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Tips for exam day

Welcome back to my final blog on HSC Chemistry!

This blog will focus on exam tips for both reading and writing time, tips on what you should do during this final week of studying and on the day before your exam. Also, I will cover some tips on ways to stay calm on the day of your exam!

Exam tips:

Reading time (5 minutes) – it’s very important to use your 5 minutes of reading time effectively as it is super helpful!

In the 5 minutes I would recommend that you do one of the following:

1. Do as many multiple questions as possible in your head which don’t require a calculator to get to your answer (I always did this method!).

2. Start reading through the short/long responses and think about how you may structure your responses, or the type of calculations that will be required.

Writing time (3 hours):

  • Make sure you read the questions properly. Do not accidently skip an important term or a sentence as it could provide you with clues on what is expected in your response.

  • If you are unsure of a question, do not worry! Skip the question and continue with the next question and go back to that question after you have completed the paper. It’s perfectly okay to complete the questions that you are most confident in first as this will help to maximise your marks!

Now if you are completely unsure about what to write for a question, I would suggest writing the definition, a chemical equation or any sentence that may be closely related to that concept. In this way, you might still have a chance to gain a mark.

  • Pay attention to the key terms the question begins with because it highlights what you are expected to write. Here are some examples of common key terms:

- Compare: differences and similarities

- Discuss: identify issue and write points for and against

- Explain: cause and effect(s)

- Outline: in general terms

- Identify: recognise and name

- Analyse: explain main ideas, why they are important and how they are related

- Assess: advantages, disadvantages and a final judgement

- Describe: identify and give characteristics/features

- Justify: argument and points supporting your argument

- Evaluate: points for (provide reasoning) + points against (provide reasoning) and a final judgement.

  • Calculation questions – it’s very easy to make substitution or calculation errors! To prevent this, pay attention to the numbers you are substituting and make sure they are correct. If you have time left after finishing the paper, go through your calculations and make sure each step has been done correctly.

What should you do this week?

During the week before my Chemistry exam to make myself feel completely comfortable with each module, I dedicated one day in the week to each module. That is, on Monday I only focused on module 5 where I went over all the content, completed application-based question and picked out questions from past HSC and trial papers that covered module 5 concepts. Then on Tuesday I focused on module 6 and again went through content and all the calculation-based questions that could appear. Similarly, Wednesday I covered module 7 and Thursday I covered module 8. Also, when picking out questions for each module I tried choosing the harder type questions to make myself feel more prepared.

I found this method very useful because by the end of those four days, I felt confident with each module, and I was able to target any problems I previously had with each module. I would definitely recommend trying this out! If you need more than one day for a specific module, then it would be best to allocate two days!

What should you do the day before the exam?

  • Briefly go through the common types of questions that may appear in the HSC exam. For example, the day before my exam I mainly focused on organic reactions and making sure that I am 100% comfortable with analysing mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, proton, and carbon-13 NMR.

  • Make sure you have all the necessary equipment ready for your exam. This includes: 2-3 black pens, a pencil, rubber, ruler and a NESA – approved calculator. You can double check if your calculator is NESA approved from the following website:

  • Make sure you are aware of how you will be travelling to the exam venue to prevent any confusion on the day of your exam.

  • Eat well and get lots of sleep! This is very important so that you are rejuvenated and focused on the following day.

How can you feel calm on the day of your exam?

  • This might sound super random but eat the same breakfast that you normally eat! I do not recommend changing your breakfast routine on the day of your exams. This is because it can affect the way you may feel on the day since you aren’t used to that certain meal.

  • Be at your exam venue 30 minutes before your exam with your exam equipment.

  • Do not cram any content in the morning of your exam. This will make you feel more flustered and stressed out. Always remember you have worked your hardest and tried your best!

  • While waiting outside the exam hall, try surrounding yourself with friends who aren’t stressing out too much and who aren’t asking last minute questions. This will help you remain calm!

Quote of the week (last one!):

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”

– Mary Kay Ash

That’s the end to my last HSC Chemistry blog! I hope this 5-week blog series has been helpful to you in some way! I wish you all the best! It will all be over very soon and don’t forget to enjoy your holidays, you all deserve it!


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