Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another week of the Chemistry blog! I hope everyone has had a great week and taken some time out to enjoy some of the lovely weather we have had! I am guessing that everyone is feeling a little bit nervous and very excited to hit what will be your last term of school… forever! That’s right, forever! For anyone that missed last week’s blog we had a look at how to account for mistakes you make while revising. We also discussed how to approach food chemistry, particularly looking at the benefits of making summaries. If you missed that post, I highly recommend you go and have a read as we will be referring to some of those things I mentioned this week as well!
How can I manage my Chemistry revision amongst all my other subjects?
This week is the start of your final push towards exams. I know I have spoken about a direct exam focus coming into play over the last few weeks, but starting the last term is a formal beginning of the end! As such, I thought that this week would be a great time to give some advice on how to best manage the constant flow of studying, especially with school commitments ramping back up.
Maintaining a routine to my study was one of the hardest aspects of completing year 12; however, it ended up being one of the most beneficial aspects as well. Why was it beneficial? Well, the study habits I developed throughout year 12 are the study habits that I utilise to this day and I believe that maintaining good habits is essential at this time of the year.
Over the break, you probably came across the classic question, “What am I going to study today?”. This question came across my mind many times and it took some time to address. Once all of your SACs are finished, you will have free reigns on deciding what to study and it is essential that you are able to manage the work you are completing. The first and most important aspect to this is ensuring to actively include breaks and time outs. It is very easy to fall into the trap of studying constantly throughout the last month before exams; however, it is very detrimental as you run the risk of burning out. Breaks can take whatever form you like but being aware that you can’t just study all day is key in balancing the constant flow of studying.
Beyond this, organising work from different subjects can be done in multiple ways. I took on the philosophy that I was aiming to do as best as I could in every subject, and it is one I encourage you all to adopt as well. I have had students in the past say to me that Chemistry is going to be in their bottom two, so they are not going to do as much revision for the subject. My problem with that is two-fold. Firstly, you have spent an entire two years studying the subject so it would be a shame to give up now! Secondly, you never know what will end up in your top four. Just predicting, I thought that Chemistry would not be in my top four, but it ended up being there and a subject that I thought would be in my top four had a really hard exam where I didn’t do so well. Trying hard in all of your subjects is a very safe way of going about things, as you are not increasing the pressure on yourself to perform in a few particular subjects. Rather, you can go into the exam period knowing that you are confident in all your subjects and even if something goes wrong in a certain exam, there is no impact on your top four subjects.
So how do you manage your study for all of your subjects? Well creating some sort of plan is essential; however, this plan should work best for you. I know some people that make very elaborate plans on what their revision is going to look like for the week, and if that works for you then go for it! For me, it was as simple as writing down a list of five things to complete in the day (including some form of relaxation). This worked well for me as it did not restrict me into studying subjects that I didn’t need to study for and allowed me to focus on the things that was most important. The problem with preplanning subjects is that you are not able to prioritise what revision you need to complete. If you have gone through all of the Chemistry content but have some areas of issue with Physics, then you are far better studying Physics first, as it is of a higher priority. Utilising the traffic light scheme (as explained in previous weeks) is great to prioritise even the subjects that you need to be focussing on! For those who missed that post, designating red (desperately need revision), yellow (need some revision), green (comfortable) to both subjects and the topics within the subject is a great way of determining what you need to study and what is of greatest priority.
To summarise, tailoring your study to what is of the greatest priority is what is key to maintaining a constant flow of studying. This tailoring should be done in a way that is best for you, but I would recommend actively including time for relaxation and breaks in your plan!
How do I get the most out of chemistry questions?
We have spoken a lot about the benefits of completing questions as a part of chemistry revision and we have even talked about processes we can implement whilst completing the questions. In saying this, you may be wondering whether or not you are getting a lot out of the questions you are doing for chemistry and this is a common feeling amongst students at this time of the year. Grinding question after question can get pretty repetitive and when I was revising chemistry, I really did not want to be doing questions for the sake of doing questions. As such, I implemented a few habits into my study to ensure that I was getting the most out of the questions I was doing. What were these habits? Well let’s find out!
After getting through a fair amount of questions and realising my areas of weakness, I found that completing chemistry questions by topic was becoming less effective. I would get in the groove of doing the same type of questions, and despite me getting a lot of the questions correct, I knew that this revision was not simulating the exam. Therefore, I decided to group together questions from a few topics that I was least comfortable with. I typically picked six questions, with three questions from unit 3 and three questions from unit 4. I made this divide to ensure that I was actively targeting different areas of the course, and this worked particularly well for chemistry, as the topics in the two units are quite different. I still made sure that I was prioritising questions from topics that I was less comfortable with; however, I included a question or two from other areas as well. I recommend you do this too because despite being confident with the subject matter, it is always good to keep revising all areas of the course.
Scheduled practice exam:
Around this time of the year, I started doing “scheduled practice exams”. Scheduled practice exams were basically exams that I had pre-planned on doing within a time block. For example, I completed a chemistry exam every Wednesday starting from 6pm (after school). How was this practice exam different to others? Well, for my scheduled practice exams, I made sure to have a hard copy of the exam ready to go. I completed this exam under timed conditions and made sure that no one was going to interrupt me whilst I was completing the exam. Basically, I designed this exam to be replicative of the actual exam and once school finished, I lined up my time for the chemistry exam with the actual time that I would be doing it. Why this worked for me was that firstly, it forced me to sit down and do an exam every week. Secondly, I was actively making sure that I was simulating the exam and practising my exams technique. Lastly, it gave me an indication of how I would go if the actual exam was the next day. I used these exams to frame my revision for the coming week. Practice exams have content from all topics; thus, it gave me a chance to reflect on what areas I needed to focus on in the week; my levels of comfort with topics changed as I went along. I would really encourage you to have a go at this, as I found it to be one of the best aspects of my revision. It led to me being able to complete less questions but get more out of my revision and with topics being separated distinctly in chemistry, it worked even more effectively.
Incorporating question blocks and scheduled practice exams made my study a lot more effective and I hope it does the same for you! You can adapt the things I did to make it more suited to you, but generally adopting any study habit is really beneficial going into the last few weeks before your exams!
What mindset should I have for Chemistry this week?
For this week I think an opportunistic mindset would be ideal! This time of the year is when some subjects can get forgotten, thus I encourage you to take the opportunity to focus on all of your subjects and not waste years of work in this final stretch!
Weekly Tips and Tricks
That is all from me this week! I hope that you are able to manage your study throughout this week and adopt that opportunistic mindset. As always, here are three tips for you to take into the week:
1. Continue to make sure you take plenty of breaks, get outside and talk to your friends!
2021 has been crazy, so its pivotal you keep flourishing in terms of your health and wellbeing
2. Complete a traffic light analysis for your subjects
Determine what subjects need the most attention right now!
3. Review the revision you have completed so far
Reflecting is a key process in improving your skills!