Revising for GCSE chemistry requires discipline, focus, and a can-do attitude. While it can feel difficult and stressful, it’s important to make sure you have a good grasp of the topics that will come up in your exam so you can pass with a good grade.
Revising is about strengthening your core knowledge of the subject, so don’t think you have to go over every tiny detail! Revision is also completely individual: what works for one person may not work for another. Find the way that you like to revise, whether that’s with visual aids, written notes, or practical activities, and then use that method as you go over all the different topics.
How to Revise for Chemistry GCSE
As we just mentioned, the most effective revision techniques for GCSE chemistry may vary from one student to another. No absolute formula or method exists. While some students may prefer listening to music while they study, others may find it too distracting, and will prefer visual, written, or kinetic learning.
Spend some time figuring out how you like to learn and then structure your revision session according to that. This will be crucial in helping you stay focussed and retain more information.
When revising for your GCSE chemistry, remember that it’s not all about memorising things – it’s about understanding them, too. This is because, like maths, chemistry requires both logical and analytical thinking. Instead of memorising balanced equations, for example, make sure you really understand why and how they’re balanced.
Understanding the fundamental rules and concepts of chemistry will ultimately allow you to solve a wide range of problems. For instance, if you have a strong understanding of the periodic table, you’ll be able to easily apply the concepts of electronegativity, orbitals, and valence electrons in chemical reactions. You’ll also be able to correctly predict reactions and balance the chemical equations.
Without further ado, here are some tips that might be useful in revising for GCSE chemistry:
- Start early!
Start revising around a couple of months before your exam date. This will give you the time you need to not only cover all the topics, but to also master any areas you’re struggling with.
That said, when revising, rip the bandaid off and start with topics that you aren’t very confident in. This will give you the time you need to master them – and ignoring difficult topics until you’re close to your exam date will create even more stress!
Revising early is important because it will give you time to rest and recharge in between revision sessions. This way, you’ll be more relaxed as you do it, and won’t have to cram in too much information at the last minute. It will also give you time to check your progress by answering sample exam questions, which will be difficult to do if you start revising too late.
However, don’t revise too far in advance! Leaving a lot of time between your revision and your exam means that you might be out of practice with the topics you studied earlier on. If you do decide to start early, keep refreshing your memory on the earlier topics you studied by glancing over notes or flashcards.
- Make a plan
When preparing for your chemistry GCSE exam, it’s a good idea to create a timetable for your revision sessions. This will help you structure your time more easily, and it will make it feel less daunting.
Having a plan when revising GCSE chemistry is like having a clear roadmap that will help you reach your goals. In addition to a timetable, your plan should include:
- Objectives, like what topics you need to work on
- How you’re going to achieve those objectives with specific revision techniques
- When you’re going to study specific topics each week
You can revise with a study partner, a teacher, or by yourself. If you prefer to revise on your own, have a plan in place for how you can make sure that you’re understanding the concepts or topics properly. This could be by using an online resource, or by creating flashcards with answers on the back that you can use to test your knowledge.
If there are any concepts you’re struggling to understand, make sure you know who you can ask for help, be it a teacher at school, a friend, or a parent.
When creating a revision plan for GCSE chemistry, think about which subjects you should prioritise first, or which subjects you’ll need to revise more than once. This will help you direct your focus and attention to the areas that need it most.
Your revision plan will be crucial in helping you gauge and adjust the pace at which you like to study. Again, this is entirely individual. For example, while some students may prefer to start revising slowly and then gradually increase their time and effort as they get closer to the exam date, others may prefer to do it the other way around. The point is to make a plan that fits your personal needs so that you can get the most out of every revision session.
- Re-read your revision notes
Make it a habit to take down notes about what you’re revising, especially if you come across any difficult or new information. Try to express it in your own words rather than simply copying it down, as this will help your brain digest it more easily.
Then, when it gets closer to your exam date, you’ll be able to reread your revision notes as a way of refreshing your memory on all the different topics. This will prevent you from having to face textbooks and lengthy reference materials all over again. Instead, you’ll be able to get a quick but comprehensive overview of everything you’ve revised so far.
- Remove distractions
Procrastination is revision’s number one enemy. To stick to your timetable and have fruitful revision sessions, you’ll need to use some good old self discipline and motivation by removing any type of distraction from your revision space.
Distractions can include things like video games, social media, TV – whatever it is that tears your attention away, remove it! You may even find it helpful to put your phone on flight mode so that you don’t get deterred by messages and notifications.
- Take breaks
If you’re starting to feel claustrophobic while revising, incorporate regular short breaks into your schedule so that you can get your fix of daily activities without compromising your work ethic. A good structure is having a fifteen minute or half an hour break after one hour of revision.
Taking breaks while you revise is important for a few reasons:
- Having a break from revision will help your brain consolidate all the information you’ve just absorbed
- Without breaks, you run the risk of overworking yourself, which will make you less receptive to new information
- Knowing that you can have a break at a certain time will give you the drive and incentive you need to push through your revision session and stay focussed
What to Revise for GCSE Chemistry in 2021
In preparation for the GCSE chemistry exam in 2021, you should revise the following topics:
- Atomic structure
- Carbon bonds
- Chemical calculations and moles
- Compounds and mixtures
- Atmospheric chemistry
- Energy transfers
- Haber process
- Ionic bonds
- Metallic bonds
- Organic chemistry
- The periodic table of elements
- Rate of reactions
- Reactivity of metals
- States of matter
In addition to textbooks and online learning hubs, you may also want to watch tutorial videos when revising GCSE chemistry topics, as well as look at your class notes.
When you think you’ve mastered a particular area, try answering some sample questions that you’re likely to be asked in the exam. A great resource to use is past GCSE chemistry papers, which you can take under exam conditions to thoroughly prepare yourself for the big day.
For more help and support on revising for GCSE chemistry, read our revision series:
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Atomic Structure And The Periodic Table
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Properties of Matter
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Quantitative Chemistry
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Energy Changes
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: The Rate and Extent of Chemical Change
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Organic Chemistry
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Chemical Analysis
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Chemistry of the Atmosphere
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Using Resources
- Chemistry GCSE Revision: Practical Skills
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