Here at Julian Chemistry, we often hear stories from students who become overwhelmed and stressed over the coursework and studying requirements of A Level Chemistry. In this article we hope to provide you with tips and strategies to start your semester off strong and maintain your agility throughout the term.
While this may seem like an intuitive point to start off with, it is key to success in A Level Chemistry (as well as most other A Level subjects). Each topic covered throughout the term builds on the fundamentals that you learn in the first few weeks. This makes it vital to find answers to any questions you have at the beginning. Missing a key concept early on and not clarifying doubts will undoubtedly lead to the build up of a snowball effect which will have overwhelming negative impact in the study of Chemistry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as our chemistry tutors can help in mastering these fundamentals.
Being honest with yourself and recognizing your limits and abilities is one of the best ways to succeed in learning. Knowing where and how you study best (as well as where you study the worst) can save you hours of studying time.
Understanding how much reading you can handle in one sitting, or how many practice questions you are likely to complete without losing focus are ways that can prevent you from burning out and allow you to seek the academic help that you might need.
Knowing your abilities allows you to pace yourself in preparation for the examination and focus on key topics that you feel least comfortable on as the exam day approaches.
This requires you to be honest with yourself and motivated. If you’re able to acknowledge a bad study habit or a serious procrastination habit, congratulations – you’ve made a big step towards breaking bad habits!
Once we’ve acknowledged something that we’re doing wrong we can work twice as hard and focus on making it better. For example, one of our students here at Julian Chemistry told us that when she studied during her coursework she would often find herself wasting the first hour or two of her time on social media browsing via her phone or computer.
This distraction is just one example of something that can become a bad habit and negatively affect our performance in the course. At the advice of her chemistry tutor, she rid herself of any distracting devices during studying and was able to slowly but gradually beat that bad habit! Think about which habits negatively affect your success in the course and find ways to rid yourself of them.
Succeeding in a mastery of material, especially at A Level Chemistry, can be broken down into three parts: Before, During and After.
Prior to start of the curriculum, skim the syllabus so that you know what to expect. This can take five minutes and a constant reading of the syllabus will remind you of what you have learned and what is coming up.
Before each class, you should read and/or glance over any book chapters, slides or pre-released presentation notes that will get you primed for the days material. We believe in taking advantage of the materials in front of us and find it much easier to learn a concept if we’ve seen it before (even for a second, or the ten minutes before class begins).
Learn how you take notes best. Focus on the words and concepts that are taught and write notes that will benefit you the most when you return to study them later on.
Being clear and concise will make it easier to revisit certain topics, and make sure to make note of anything that confused you. You may even consider recording verbal lectures (with permission from your lecturer). The lecture and presentation of material is the cornerstone of the course and paying the appropriate amount of attention and note-taking during this part will set you up for success.
If you have questions, ensure they are answered during class or shortly after. This guarantees that you study the correct concepts the way your lecturer intends you to instead of trying to teach yourself the topic days later.
We suggest rereading your notes the day-of to keep concepts fresh and in your mind. Recall that each lecture will continue building on topics you learned previously which reminds us why the fundamentals are so important. Set aside an hour or two nightly to reread (or rewrite, if needed) your notes. This repetition reinforces the concepts and you may surprise yourself with what you already know! Ideas like the Spacing Effect allow your brain to familiarise itself with a subject and revisit a day or two later for further reinforcement. Read more about the utilisation of this popular technique in preparing for your chemistry tests here.
Our goal at Julian Chemistry is to help you succeed in A Level Chemistry. This article is designed as a broad guide to help A Level Chemistry students in Singapore stay focused on their coursework and prevent them from growing overwhelmed with the amount of studying required. We see our successful students follow the previously described tips and demonstrate a mastery of the core fundamentals as well as healthy study and note-taking habits. Stay tuned for more articles that delve deeper into the specifics of studying and note-taking, as well as A Level Chemistry topics.