To achieve A1 or A is the end goal for students who are taking Chemistry for their O or A levels respectively. There has been a misconception going around that getting A1s or As are reserved only for the most intelligent students, or you have to put in an enormous amount of time and effort to ever reach that milestone if you do not have the flair for Chemistry. However, it is what is is, just a misconception.
Here are just a couple of suggestions which will increase the probability of you obtaining the prized A grade for Chemistry.
( 1 ) Ensure that you are being consistent in Chemistry practice questions
It is more important to be consistent in practising Chemistry problems, either in the form of your school assignment or through assessments books or past year papers, rather than to spend sleepless nights doing last minute cramming when it is close to the exams. Though the hours put in may be similar, but the end results are worlds apart. This is because it takes time for your mind to assimilate the knowledge and bite-sized pieces of information are more easily retained and processed compared to last ditch attempts to overload your mind.
This will mean that you will have to set up a schedule where you put aside enough time to go through the different topics being covered in school weekly, so that you do not end up doing it all at once. Again, time management and following through with the plan are important aspects that will allow you to see progressive improvements.
( 2 ) Create your own Chemistry study notes or summary sheet
Formulating your personal study notes or summary sheet for every topic that is introduced in school is a good way of embarking on your Chemistry revision journey. Some ideas to start off with will be to include definitions, formulae and some simple examples from textbook during the writing of the notes. On one hand, you are familiarizing yourself with the newer topics, and on the other hand, you will also find out which topics pose a challenge in terms of understanding, which allows you to narrows down your areas of weaknesses.
This will help either your school teachers or Chemistry tutors to come in and better facilitate your learning of Chemistry in general. These study notes or summary sheets will also come in handy during your revision for your Chemistry exam eventually.
( 3 ) Seek assistance or contemplate getting a Chemistry tutor
Once you have determined which particular topics that you constantly face problems in, do not feel shy to seek assistance by either voicing out your questions in class or make an appointment with your teacher in private to have your doubts clarified. Alternatively, you can ask an older sibling or your peers to see if they are able to give some guidance to you. However, do take note that this is a double-edged sword as there is a chance that you may be given the wrong answer or direction as your friends may not know better as well.
Another workaround is to sign yourself up for Chemistry tuition, either in groups or on a 1-1 basis. Private and group tuition have their own perks, therefore, you may want to have a discussion with your parents in order to make an informed choice about the two. Having an experienced and well qualified Chemistry tutor to provide the appropriate study materials for your current level of knowledge, will help you to improve your understanding of Chemistry in a progressive manner that will get you closer to that A grade in your national exams.
( 4 ) Understand the Chemistry syllabus and the exam paper format
This is often overlooked by students but it is actually helpful for you to understand what will be tested in your exams. This will ensure that you do not study excessively on Chemistry and neglect your other subjects, which may end up creating unnecessary stress on yourself and affect your performance in the actual exams. Of course, at the end of the day, all the topics in Chemistry will be tested in the national exams but at least this is stretched over 2 years and with proper planning and armed with the understanding of the syllabus, you can make your studying effective and productive.
Getting accustomed to the exam paper format is also crucial in terms of time management of the different sections of the exam papers itself. Knowing the format beforehand allows you to have a mental plan on how much time you should allocate appropriately for the individual sections and the options that you have if you happen to spend too much time or struggle with answering certain questions. Knowing the mark allocation can also help you to strategise your approach towards handling the different sections due to the time constraint of the exams.
An example will be 40 marks for paper 1 of a Chemistry O level exam, consisting of 40 MCQ questions and a time limit of 1 hour. That averages to 1.5 minutes per question and that means you will not have time to dwell on a single question as that means less time for other questions. The correct approach will be to skip questions that you face difficulties and come back later once you have attempted all the questions so that you have a peace of mind that you have attempted the entire paper and maximise your marks in the event that you still cannot answer those selected questions.
( 5 ) Inculcating the habit of reviewing your completed work while practising Chemistry questions
By building the habit of reviewing your finished work, whether it is school homework or tuition assignments, you will be able to weed out those annoying careless mistakes made both in your normal work or during an actual Chemistry exam. I would even go so far as to say that this is one of the most essential tip out of the entire list, since careless mistakes are not made due to your lack of understanding, but rather your negligence or oversight, and this can be easily rectified to save yourself those precious marks that may decide whether you get an A grade or not.
( 6 ) Get enough rest the night before the final Chemistry exam
Finally, being in tip-top condition and right state of mind for the exam are also important. Hence, always ensure that you have enough rest time and try to sleep early before your exams so that you can tackle the exam with a fresh mind and a well-rested body.