Study Help Guidelines

Welcome to the Study Help forums, the area dedicated to helping members to find and give help with academic work, from KS3 to degree level! There are sections for every subject, so have a good look round before you post. Please also have take the time to read these guidelines to help you to get the most out of using TSR.


The detailed rules are explained later on this page, but for convenience these can be summarised as follows:

  • Follow the usual site rules. These are explained here.
  • Post in the correct forum. Use the subject forums for any threads that relate to specific subjects, and the qualifications forums for more general questions.
  • When asking questions, give as much relevant detail as possible in thread titles and in posts, including what progress you have made so far.
  • Do not post full solutions unless absolutely necessary. Instead, try to guide the person asking towards working out the answer themself.
  • Familiarise yourself with and follow the restrictions on exam discussion (see here). Do not post any details of exams (including practical exams) that have not yet been sat by all candidates.
  • Respect copyright laws when asking for any study resources, including past papers. Do not reproduce copyrighted material without consent of the creator.
  • Do not discuss or promote illegal 'study-enhancing' drugs.

Posting and Forum Structure

The main Secondary School, Sixth Form and FE College forum is for threads ranging from chosing and applying to sixth forms or colleges to more general school life. If threads don't come under any of the following categories than post it within the main forum. You can also ask about choosing your subjects in the following sub-forums:

For specific subject advice and academic help you should post in the Academic Help forums. There are:

Each of these forums then has sub-forums for the most common individual subjects.

Finally, we have the Revision and Study Tips forum. This is the place for you to discuss all things revision in the run up to exams, as well as sharing tips and advice to help with your studies. Please use the relevant dedicated subject forum for discussion on specific qualifications and subjects.

In a forum concerned with different exam boards and a plethora of subjects and syllabuses, it is very simple for details to become confused. To avoid this, always be specific and clear in thread titles: it is recommended that you always state, where appropriate, the exam board, assessment level, and full subject name when doing so.

General Site Rules

In addition to the specific rules and guidelines here, please remember that the main site rules apply to this forum just as they do across the rest of TSR. Spamming, trolling and offensiveness (among other things) are unproductive and will be dealt with accordingly by the moderation team. Please remember to write out posts in full English, as text speak is not allowed here.

The moderation team will take action against any rule-breaking posts as we become aware of these, but please remember that it's not possible for us to review everything that's posted on the site. If you come across any rule-breaking content that does not appear to have been dealt with this is likely to be because the team aren't yet aware of this. You can help the moderation team to deal with any rule-breaking by using the post report button reportbutton.jpg that appears at the top-right hand corner of the post in question. If you have any questions for the moderation team or would like to discuss a warning, please review the threads in the Moderation Queries forum and then post a thread in the relevant sub-forum there.

For the detailed site rules please see the full terms, conditions and rules page. A high-level summary of the rules is also available for convenience here.

Please note that the following types of post are not appropriate on the site:

  • Posts which are not relevant to the discussion.
  • Posts which are not a piece of constructive advice or discussion.
  • Posts which encourage or are part of a off topic conversation.
  • Posts which are comprised of a single smiley or image.
  • Posts which make jokes about or try to belittle the questions being mentioned in the thread.
  • Posts which are aimed at provoking an argument.
  • Posts which aim to be offensive to other members.

Getting Effective Responses

Before posting it is well worth checking to see if someone has already asked your question before (or a similar one)! To do this click on "Search This Forum" in the top right of the forum. But please don't bump old threads (over 3 months old) unless it's for a very good reason.

If you can't find a similar question then post a new question thread using the "Create New Thread" button in the top left of the forum.

Title the thread appropriately to the topic, stating where appropriate which exam board and what level (e.g., AS, A2, degree) the question is for. Where possible show that you've attempted the question; people are not going to just post an answer for you - they are going to try to help you to work the answer out. Don't post up a large list of questions, which you haven't attempted in some way.

When you do post, post the whole question instead of just a few bits from it; it may not be solvable or may be much harder without some of the details - help us to help you! Also, when posting a question be as specific as possible with what exactly it is you want help, just naming a book/subject area/essay title and asking for help on something that vague isn't likely to get you many, if any, responses and when posting include any progress you already have towards it. What we would not like you to do when posting is to post in a manner that suggests you want other people to do your work for you, which is also likely to lead to you not getting the responses you would like.


For posting up equations we have a LaTeX plug-in that allows for easier reading. There are also subscript and superscript functions:

  • x[sup]2[/sup] becomes x2
  • C[sub]5[/sub]H[sub]10[/sub] becomes C5H10

Answering Questions

Wherever possible try to guide the asker to the answer rather than just giving the answer straight off! Not much is learned by doing this and the asker may not understand why the answer is what it is.

This Socratic Method of learning - where people ask a question and learn the answer to it by directed prodding and questioning - leads to the best results and understanding.

Not all types of question lends itself to this type of technique but where possible it should be employed and full solutions (especially to calculations) should only be posted as a last resort or a significant misunderstanding has developed. It is at the moderators' discretion to remove, edit or even warn posts that flout this rule, particularly if the post occurs after someone has tried to guide them through the answer.

Some helpers may find themselves winning the Study Help Member of the Month award for good contributions to these forums! To nominate other members for this award, please use the nominations form here

Past Papers

Working through past exam papers can be a very useful revision technique and you may use TSR to request help from other members in finding these. Before doing so, check on the exam boards' websites as some publish this material free of charge for candidates and teachers in PDF format. If you cannot locate the paper you would like on the websites or by using the search function on TSR, then post your request in the designated threads at the top of the relevant sub-forum of the Secondary School, Sixth Form and FE College forum (or for A-Level requests, please post in the threads in the dedicated AS and A-Level Past Papers, Materials and Resources forum). All separate threads will be merged into these existing threads where relevant.

When requesting or discussing past papers and similar material, or responding to requests, please ensure that you respect copyright laws. Do not upload material that has clearly not been distributed for this use by the exam boards to TSR. Links to externally-hosted papers are, in general, permitted. However, if we receive any legitimate requests from exam boards for past papers and/or links to be removed we will abide by these requests and remove the material.

Exam Discussion Rules

Written Exams

Public exams set by a number of exam boards, including Edexcel International and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) are taken around the world, in different timezones and at different times. We would also highlight that this includes the Mathematics Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP) exams. To discourage malpractice and to make the exams as fair as possible, TSR operates a strict policy to remove and/or close any threads/posts discussing these exams until 12 hours (Edexcel) or 24 hours (STEP and IB) have passed from the end of the UK exam sitting. This means that:

  • For Edexcel exams, morning exams may not be discussed until 12 midnight and afternoon exams until 4.30am (UK time).
  • For STEP and IB exams, morning exams may not be discussed until 1.00pm (the following day) and afternoon exams until 6.00pm (the following day) (UK time).

"Discussion" refers to any comment on the exam that is in progress, ranging from "it went well" to "question 2 on human health and disease was difficult". Anyone found to be breaking this rule on TSR, whether in forum posts, via private messaging or through any other means, will receive a serious warning and risks being banned from the site. We would ask members to help the moderation team in maintaining these rules, by reporting any instances of early discussion that you come across, using the post report button or by posting a thread in Ask A Moderator.

Please see the Exam Discussion Rules page for more detailed information.

Practical Exams

Practical exams in science subjects are taken by different groups of students across an extended period of time. This means that some people will have finished an exam that hasn't even been started by others. Along similar lines to the restrictions for written exams discussed above, we'll close and/or remove any threads requesting/disclosing specific details of practical exams.

However, we realise that you may want to talk about the exams with others once you've completed them, and as such it's acceptable to discuss the practicals on a general level. For example, asking others about the difficulty of the exams as a whole should be fine in most cases. It's also acceptable to ask for general advice prior to sitting an exam, such as on how to draw graphs, or what words mean within questions.

Again, these rules apply to private messages as well as to posts on the public forums. Please see the Exam Discussion Rules page for more detailed information.

Study-Enhancing Drugs Information

Most of us spend hours trying to work out the most effective ways or revising for those all-important exams. For this some people like to go to extremes and seek support from “study-enhancing drugs”. However, the majority of the study-enhancing drugs which are most commonly used are illegal for use within the UK and many other countries.


The most common study drugs used by the current population are modafinil (Provigil), methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dexamphetamine sulphate (Dexedrine). All of these are either classified as POM (prescription only medicine) or Schedule II CD (controlled drug); the same classification as cocaine, and should not be supplied or used without a valid prescription from a registered General Practitioner or specialist.

  • Prescription Only Medicines (POMs) - the law: It is illegal to supply or be sold medication under this classification to anyone without a valid prescription from a registered Practitioner (doctor, dentist, specialist etc)
  • Controlled Drug Medicines (Schedules II & III) - the law: It is illegal to be in possession, use or supply medication under these classifications without a valid prescription from a registered Practitioner (doctor, dentist, specialist etc)

These drugs are all collectively licensed for use only in the treatment and control of conditions such as narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The following are some of the common side effects for each drug as described in the British National Formulary (BNF) 61; March 2011:

  • Modafinil: widening of blood vessels, palpitations (abnormality of heartbeat), anxiety, sleep disturbances, high/low blood pressure, constipation, nausea, diarrhoea, toxic epidermal necrolysis (the upper layer of skin comes away from the lower layer).
  • Methylphenidate: Extreme weight loss, palpitations, insomnia, depression (including suicidal thoughts), abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea.
  • Dexamphetamine Sulphate: Insomnia, vomiting, nausea, night terrors, anxiety, depression, increased blood pressure, psychosis (hallucinations and delusonal beliefs).

Aside from the dangers of using POM drugs, buying medications without being issued a prescription is very risky in its own right. Records of quality control and ingredients are rarely given, the place where they are made are rarely licenced to produce the medications and studies have shown that medications obtained without a prescription can contain many dangerous chemicals such as rat poison. These are not scare tactics; this is all true.

Using medications which have not been prescribed to you is very dangerous. It could contain ingredients that you are allergic to (which can be life threatening in some cases), may interact with other medications that you are taking, may interact with other conditions (both known or underlying) which you may have and there is no certainty of the dosage so it is very easy to take an overdose which can be fatal.

Moderation Policy

Due to increasing discussion within forums of study-enhancing drugs, and how dangerous this discussion can be, the moderation team have decided that for everyone’s best interests and safety that discussion of any study-enhancement drugs with a medical classification of POM and above is forbidden.

Any discussion found on forums will be removed and users involved will receive a yellow card for promoting illegal activity. This is in line with TSR's general policy for the promotion or encouragement of illegal activity.

We are aware that there are some study-enhancing supplements available which are not classified as POM or above. These discussions are allowed but caution should be taken that it does not encourage discussion on the type of drugs mentioned above. If you are unsure of the classification of the study-enhancement drug, please post in Ask a Moderator before posting on main forums so that we can verify the classification. Products containing caffiene are included in the supplements classification.

There are safe supplements available, such as Gingko Biloba and L-Carnitine. However if you take prescribed medications, please consult your GP before starting to take any new supplement

We kindly ask you to be vigilant towards discussion of this nature and if you see any, please report it using the report icon reportbutton.jpg at the top right hand corner of the post. There are only a few moderators and thousands of users so occasionally the odd post or discussion may be missed. Thank you.