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A Level Exam Tips: Chemistry

4 Min Read
October 27, 2022

A Level examinations are approaching quickly. To the high school students who take them, it's key that one passes their exams well, especially if they intend to study abroad. While A Level Chemistry can seem challenging, especially with its Papers 4 and 5, one can still earn high grades with proper reviewing and practice. Here are some suggestions to help you on your way:

  1. A-Level Chemistry, as a whole, assumes that you would have elementary knowledge of the topics learned in its syllabus. If you do not fully understand several of these concepts, e.g. stoichiometry, you should review them far before the examinations start. You will have to practice answering questions, especially structured questions, using these ideas.
  2. Practice past papers. While 'official' past papers could only be accessed by teachers, there are multiple websites available online where you can freely download them. Treat the papers as exercises first and foremost; then if you feel confident enough, you should do them within an examination setting. Papers 2 and 4 have recurring question topics over the years that one could expect to appear.
  3. Learn what the examiners will expect from your answers, and try to answer accordingly. In addition, you could also download Examiner Reports for extra insights into how well the previous batch performed, the questions they generally found difficult, and remarks and suggestions made by examiners for future candidates.
  4. Use the resources available to you! The internet is teeming with websites if you ever have difficulties regarding chemistry; sites such as Chemguide, Khan Academy or S-Cool, or even The Student Room are often able to explain the questions you might have about specific chemistry topics. Do not be afraid to ask your teachers and classmates for help as well. Reaching out may even help you to succeed even further in your exams.
  5. Do not feel disheartened if you do not get good results instantly after your first review or practice session. Passing A Level Chemistry with flying colors requires your time, energy and determination. A Level Chemistry is very much different from its predecessor; have faith, practice regularly and you will surely do better with time.


Some preparation and exam tips to take note of are:

  • Organic Chemistry, if learned correctly, will net you a fair amount of marks. The topic appears most prominently in Papers 2 and 4, where they can take up from a quarter to half of the paper. Rote memorization is not recommended for organic chemistry, due to the abundance of organic compounds that may appear in questions. Complicated compounds such as ibuprofen, serotonin, and many more are more likely to appear in organic synthesis questions than methanol or ethanoic acid. Furthermore, these compounds would have more than one functional group, and many reagents will react with more than one functional group (LiAlH4 in dry ether, for example, is a powerful reducing agent and is able to reduce not only carbonyl compounds, but also amides, esters, nitriles, and carboxylic acids). Consequently, understanding mechanisms and reactions will come in handy far more than mere memorizing.
  • While Paper 1 is multiple choice based, read each and every question and its options carefully. Some questions are worded vaguely to 'trick' less careful candidates, and often options are so similar that one would miss the difference. Check your answers after you've finished the paper if you still have time to do so.
  • Paper 5 may only possess 30 marks, but it is one of the hardest papers a candidate must write. As a result, marks can be easily lost. Laboratory work is recommended for this paper, as candidates are tested on their practical knowledge and their ability to assemble and present a proper lab report. If that opportunity is not available, do as many papers as you can and always ask your teacher for feedback whenever possible.
  • Paper 3 is practical-based, and if you have had proper training, it is also another easy way to gain marks to make up for any losses in other papers. Do laboratory work as often as you can, and it does not hurt for you to ask for classmates' help during these practice sessions.
  • In doing calculations, showing your working is crucial. You can lose marks for inaccuracies, but method marks (marked by M in marking schemes) are gained based on your working alone.

Good luck with your revising!