A-level Chemistry exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

Chemistry concept image

Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on A-level Chemistry

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on A-level Chemistry, direct from the people who make the exams.

AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

Use the appropriate language

High-scoring answers generally use appropriate scientific terminology in the right context. Lower scoring answers tend to be vague and/or don’t use the appropriate scientific language.

Quality not quantity

Examiners deliberately count the numbers of answer lines they provide for each question to make sure there’s more than enough space. You should only need extra pages if you need to cross out incorrect work.

Be consistent

Be aware that answers that contain contradictions, even on additional pages, can lose you marks. Make sure you cross out anything that you don’t want to be marked, particularly if you’re using an additional page.

Read the question

Read the question carefully and respond specifically to the command word(s) and the context given in each question. Try to make sure you’re answering the question being asked, rather than the question you’d like to be asked.

Apply your knowledge

Be prepared to apply your knowledge of practical work to new contexts. The practical questions will often ask you to apply the skills you’ve learnt during the 12 required practical activities to situations you won’t necessarily have come across before - as opposed to reciting the practical you did in class.

Practise makes perfect

Practise the maths skills listed at the end of the specification – make sure you understand them all.

Show all your working

Show all your working and make sure your intermediate numerical values are clearly set out. Examiners can’t award credit for intermediate steps that aren’t visible. In multi-step calculations, a consistent flow down the answer space is ideal – and, when necessary, divide the space vertically. Answers that are difficult to interpret or unclear can lead to examiners being unable to award credit. 

Answer all aspects of the question

Before tackling an extended response question worth 6 or 8 marks, you should take care to read the question thoroughly - perhaps twice - in order to make sure you answer all parts of the question.

Take your time

Don’t rush. You can avoid common errors if you take a little more time to understand the nature of data given in a question before attempting an answer.

Write legibly

Take care with your handwriting in exams. It’s tough to keep handwriting clear after two hours of answering questions, but examiners cannot award marks to an answer if they cannot read it. Examiners reported that unclear state symbols were a particular issue last summer.

Come back to tough questions at the end

Keep going. If you don’t understand the question, move on to the next one and come back to it later. There are multiple choice questions at the end of papers and you’ll find some harder than others – so, if you’re running out of time, make sure you write an answer down for every multiple choice question.

More A-level Chemistry exam help on TSR

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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!