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Exam Preparation Week 6

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another week of the blog! I hope everyone has finished their SACs and has transitioned into exam revision! Speaking of which, I thought this week would be a good time to go through the best ways in which you can manage your chemistry revision. As I said earlier, most of you are probably onto your final exam revision and this can be quite overwhelming. Whilst we have looked into methods of revising in previous weeks, this week’s blog will focus on specifically balancing your chemistry study. Let’s get right into it!

How can I fit chemistry into my study?

Last week we had a look at how we can get the most out of chemistry revision and I referenced using question blocks and scheduled practice exams as ways in which you can revise chemistry. In saying this, something I found difficult was organising my time and ensuring that I was getting through enough chemistry revision each day and each week. That’s right, I am about to recommend that you do some chemistry every day!

There are various ways in which you can organise your revision. I have some friends who organise rigorous calendars with an hour by hour plan of what they are going to do in the day. If this works for you, then I would recommend you do this, as my number one rule with revision is that it should suit you! Everyone studies in a different way and it is important that you do what is best for you. In saying this, I believe that there are more effective ways to organise your revision and organise what you are going to do each day.

The problem with preplanning a daily schedule is that you are locking yourself into time blocks. Whilst this is good for your routine, what happens if you do not need to revise a lot a Methods and rather have a lot of Chemistry to get through? Or what if you are going through a certain topic and need some more time? It is much more useful for you to complete the tasks that you are doing or revise the subjects that need revising rather than simply studying to satisfy a timetable or calendar. I have mentioned this right throughout all of my blog posts: it is important to prioritise what you need to revise rather than doing general revision. So, what is a better method of organising your revision?

Prioritisation is the key to balancing your revision. If you are super confident with a certain topic or certain subject, you don’t need to be revising that as readily as other areas in which you are not as confident. Personally, I set myself five things to do every single day and tried to incorporate something from each subject that I was doing. Now, in saying this, the five things that I set myself to do were not necessarily of the same weighting. I might set myself three major tasks to do and then two tasks that would take 15 minutes. Whilst saying that preplanning is not very effective, there are benefits in reviewing content over and over and thus exposing yourself to all of your subjects every day is very beneficial. For example, you might wake up on a Tuesday morning and say that you are going to do the following five things:

  • Complete and review a chemistry practice exam

  • Do a question block for biology

  • Complete a Methods exam 1

  • Read geography notes for 15 minutes

  • Revise 10 quotes for English

As you can see, the tasks I have set are very specific, yet are not bound by time frames. The tasks are realistic given you have the whole day and by the looks of my tasks I am really comfortable with where I am at for english and geography. This isn’t the be all and end all, as my plan for the next day might involve a geography exam and 15 minutes of chemistry, but regardless this ensures that you are getting in a little bit of each subject every day without stressing yourself out. I hated feeling like I had not gotten through as much as I should have in the day, so setting a list and sticking to it was my way of avoiding such feelings. The biggest thing that I will recommend with this is to make sure that your five tasks are realistic. You want to ensure that you will be able to get through the five tasks in a productive day and from experience I can say if you finish the tasks early you will only be motivated to do even more work!

That is my advice for how you can balance your chemistry revision amongst your other subjects. Remember the key is to use whatever method works best for you!

How do I get the most out of my chemistry practice exams?

Over the last few weeks we have discussed various techniques and methods that can be utilised in your revision. In amongst these tips, I have given some suggestions on how you should be completing practice exams when it comes to revision and I thought I would quickly give a refresher on what those suggestions were.

Timed Practice Exams:

At this stage, I think that all of you should be timing the practice exams that you are doing. I have recommended this from quite early on and have recommended that you even put time restraints on any questions that you are completing. The reason for timing your practice exams is that it helps in your exam simulation. In the exam, time pressure will become a factor for everyone to consider. Doing timed exams not only gives you an indication of how much of the exam you can complete in the given time frame but also helps you work out a strategy for the exam. Through completing timed practice exams, I quickly found out that I took too long answering short answer (explain style) questions as I tended to add more detail that what was actually required. As such, I started practicing leaving the longer short answer questions to the end and this is the technique that I carried into the exam. On my actual exam there were some difficult short answer questions right at the end of the exam and so my technique actually worked pretty well! Thus, from personal experience I can say that doing timed exams is a great way to prepare for the actual exam.

Tracking Progress:

Tracking your progress is a great way of making your revision effective despite being overlooked by many. When I was completing practice exams for chemistry, I was keeping a record of how I went on each practice exam, whether or not I was able to finish it on time and the areas/topics which I struggled with during the exam. This allowed me to simply reflect over time and make sure that I was actually revising the areas that were troubling me during my revision. Furthermore, I saw that I was eventually able to complete chemistry exams within the allotted time frame. Not only was this reassuring but I was able to identify what I had changed in order to achieve this goal. As you can see, there are multiple benefits of simply tracking your progress and therefore it is something I highly recommend doing in your revision.

Variety of Questions

During revision, it is very easy to get in the habit of doing questions from one source, whether that be VCAA questions, textbook questions or anything of the like. I am sure that your teachers have given you past exams from different companies as well. Whilst it is great to expose yourself to questions from a variety of sources, at this time of the year your major source should be VCAA. At the end of the day, VCAA is producing the exam thus exposing yourself to as many VCAA questions as possible is a great way to move forward in your revision!

How do I correct my practice exams?

You are probably getting sick of hearing about me talking about the importance of correcting your practice exams but today I thought I would explain how I went about things. Put simply, after you complete an exam and take a break and clear your head. Then I would recommend sitting down and going through the exam. This “going through” process would involve you identifying the questions that you got wrong and going back and revising the necessary content.

The way I did this was by simply using blank sheets of paper. If I got a question wrong, I would see whether or not I completely understood the content behind the question. If I didn’t, then I would make a brief summary of the relative material that was covered by the question. By doing this I was effectively killing two birds with one stone, as I was not only correcting my mistakes but I was also revising portions of the content. Repeating this process over several practice exams was the major way in which I was able to understand the content!

Remember, quality over quantity! I know it is easy to have the drive to do as many practice exams as possible but correcting and going through exams that you have done is so much more important! It is all about your learnings from each exam rather than completing them for the sake of completing them, thus I would highly, highly, highly recommend going through your completed practice exams!

What mindset should I have for Chemistry this week?

For this week I think it is up to you to decide what mindset you take on. Right now, as you are reading this, allocate a mindset that you are going to stick to throughout the week and do exactly that, stick to it! Revisit some of my older blog posts if you are not sure what mindset to allocate!

Weekly Tips and Tricks

That is all from me this week! I hope that you are able to balance your study and not feel overwhelmed with all the revision left to complete! This week I only have one tip for you as I feel that I need to stress this point at this time in the semester! Enjoy the week!

Make sure that you are taking plenty of breaks and doing some activities that you enjoy in amongst your study. In this period of time it is easy to feel like you should always be studying, but having a clear mind is key to good performance! Get outside and have some fun during the week and try and enjoy your study as you go along! Good luck!

Have a question?

In the final weeks before exams Ashane will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Ashane might answer it live!

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