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Studying for HSC Chemistry

By Alex Crawford in HSC
13th of April 2021

Chemistry can be a very tricky subject to study for, if you don’t have a good plan in place. Picture the difference between someone who updates their notes every day on the bus trip home, compared to someone who tries to make their summaries in the holidays before the exam block. Even though this is only a small change, it’s organisation like this that really makes the difference in studying for chemistry – a consistent, small effort will often go much further than a concerted push at the end.

And I know what you’re thinking as you read this – “well of course that’s true, and its true for every subject, and it’s much easier said than done”. And yes, these are all fair criticisms. However, that hopefully just means you can apply what I say in this article to every subject. And while it may be a challenge to apply, if you can get a system working for you, it’s actually a lot off your back. So let’s dive into making a system that’s personally tailored to you:


Split the study up into bits. This is probably advice you hear all the time, but I mean it in a different way here – rather than splitting it up into manageable chunks and goals, you want to split the subject into different ‘areas’. For example, you might decide to practice multiple choice questions, short answer questions, and calculation questions separately.

This can be a great way to keep yourself motivated and give yourself some structure – instead of getting disheartened by having to practice a whole bunch of stuff at once, you can split it into small chunks, like doing 5 multiple choice questions on the bus in the morning. Or you might want to do a longer response every Sunday and bring it in to your teacher for marking on Monday. This is something you can work out yourself, but it’s a great way to stop the study feeling like a massive chore.


Keep up to date. This also sounds like a really dumb bit of advice that you’ll hear all the time, but chemistry is a subject that moves quickly and has a lot of content to cover. When you learn something, put it into your notes that night, and make a note to practice it over the weekend. A diligent plan like that really sets you apart when it comes to the exam, because you have the advantage of a massive build-up of study time in the terms before.


Give yourself breaks. In the HSC, and the Prelim year as well, you’re handling a ton of subjects at a really high level. As such, it’s super important to be able to give yourself a break from chemistry, so that you can either relax properly, or focus on something else that’s giving you more trouble. Overall, you need to build the intuition of knowing, ‘hey, I’m pretty on top of Chem at the moment’, so you can safely take a break, or switch the subject up.

Overall, studying for chemistry (and anything really) can be a bit of a daunting task, but if you tackle it with these three bits of advice, I’m hoping it’ll become less of a chore, and instead something not too tricky, with the extra breaks you desire.