How to get an A* in Chemistry / Biology A Level? Watch

JustTrynaGetBy
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If you did your Chemistry or Biology A Level under the new AQA Specification and you got an A or an A*;
What did you do to revise?
What did you spend the most time memorising etc?
Did you have a checklist of topics you needed to cover?
When did you start revising?
How many hours a day did you spend revising?
What type of techniques did you use to aid memory or note taking?
Esp. in chemistry, did you spend time memorising certain reactions or mechanisms or calculations?

Thanks, if you could respond it would help so many of us greatly
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TSR Jessica
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Sorry you've not had any responses about this. Are you sure you've posted in the right place? Here's a link to our subject forum which should help get you more responses if you post there.
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yeahthatonethere
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Hi! I got an A* in AQA new spec biology and an A in AQA new spec chemistry (even though this isn't what you asked for I'll still give some tips for chemistry that can hopefully help!)

What did you do to revise?
My main two methods were past papers (even old spec) and flashcards for both subjects.
Past papers are absolutely key to getting a good grade, you learn how they want you to answer questions, you get used to how specific they need you to be and they're just generally a great way to test your knowledge and application. Use old spec papers too, they're not that different (cut out the questions you don't cover anymore) and it gives you a lot more material to work with.

Flash cards were good for learning all the facts, processes and equations. I had every topic in all my subjects split into flashcards where I put questions on one side (e.g. What is DNA made of?) and then on the flip side I had answers. You revise while making them and they're a very practical way to constantly test yourself. Some people would instead put past paper questions on one side and the markscheme on the other but this didn't work for me.

There were a few other bits and pieces I did too such as making a mind map of a topic then trying to recreate it from memory. I'd then compare them and revise anything I missed.

What did you spend the most time memorising etc?
I mean you need to know basically everything in the textbooks/specification so just keep going with things like flashcards to keep this up. The main things I spent the most time memorising though was equations and transition metals for chemistry, there's not really any other way to remember them other than rote memorisation.

Be careful though, the exams are not just memorisation. Biology has a really big emphasis on application and data handling and the bast way to practice these aspects are past papers. Knowing the stuff is great but you need to be able to apply it to odd scenarios. Maths is also a huge part of chemistry so make sure you practice that (again, mainly past papers).

Did you have a checklist of topics you needed to cover?
Yep, go on the AQA website and download the specifications for the courses. It breaks down each subject into exactly what you need to know and works as a great checklist (plus it's official).

When did you start revising?
Okay just to note, I still did AS levels so I had proper exam periods at the end of year 1 and 2 which kind of forced us to cram during exam period of both years. But I basically revised a little form the start (mainly making flashcards, rewriting notes) but started focussing more a few moths in, starting to do past papers and devoting more time to revision. This increased a lot more about a month before my exams (this was the pattern I followed for both years, obviously with more to revise in year 2 cause you still have to know year 1 stuff).

How many hours a day did you spend revising?
Ii never know how to answer this, sorry! However much you feel you need to do is my best advice. Make a to-do list the night before and do it (but be realistic with what you want yourself to do), just please don't burn yourself out.

What type of techniques did you use to aid memory or note taking?
Flashcards and the mindmap technique I mentioned above

Esp. in chemistry, did you spend time memorising certain reactions or mechanisms or calculations?
YES! Please please don't neglect mechanisms, equations, and calculations. Mechanisms can be quite big questions in paper two, calculations are huge in all three papers and reactions are generally play a part in all papers too. Practice as many maths questions as you can (they can ask many odd ones). Also please revise and know your practicals. Everyone neglects this part and it really screws people over in paper 3. In my exams I had to draw diagrams of how to do an experiment, describe for 6 marks how to do one and plenty more based on practicals that I've forgotten about.

Hope I've helped and anymore questions, just ask!
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JustTrynaGetBy
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Thanks so much, I'm going to try to implement all of this. There's just so much content and so little time now. Anyway, thanks!
(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Hi! I got an A* in AQA new spec biology and an A in AQA new spec chemistry (even though this isn't what you asked for I'll still give some tips for chemistry that can hopefully help!)

What did you do to revise?
My main two methods were past papers (even old spec) and flashcards for both subjects.
Past papers are absolutely key to getting a good grade, you learn how they want you to answer questions, you get used to how specific they need you to be and they're just generally a great way to test your knowledge and application. Use old spec papers too, they're not that different (cut out the questions you don't cover anymore) and it gives you a lot more material to work with.

Flash cards were good for learning all the facts, processes and equations. I had every topic in all my subjects split into flashcards where I put questions on one side (e.g. What is DNA made of?) and then on the flip side I had answers. You revise while making them and they're a very practical way to constantly test yourself. Some people would instead put past paper questions on one side and the markscheme on the other but this didn't work for me.

There were a few other bits and pieces I did too such as making a mind map of a topic then trying to recreate it from memory. I'd then compare them and revise anything I missed.

What did you spend the most time memorising etc?
I mean you need to know basically everything in the textbooks/specification so just keep going with things like flashcards to keep this up. The main things I spent the most time memorising though was equations and transition metals for chemistry, there's not really any other way to remember them other than rote memorisation.

Be careful though, the exams are not just memorisation. Biology has a really big emphasis on application and data handling and the bast way to practice these aspects are past papers. Knowing the stuff is great but you need to be able to apply it to odd scenarios. Maths is also a huge part of chemistry so make sure you practice that (again, mainly past papers).

Did you have a checklist of topics you needed to cover?
Yep, go on the AQA website and download the specifications for the courses. It breaks down each subject into exactly what you need to know and works as a great checklist (plus it's official).

When did you start revising?
Okay just to note, I still did AS levels so I had proper exam periods at the end of year 1 and 2 which kind of forced us to cram during exam period of both years. But I basically revised a little form the start (mainly making flashcards, rewriting notes) but started focussing more a few moths in, starting to do past papers and devoting more time to revision. This increased a lot more about a month before my exams (this was the pattern I followed for both years, obviously with more to revise in year 2 cause you still have to know year 1 stuff).

How many hours a day did you spend revising?
Ii never know how to answer this, sorry! However much you feel you need to do is my best advice. Make a to-do list the night before and do it (but be realistic with what you want yourself to do), just please don't burn yourself out.

What type of techniques did you use to aid memory or note taking?
Flashcards and the mindmap technique I mentioned above

Esp. in chemistry, did you spend time memorising certain reactions or mechanisms or calculations?
YES! Please please don't neglect mechanisms, equations, and calculations. Mechanisms can be quite big questions in paper two, calculations are huge in all three papers and reactions are generally play a part in all papers too. Practice as many maths questions as you can (they can ask many odd ones). Also please revise and know your practicals. Everyone neglects this part and it really screws people over in paper 3. In my exams I had to draw diagrams of how to do an experiment, describe for 6 marks how to do one and plenty more based on practicals that I've forgotten about.

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