How to revise for GCSE Chemistry and get top marks! (9/A*)

Chemistry is often understood as a “core” science, meaning it is one of the three natural sciences, along with biology and physics. A good grade in a subject like chemistry opens the path to many new opportunities. A high grade is required to study history at a collegiate or sixth form level for A levels. It is also often required to achieve a high pass to take other sciences at this level such as biology and physics.

topics past question papersHigh grades in chemistry also allow easy access to post GCSE apprenticeships based on technical skills, particularly those related to pharmacy and engineering. Further, a great GCSE in chemistry will allow students to take avenues to high paying jobs such as medicine and pharmacy, as universities check GCSEs when course placements are competitive. As such, the importance of having a good grade in chemistry cannot be understood.

But with all that comes with one important and complex question. How exactly does one revise for GCSE chemistry inorder to achieve a grade 9, or at least the highest grade one can achieve? Fear not, students! We have this wonderful and clear guide on achieving the grades you absolutely deserve in your GCSE!


What is GCSE Chemistry?

Chemistry at its most basic is the study of the properties of matter. In other words, “why do chemicals and elements behave the way they do?” is the central question of chemistry. At a GCSE level, this involves a large and varied curriculum which is dependent on the exam board you are studying with. However, the specifics of the curriculum are dependent on the exam board you are using.

Most exam boards constitute their GCSE chemistry curriculum across two or three papers. What you will actually need to know to do well in these exams can be found on the website of your exam board by finding and analysing the specification. Getting familiar with the specification, what you need to know, is the first key getting you grade 9 in GCSE chemistry.

Why do students need to do GCSE Chemistry?

The sciences are compulsory for students at GCSE level. This is usually mandated through the double science qualification. For students who wish to pursue A levels in the sciences so as to eventually get careers in them, the triple science qualification, in which the sciences are divided into the three named qualifications of chemistry, physics and biology.

As you can see, in any case, you will have to grapple with chemistry at some point in your academic career, either because doing a minimum of it was mandatory, or because you chose to do it as a subject in GCSE for further study. In either case, this guide will help you achieve your 9s for your grade.


How to get a 9 in GCSE Chemistry

To help you get through your struggles in GCSE chemistry, this short guide will really help you see key techniques and ideas that will help you get whatever grade you can achieve and strive for. Grades are that which you strive for, and whether it is a grade 9 or grade 5, you will pursue your purpose!

GCSE Chemistry past papers

The key to success is the ability to do past papers well and consistently to the standard you desire to achieve. You must ensure you know which examination board/label your school has entered you for. This is because each one arranges their questions and requirements slightly differently. Doing pas t papers is the key to success in achieving a grade 9 because of the fact that repeatedly doing these questions gets you to be familiar with what you are being asked for by the examiner.

To do questions over and over again is to know how examiners articulate their questions and get you used to writing in expected structures with the time and technical restrictions. Make sure you do enough past paper questions to get practical experience and practice for each topic, and smash that exam. Add this work to your notes in order to get great revision done.


After school chemistry revision/tuition

If you are really struggling with chemistry, this may be the thing for you to do. Extra classes led by professional, expert tutors such as ours at InTuition PYP, are a wonderful to help supplement an education. This is because it is essentially guided practice led by an expert who can direct more attention to you than a teacher who has a full class to deal with.

As such, these are very good options. However, it must also be noted that you can not only rely on your tutors. You have to work hard in order for tuition to be effective! Do not neglect this aspect of your exam preparation as these can really help the creation and practice of good notes, the revision of which is a great way to revise.

Read the Specification

As we discussed earlier, the specification is where the examination board, the people who will award (or not award) your qualification outline exactly what you need to know in order to well on their exam. The specification is where the requirements are detailed. You will know exactly what the examiners are testing you on, and as such, the specification is an extremely valuable resource in achieving a 9 in chemistry. This is because it has everything you need to know on it.

Look at the previous Examiner’s Report

The examiner’s report is a goldmine for the hard-working student attempting to achieve a 9 in chemistry. In this document, the examiners collectively discuss very explicitly what they want to see and how they want to see a question answered.

As such, this is an extremely useful document. Here you are being told how an examiner wants to see an answer. Getting these answers on point is how you will get your grade 9. Read how the examiners want to see answers and replicate it in that way. That is one of the keys to success in your chemistry GCSE.

Revise as a group!

Studying and revision is often stereotyped as a lonely, solitary experience. There is good reason for this. This is genuinely how a lot of people work best, and if it works for you then that is great! However, this does not work for everyone. For many, working by yourself can be an isolating experience and can adversely affect mental health and attainment.

As such, consider working and revising as group. This can be a fun and rewarding and efficient experience. For example, one person could make resources such as flashcards, revision notes and posters on ionic bonds whilst another makes resources on geology and chemical reactions. These resources can then be pooled together so that everyone has access to a pool of high-quality resources through distributing the workload.

In addition to this, the social aspect of group revision is extremely important as it means you are not alone and can help alleviate some of the mental health dips associated with the exam period. These revision techniques will get you revising in ways that will help you smash any exam!

Pro tips

Here is a list of general tips to help you:

  • Do at least one exam paper per day where chemistry is scheduled. Developing your exam technique is the key to a grade 9.
  • Get really familiar with the examiner report and specification. As said, these documents are the ones where it is really outlined for you to know what the examiner wants to see.
  • Regiment your studying with timetables and plans. This will ensure you know what you are doing and when you are doing it. This will avoid wastes of time and allow you to work without issue.
  • Take rest! Exam burnout is real and will negatively effectively your performance in exams. Be careful to not over strain yourself. Do what you can, breaking yourself will not help you get a grade 9.

What not to do

We have discussed what to do. Now let us discuss what will get you further away from that grade 9.

Leaving everything to the last minute

This is perhaps a sure-fire way to ensure that you do not pass, let alone achieve a grade 9. The curriculum for GCSE chemistry, and for every other science, spans three years. This programme is designed to be worked with, taught and revised over three years.

As such, leaving it to the last day will ensure severe disappointment. You will not be able to perfect exam technique in the evening before your exam. You will not familiarise yourself with three years’ worth of content in the hours before your exam. As such, it is best to not risk it.

Not working hard enough

Many students have a lazy mindset. This is the mindset that allows many of us to think we have done enough when we have done only the bare minimum. Revising once a week by flicking through a text book is not enough to get a 9.

Pretending it is will not change that. As such, you need to work hard in order to get your grade 9. This can be remedied by timetabling and managing what exactly you are going to do in a given day. In this way, you will not waste time and ensure you are getting what you need to be done.

Working too hard

On the opposite end of the spectrum is working too hard in ways that will negatively affect you and your achievement. This results in exam burn out, a mental health condition. This happens to many students when they do not do anything but work. According to the BBC, this happens when:

  • Feeling exhausted
  • feeling depleted of the motivation to perform to the standard that you were before
  • feelings of cynicism, such as feeling as though what you’re currently doing is pointless and won’t help you in the future
  • no longer enjoying a course or other activities that you once did
  • feeling isolated

When any of these things happen, you need to double check your schedule to make sure you’re not working too hard. Take time out to keep your mind health, perhaps by meeting friends or enjoying some time out with your family.

No matter what, overworking will not help you get your grade 9. Do not sacrifice your mental health.

How to revise for GCSE chemistry in one day? Is this possible?

No, this is not possible. Results are not free of action! One needs to be doing revision, more revision and even more revision to do well! As discussed earlier, this curriculum is designed for study over three years. This amounts to 1095 days. When it is put like this, you can see why trying to do 1095 days’ worth of work in 1 day is impossible.

If you truly want a grade 9, you need to work throughout these three years. Not just in one day. Instead, what you should do on the day before your exam after working hard for three years is to:

  • Lightly go over the material you have done
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat well
  • Rest!


Last minute revision tips for GCSE Chemistry

In the last few months before your exam, you should be very familiar with your content. If not, rectify the situation quickly through effective use of various revision techniques such as mind maps and flashcards and posters. The last few months should be focused on perfecting exam technique and knowing how to utilise that knowledge to get as many marks as possible.

How to Revise for GCSE Biology

Chances are if you are stressing about getting a grade 9 in chemistry, then you are thinking about how to get one in biology too. This can be achieved through the same basic techniques and methods. Everything stated in this article can be applied to biology studying to ensure you get a 9 in that too. We have a whole blog dedicated to that subject which you can check out for more information in help for revising.


Summary – Chemistry GCSE

In summary we can say that you should:

  • Use past exam papers!
  • Do tuition with tutors out of school to boost your notes!
  • Make sure you are revising in groups!
  • Read examiner reports and specifications!
  • Revision, revision, revision and…. Even more revision!
  • Avoid:
  • Underworking
  • Overworking

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to achieving a grade 9! Remember to keep calm and revise!

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