Tips to improve biology, chemistry and psychology grades?

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AliceV_647
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Hi everyone! I'm in year 12 and I've just done my first round of A level mocks (the next ones are in May, and our predicted grades are taken directly from those ones - eek!). I managed to get a B in biology, a C in chemistry and an A in psychology. However, my aim is to go to a Russel group uni to either do a psychology or biomed degree (can't decide which yet!). Unfortunately, all the good unis require A*AA - AAB for those degrees, and they all require an A in chemistry for biomed (hence why I'm now considering psychology... chemistry is NOT my subject!).

Has anyone got any tips on how to revise for these subjects (especially chemistry and biology) to increase my grades? I'm feeling incredibly demotivated and a bit helpless atm, so some tips (and any inspiring success stories from someone who was in my position!) would be much appreciated...

Thanks!
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yeahthatonethere
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(Original post by AliceV_647)
Hi everyone! I'm in year 12 and I've just done my first round of A level mocks (the next ones are in May, and our predicted grades are taken directly from those ones - eek!). I managed to get a B in biology, a C in chemistry and an A in psychology. However, my aim is to go to a Russel group uni to either do a psychology or biomed degree (can't decide which yet!). Unfortunately, all the good unis require A*AA - AAB for those degrees, and they all require an A in chemistry for biomed (hence why I'm now considering psychology... chemistry is NOT my subject!).

Has anyone got any tips on how to revise for these subjects (especially chemistry and biology) to increase my grades? I'm feeling incredibly demotivated and a bit helpless atm, so some tips (and any inspiring success stories from someone who was in my position!) would be much appreciated...

Thanks!
Okay dude this was like reading my life story! I'm in year 13 doing Biology, Chemistry and Psychology, looking to to Biomed/Microbiology at uni and chemistry ain't exactly my strong point. I was also getting basically your grades last year too (along with Religious Studies) and came out with AAAA at AS so don't worry!

Biology and Chemistry are very applied subjects meaning you could learn the textbook off by heart and still get a D (this happened to a lass in my chem class this year). Past papers are invaluable and while it sucks we're doing the new spec, old spec and specimen papers are good enough for practice. You need to know what they want you to say as they're very picky. You could say the right thing but if you don't say a specific term you don't get it. So yeah past papers are probably the best thing for you.

I found flash cards to be great for all of the subjects! For psychology they were awesome for getting the fine study details down. For chemistry it was good for learning the reactions, equations and key definitions and for biology in learning the content and key points. I love flashcards!

Mindmaps were never my thing but they have their place. For psychology I would mindmap the key points of a study using my notes and then hide everything, get a blank piece and recreate it from memory. I would then compare the two and see what I was missing or needed to revise.

Diagrams and little rhymes I found to be great for organic chemistry, especially the mechanisms. To tell apart the different mechanisms have a little tune in your head of each step. I did this and sung it under my breath in the exam. Looked like an idiot but it worked apparently!

Try and keep notes concise. Split your notes into topics (e.g. for Biology I had Biological molecules, cells, transport across membranes, DNA, etc) and give yourself 1 sheet of A4 to make visual, concise notes on that topic, keeping only the key points. If you go over 1 sheet? Start over! Sounds mean but you need to be able to remove the waffle as there is a lot of content!

Hope I've helped and anymore questions, just ask!
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tripplea
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Hi there,

I'm in second year of A-levels now and was in near enough the exact same position as you last year. I don't really feel qualified enough to give you tips but hope to inspire you in some way.

I also want to study psychology at uni. I got ABC in AS June exams last year (psychology, maths and biology respectively - biology was 2 marks off the B). This year I'm predicted A*AA and achieved A*A*E in the Jan mocks (psychology, biology and maths respectively - don't ask about maths, just flopped:laugh: but always do in assessments, content hasn't sunken in yet!)

I've received offers from all 5 of the universities I've applied to - including Cambridge, UCL and Kings College. My offers range from (A*AA-AAB)

All I can say with Biology is to understand each topic carefully then do past paper questions from the old spec on them. I didn't do any of this in first year hence the C. The content is largely the same. If you're with OCR, buy the oxford book rather than the pearson one.

Hope this inspires you in some way. All is not lost just keep practising a little everyday, make sure you understand the concepts and answer past exam questions frequently.
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AliceV_647
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(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Okay dude this was like reading my life story! I'm in year 13 doing Biology, Chemistry and Psychology, looking to to Biomed/Microbiology at uni and chemistry ain't exactly my strong point. I was also getting basically your grades last year too (along with Religious Studies) and came out with AAAA at AS so don't worry!

Biology and Chemistry are very applied subjects meaning you could learn the textbook off by heart and still get a D (this happened to a lass in my chem class this year). Past papers are invaluable and while it sucks we're doing the new spec, old spec and specimen papers are good enough for practice. You need to know what they want you to say as they're very picky. You could say the right thing but if you don't say a specific term you don't get it. So yeah past papers are probably the best thing for you.

I found flash cards to be great for all of the subjects! For psychology they were awesome for getting the fine study details down. For chemistry it was good for learning the reactions, equations and key definitions and for biology in learning the content and key points. I love flashcards!

Mindmaps were never my thing but they have their place. For psychology I would mindmap the key points of a study using my notes and then hide everything, get a blank piece and recreate it from memory. I would then compare the two and see what I was missing or needed to revise.

Diagrams and little rhymes I found to be great for organic chemistry, especially the mechanisms. To tell apart the different mechanisms have a little tune in your head of each step. I did this and sung it under my breath in the exam. Looked like an idiot but it worked apparently!

Try and keep notes concise. Split your notes into topics (e.g. for Biology I had Biological molecules, cells, transport across membranes, DNA, etc) and give yourself 1 sheet of A4 to make visual, concise notes on that topic, keeping only the key points. If you go over 1 sheet? Start over! Sounds mean but you need to be able to remove the waffle as there is a lot of content!

Hope I've helped and anymore questions, just ask!
Thank you so much - that's really really helpful!! (It's also inspiring to hear that you achieved AAAA at AS .) Being too reliant on textbooks and not doing enough past papers might be where I'm going wrong - the only subject I really did practice papers for was biology. I really like the mechanism songs idea - I made some songs for the flame tests etc in GCSE chemistry and it really worked, but I'd forgotten about it until you mentioned it! I also hadn't thought about using songs for mechanisms, and was just beginning to stress about how on earth I was going to remember all of them - so that was extremely good and well timed advice!

I'll definitely also try using more flashcards - I've bought a load of them but keep forgetting to sit down and make them. Also, the A4 page of notes sounds really good!

You've definitely helped and inspired me! Thank you again for all your tips and suggestions. I hope your A levels go well!
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AliceV_647
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(Original post by tripplea)
Hi there,

I'm in second year of A-levels now and was in near enough the exact same position as you last year. I don't really feel qualified enough to give you tips but hope to inspire you in some way.

I also want to study psychology at uni. I got ABC in AS June exams last year (psychology, maths and biology respectively - biology was 2 marks off the B). This year I'm predicted A*AA and achieved A*A*E in Jan the mocks (psychology, biology and maths respectively - don't ask about maths, just flopped:laugh: but always do in assessments, content hasn't sunken in yet!)

I've received offers from all 5 of the universities I've applied to - including Cambridge, UCL and Kings College. My offers range from (A*AA-AAB)

All I can say with Biology is to understand each topic carefully then do past paper questions from the old spec on them. I didn't do any of this in first year hence the C. The content is largely the same. If you're with OCR, buy the oxford book rather than the pearson one.

Hope this inspires you in some way. All is not lost just keep practising a little everyday, make sure you understand the concepts and answer past exam questions frequently.
That's so inspiring to hear - well done on getting all your offers (especially Cambridge - wow!:zomg:)! Thank you for your advice, and for the motivation that you've given me!
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tripplea
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(Original post by AliceV_647)
That's so inspiring to hear - well done on getting all your offers (especially Cambridge - wow!:zomg:)! Thank you for your advice, and for the motivation that you've given me!
Thank you! and you’re welcome - I hope you do better than I did in first year. It is hard work but it does pay off.
Good luck with your A-levels. If you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to answer them the best I can.
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