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Exam Preparation Week 1

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Let’s Ace Spectroscopy!!!

Hello everyone! My name is Ashane and I’ll be sharing how I prepared for my Chemistry (and Physics) VCE exams over the coming week. I thought I would give a quick introduction so that you get to know a little bit about me. I am currently a third-year university student studying Biomedical Science and Engineering. I have been teaching Chemistry (amongst other subjects) ever since I graduated from school all the way back in 2017! I am really excited to write these blog posts for you all and I hope you enjoy reading them every week. It has certainly been crazy times of late and I do not envy your position at all! This has probably been one of the toughest years for VCE students and you should give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far! I will try my best to pass on as much wisdom and knowledge as I can and hopefully you can learn a tip or trick here and there that will ultimately help you smash your remaining SACs and the final exam! Now, let’s dive into some Chemistry!!!

Spectroscopy is one of the harder topics of Unit 4 Chemistry and that is why I think it is essential to continually revise the topic, even if you have already covered it at school or completed your SAC. When I was completing spectroscopy for the first time, the hardest aspect of the topic for me was the theory behind how each type of spectroscopy works. I think this week is a great time to nail down this theory. A great way to do this, is to utilise a method called “Active Recall”. This method basically involves you creating a set of questions about spectroscopy and testing yourself on those questions. Ideally, you practice “Spaced Repetition” as well which is where you revise over these questions periodically over time (for example once a week). If you do these two things, I guarantee you will know the concepts like an expert come exam time! For this week, I think creating a set of questions is a great start!

Now, moving on to the most important aspect of tackling spectroscopy…QUESTIONS! I know you have probably heard this a thousand times from your teachers, but unfortunately it is true! The best way to learn how to use the spectrums, how to figure out functional groups (IR spectroscopy) and how to determine the unknown molecules in their entirety (NMR spectroscopy) is to do question upon question upon question. When I was doing spectroscopy, my first point of call was my textbook. Despite sometimes seeming a little too straight forward, textbook questions are a great way to nail the fundamentals and measure whether or not you understand the basics. After this, I would suggest moving on to doing questions from sources outside the textbook. This may be in the form of past SACs, revision booklets or anything of the like. Do I suggest that you attempt some past exam questions? Of course! I know the exam is quite a few weeks away, but it is never too early to start doing exam questions! A lot of students are reluctant to do past exam questions due to changes in the study design, but a lot of the questions for spectroscopy are still relevant! If you come across any concepts that you haven’t seen before, I would suggest that you check the answers (only for that section!) and carry on. Spectroscopy has been around for a very long time, so questions from older exams still apply! Questions can be tedious and take some time to get through but trust me it will all be worth it went you rack up 10-15 easy marks on the exam!

In summary, to tackle spectroscopy this week you should aim to create some questions revolving around the theory behind spectroscopy and smash through some textbook and exam questions! This will help you get a really good grasp of spectroscopy and leave you with less revision to do at the end of the year!

What mindset should I have for Chemistry this week?

Every week I will be giving you a mindset that worked best for me when I was studying Chemistry. Again, you may not feel that certain mindsets apply to you, but hopefully at least one or two resonate with you throughout the remaining weeks and help you in your preparation for the final exam!

For this week, I would encourage you to adopt an optimistic mindset! Also think about making a plan for the rest of the year, I feel that now is the perfect time to look ahead and realise that there are only a few more weeks left. Time will fly by and after exams you will have the best holidays ever! So, remind yourself that studying and working hard towards your goals will definitely be worth the effort! On that note, set some goals for the rest of the year- be sure to make them SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound) and mix up some short-term goals with some longer ones. Be optimistic of what is to come and hopefully some relaxation in restrictions help with this too!

Weekly Tips and Tricks

That is all from me this week! I hope you all have a really productive and effective week and get excited about what is to come in the future! Here are three parting tips and tricks to help you get through the week:

1. Plan out what work you aim to complete for Chemistry this week (on Sunday or Monday)

2. Make sure you try completing questions right through before checking the answers!

  • Remember - it is awesome to make mistakes, because that is the most effective way to learn!

3. Ask a friend to check in with you at the end of the week to see if you have hit your Chemistry goals! This will help you keep yourself accountable!

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