in. Without any active tasks, as it's much less likely such a passive approach will assist in your understanding, and it's really important to be as efficient as possible with your time, so don't spend too long recovering stuff you already know.

        If you feel like you're going into each SAC confident that realistically, you've done your best to prepare, and that you feel you understand the content well, you've done the right amount of study. If you're feeling as if you probably could have done more to learn a few concepts that were still hazy, or find yourself making silly mistakes that could have been avoided with more practice, well perhaps instead you might need to step up the quality or quantity of your study, whichever you believe to be lacking :)
        « Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 08:14:36 pm by Vaike »

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        My guide to VCE Chemistry

        Owlbird83

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        Re: My guide to VCE Chemistry
        « Reply #14 on: February 20, 2018, 07:24:15 pm »
        0
        Hey Owlbird83! I don't really think I'd put a number on it. Honestly, I think it's more meaningful to focus on the quality of you study, rather than how long you spend doing it. I'd suggest taking an active approach to studying, rather than a passive one. What I mean by that is really trying to engage with the course content; write your own notes, do plenty of practice problems, and even attempt to explain a topic to a friend or family member. If you can teach it, it's fair to say you must have a pretty good understanding of it. Try to avoid rereading information you already know, or simply reading over notes/guides, or doing more practice questions on areas you're already confident in. Without any active tasks, as it's much less likely such a passive approach will assist in your understanding, and it's really important to be as efficient as possible with your time, so don't spend too long recovering stuff you already know.

        If you feel like you're going into each SAC confident that realistically, you've done your best to prepare, and that you feel you understand the content well, you've done the right amount of study. If you're feeling as if you probably could have done more to learn a few concepts that were still hazy, or find yourself making silly mistakes that could have been avoided with more practice, well perhaps instead you might need to step up the quality or quantity of your study, whichever you believe to be lacking :)

        Thanks Vaike  :)
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