The Student Room Group

A level tips for maths (edexcel), chemistry and biology (ocr) from a 3A* student

Just thought I’d post this in case it can help anyone. These are just things that worked for me but might be useful for others :smile:

Biology
Year 1:
- Honestly it’s really important to know all the content of module 2, this is definitely knowledge you need to stay on top with as there’s so much application to other topics throughout the course
- Learning wise, I went ahead before most of my lessons to cover the content and make my own notes so I knew what I didn’t understand so I could get help and then the lesson turned into a revision session as I already covered the content myself - this also helps with long-term memory I found
- Definitely do a lot of exam practice, I really think this is what set me ahead of the field so I didn’t have to do too much in Year 2, physics and maths tutor is really good. In about February time I did all the module 2 question banks which really taught me exam practice which is so vital for biology, but one of the main misconceptions is that the content is separate to the exam technique (there are some very harsh mark schemes that make you question everything haha!). What I only really learnt in Year 2 was to just imagine you are explaining something to someone that doesn’t literally know anything about it! Then you just start chucking random ideas and SYNOPTIC links (very very important to recognise this but don’t expect to be able to link everything instantly I found it just comes with time and practice, making sure you recall all the content so you are familiar)
- I made flash cards with the exam questions I got wrong so I kept repeating these until I got this right (would not recommend doing this for year 2 but is very helpful for year 1)
- Make mnemonics for topics where you there are many small details / processes: for instance I had BRCTS which covered the functions of a membrane, To Be Right HIT BRAMP which covered all the diseases. Honestly you can never have too many
- I dont know if I already said this, but recall is your best friend for learning new content and covering old. You could literally sit there with a blank sheet of paper and blurt everything and anything you know about a topic using the textbook headings and then going through the textbook after and adding in a different colour anything you forgot, then repeat and repeat!!
- Textbook I used = CGP, much nicer and not overkill unlike the Oxford book
Year 2:
- I bought an iPad for this year and realised that passive note taking was not effective at all and did not help with my long term memory, so in classes I would make more summary notes (I didn’t have all the time to go ahead for all the lessons, which I definitely wish I did)
- definitely some harder modules (4,6), but again once you know the content it’s just maintaining that, making mnemonics and doing some exam practice. Definitely did a little less exam practice in year 2 than year 1 I feel, but then again I did way more past papers so perhaps it balances out
- I made quizlet cards for pretty much all modules / tricky sections which really helped - another form of recall. This is probably what helped me get an A* in the actual thing as on the quizlet cards I made up my own questions, making my own links which helped me think more synoptically
- Textbooks: CGP and Kerboodle (Oxford). I used kerboodle closer to the real thing to look for any tiny details that they could ask, their summary questions at the end of each mini topic are also really good - some have definitely made an appearance in previous exams. There’s a couple extra details kerboodle covers that CGP doesn’t, for instance root pressure in the plant transport topic, so I definitely would make sure I was aware of little details like that just so you have more knowledge to chuck at the question haha
- through both years, the specification is really useful, I used it almost every lesson (partly because my teachers always went off topic!) but it really helps to use it as some parts of the spec are literal answers to some questions
That’s pretty much everything I can think of for now, for reference from year 1 September to December I was an A, sometimes a B/A*. After Christmas I never really dropped below an A*. In year 2, I was consistently an A/A* or high A and very close to the A* in mini end of topic tests. Across both years where we did proper practice exams in halls I was an A* in all of them. What made me consistently an A* in the end was just giving more time to the subject

Chemistry
- for reference, I never dropped below an A* in this subject and my average was around 95%
- I never really used textbooks (definitely don’t waste your time on the Oxford one apparently it has loads of mistakes especially for organic chemistry, I’ve never even looked inside one haha) but in year 2 I did use a bit of the CGP, just to make sure I knew all the tiny details (like false positives in ion tests, titration colours, indicators etc)
- I did make some quizlet cards in year 2 for chemistry which was really helpful for organic but with chemistry most of the questions they use have already been asked, so honestly you don’t really need flashcards at all unless you want to remember reaction mechanisms and transition metal ion colours / electrode potentials
- In the real exam, the day before I did my revision cards. This didn’t help me at all to be honest, exam practice is EVERYTHING with chemistry, just like maths
- For inorganic chemistry, there are some questions that they repeat over and over again. For instance: why does the ionisation energy increase down the period etc. For these kind of questions, flashcards are really useful and I would suggest doing this: writing the mark scheme down, so that you can keep testing yourself. If you remember the answer structure to a question like that then it shows you that you are familiar with the content and then you can decide whether more revision needed on that topic etc
- Organic chemistry: so many reactions. I made a big mnemonic for year 1 which really helped me, with year 2 I converted everything into quizlet for reactions which was so so so useful. On the ocr website somewhere there’s a pdf with every organic reaction you need to know, and then it has like a blank version you can fill in as a part of recall. Definitely do this regularly once you are familiar with all the reactions!! https://www.ocr.org.uk/images/359182-organic-synthesis-reaction-pathways.pdf (that should be the link to it)
- Once again, the spec is your best friend. Really useful as tells you exact answers to some exam questions and covers all the details in case you get confused by what you need to know by a textbook. The CGP textbook also has some weird stuff in it which is why I never really used it, honestly if there’s stuff you’re not sure about check with your teacher!
- Exam practice is what got me my grade. Physics and maths tutor is brilliant and there are so many other resources you could use as well - YouTube is amazing for this (MaChemGuy and AlleryChemistry are meant to be really good)

For biology and chemistry: make sure you use a highlighter for all exam questions, and after you’ve completed a question make sure you reread it to make sure you haven’t missed anything out (with biology, think where you could chuck more information in whilst thinking of other new ideas). 100% would recommend making quizlet cards for all practicals and converting old practical mark schemes into flashcards too

Maths
- for reference, my grade from first year September to December was an A, A* and a B. From December onwards, consistent A*, I got 5 100%s in a row hehehe
- How I changed my grade: Pearson textbooks. Honestly amazing. If you just sit there doing questions from that textbook on new topics / ones your struggling with, and you continue to do this until you feel comfortable with it, you’re going to be set. Could then do some other questions from MadAsMaths, Maths made easy, physics and maths tutor as well. My college did this thing where every week they’d set a 4hour ish question bank, this was really helpful for me so if your college does anything like that, brilliant. If not, I would make sure to do exam practice from some of those other resources I just listed. A resource I only found out in year 2 was a YouTube channel called TL Maths. He is amazing!! If you’re stuck with anything honestly just check out his channel he has some great stuff on mod functions
- I remember crying with maths at the start of year 1, it can feel so overwhelming and infuriating if you don’t get something right after just learning it to be honest. But with maths perseverance is everything, you just have to keep practicing, exposing yourself to harder questions and don’t be too hard on yourself!
- There are so many great functions on the calculator that perhaps your teachers won’t show you. I found some great ones on the graph setting (make sure you turn on the derivative), you can literally draw a tangent to the curve and the calculator will tell you the gradient of that tangent so you can check that against your answer. Checking your answers is so so so important, I made so many typing in errors throughout! This gave me so much more confidence leaving the exam, you can check so many different types of answers on that calculator and wow it’s just great. Would also recommend using a highlighter
- Some people hate mechanics, I loved it to be honest. It’s just practice practice practice until you are so confident that you’re familiar with all question types (that’s why the Pearson books are so good. They’re written by the exam board)
- I liked stats, but it really is hard to like sometimes. Exam practice is really important, but to understand it is sometimes tricky. So definitely ask your teachers / take a trip to TL Maths’ page to help you out
- SPECIFICATION. I made the rookie mistake of never checking this until the night before, I didn’t learn anything eye opening but it was nice to see and be familiar with the topics and the types of questions they could ask

This is everything I can think of for now, hope it helps :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)
thank you sooo much =)
Original post by bec236
Just thought I’d post this in case it can help anyone. These are just things that worked for me but might be useful for others :smile:

Biology
Year 1:
- Honestly it’s really important to know all the content of module 2, this is definitely knowledge you need to stay on top with as there’s so much application to other topics throughout the course
- Learning wise, I went ahead before most of my lessons to cover the content and make my own notes so I knew what I didn’t understand so I could get help and then the lesson turned into a revision session as I already covered the content myself - this also helps with long-term memory I found
- Definitely do a lot of exam practice, I really think this is what set me ahead of the field so I didn’t have to do too much in Year 2, physics and maths tutor is really good. In about February time I did all the module 2 question banks which really taught me exam practice which is so vital for biology, but one of the main misconceptions is that the content is separate to the exam technique (there are some very harsh mark schemes that make you question everything haha!). What I only really learnt in Year 2 was to just imagine you are explaining something to someone that doesn’t literally know anything about it! Then you just start chucking random ideas and SYNOPTIC links (very very important to recognise this but don’t expect to be able to link everything instantly I found it just comes with time and practice, making sure you recall all the content so you are familiar)
- I made flash cards with the exam questions I got wrong so I kept repeating these until I got this right (would not recommend doing this for year 2 but is very helpful for year 1)
- Make mnemonics for topics where you there are many small details / processes: for instance I had BRCTS which covered the functions of a membrane, To Be Right HIT BRAMP which covered all the diseases. Honestly you can never have too many
- I dont know if I already said this, but recall is your best friend for learning new content and covering old. You could literally sit there with a blank sheet of paper and blurt everything and anything you know about a topic using the textbook headings and then going through the textbook after and adding in a different colour anything you forgot, then repeat and repeat!!
- Textbook I used = CGP, much nicer and not overkill unlike the Oxford book
Year 2:
- I bought an iPad for this year and realised that passive note taking was not effective at all and did not help with my long term memory, so in classes I would make more summary notes (I didn’t have all the time to go ahead for all the lessons, which I definitely wish I did)
- definitely some harder modules (4,6), but again once you know the content it’s just maintaining that, making mnemonics and doing some exam practice. Definitely did a little less exam practice in year 2 than year 1 I feel, but then again I did way more past papers so perhaps it balances out
- I made quizlet cards for pretty much all modules / tricky sections which really helped - another form of recall. This is probably what helped me get an A* in the actual thing as on the quizlet cards I made up my own questions, making my own links which helped me think more synoptically
- Textbooks: CGP and Kerboodle (Oxford). I used kerboodle closer to the real thing to look for any tiny details that they could ask, their summary questions at the end of each mini topic are also really good - some have definitely made an appearance in previous exams. There’s a couple extra details kerboodle covers that CGP doesn’t, for instance root pressure in the plant transport topic, so I definitely would make sure I was aware of little details like that just so you have more knowledge to chuck at the question haha
- through both years, the specification is really useful, I used it almost every lesson (partly because my teachers always went off topic!) but it really helps to use it as some parts of the spec are literal answers to some questions
That’s pretty much everything I can think of for now, for reference from year 1 September to December I was an A, sometimes a B/A*. After Christmas I never really dropped below an A*. In year 2, I was consistently an A/A* or high A and very close to the A* in mini end of topic tests. Across both years where we did proper practice exams in halls I was an A* in all of them. What made me consistently an A* in the end was just giving more time to the subject

Chemistry
- for reference, I never dropped below an A* in this subject and my average was around 95%
- I never really used textbooks (definitely don’t waste your time on the Oxford one apparently it has loads of mistakes especially for organic chemistry, I’ve never even looked inside one haha) but in year 2 I did use a bit of the CGP, just to make sure I knew all the tiny details (like false positives in ion tests, titration colours, indicators etc)
- I did make some quizlet cards in year 2 for chemistry which was really helpful for organic but with chemistry most of the questions they use have already been asked, so honestly you don’t really need flashcards at all unless you want to remember reaction mechanisms and transition metal ion colours / electrode potentials
- In the real exam, the day before I did my revision cards. This didn’t help me at all to be honest, exam practice is EVERYTHING with chemistry, just like maths
- For inorganic chemistry, there are some questions that they repeat over and over again. For instance: why does the ionisation energy increase down the period etc. For these kind of questions, flashcards are really useful and I would suggest doing this: writing the mark scheme down, so that you can keep testing yourself. If you remember the answer structure to a question like that then it shows you that you are familiar with the content and then you can decide whether more revision needed on that topic etc
- Organic chemistry: so many reactions. I made a big mnemonic for year 1 which really helped me, with year 2 I converted everything into quizlet for reactions which was so so so useful. On the ocr website somewhere there’s a pdf with every organic reaction you need to know, and then it has like a blank version you can fill in as a part of recall. Definitely do this regularly once you are familiar with all the reactions!! https://www.ocr.org.uk/images/359182-organic-synthesis-reaction-pathways.pdf (that should be the link to it)
- Once again, the spec is your best friend. Really useful as tells you exact answers to some exam questions and covers all the details in case you get confused by what you need to know by a textbook. The CGP textbook also has some weird stuff in it which is why I never really used it, honestly if there’s stuff you’re not sure about check with your teacher!
- Exam practice is what got me my grade. Physics and maths tutor is brilliant and there are so many other resources you could use as well - YouTube is amazing for this (MaChemGuy and AlleryChemistry are meant to be really good)

For biology and chemistry: make sure you use a highlighter for all exam questions, and after you’ve completed a question make sure you reread it to make sure you haven’t missed anything out (with biology, think where you could chuck more information in whilst thinking of other new ideas). 100% would recommend making quizlet cards for all practicals and converting old practical mark schemes into flashcards too

Maths
- for reference, my grade from first year September to December was an A, A* and a B. From December onwards, consistent A*, I got 5 100%s in a row hehehe
- How I changed my grade: Pearson textbooks. Honestly amazing. If you just sit there doing questions from that textbook on new topics / ones your struggling with, and you continue to do this until you feel comfortable with it, you’re going to be set. Could then do some other questions from MadAsMaths, Maths made easy, physics and maths tutor as well. My college did this thing where every week they’d set a 4hour ish question bank, this was really helpful for me so if your college does anything like that, brilliant. If not, I would make sure to do exam practice from some of those other resources I just listed. A resource I only found out in year 2 was a YouTube channel called TL Maths. He is amazing!! If you’re stuck with anything honestly just check out his channel he has some great stuff on mod functions
- I remember crying with maths at the start of year 1, it can feel so overwhelming and infuriating if you don’t get something right after just learning it to be honest. But with maths perseverance is everything, you just have to keep practicing, exposing yourself to harder questions and don’t be too hard on yourself!
- There are so many great functions on the calculator that perhaps your teachers won’t show you. I found some great ones on the graph setting (make sure you turn on the derivative), you can literally draw a tangent to the curve and the calculator will tell you the gradient of that tangent so you can check that against your answer. Checking your answers is so so so important, I made so many typing in errors throughout! This gave me so much more confidence leaving the exam, you can check so many different types of answers on that calculator and wow it’s just great. Would also recommend using a highlighter
- Some people hate mechanics, I loved it to be honest. It’s just practice practice practice until you are so confident that you’re familiar with all question types (that’s why the Pearson books are so good. They’re written by the exam board)
- I liked stats, but it really is hard to like sometimes. Exam practice is really important, but to understand it is sometimes tricky. So definitely ask your teachers / take a trip to TL Maths’ page to help you out
- SPECIFICATION. I made the rookie mistake of never checking this until the night before, I didn’t learn anything eye opening but it was nice to see and be familiar with the topics and the types of questions they could ask

This is everything I can think of for now, hope it helps :smile:

Omg! Congrats on those grades (I’m doing exact same board and subjects), I’m quite overwhelmed for bio, were those two textbooks your only source of content? I’m trying to find the most reliable and accurate website/textbook for note taking ☹️ but a bit clueless
Original post by bec236
Just thought I’d post this in case it can help anyone. These are just things that worked for me but might be useful for others :smile:

Biology
Year 1:
- Honestly it’s really important to know all the content of module 2, this is definitely knowledge you need to stay on top with as there’s so much application to other topics throughout the course
- Learning wise, I went ahead before most of my lessons to cover the content and make my own notes so I knew what I didn’t understand so I could get help and then the lesson turned into a revision session as I already covered the content myself - this also helps with long-term memory I found
- Definitely do a lot of exam practice, I really think this is what set me ahead of the field so I didn’t have to do too much in Year 2, physics and maths tutor is really good. In about February time I did all the module 2 question banks which really taught me exam practice which is so vital for biology, but one of the main misconceptions is that the content is separate to the exam technique (there are some very harsh mark schemes that make you question everything haha!). What I only really learnt in Year 2 was to just imagine you are explaining something to someone that doesn’t literally know anything about it! Then you just start chucking random ideas and SYNOPTIC links (very very important to recognise this but don’t expect to be able to link everything instantly I found it just comes with time and practice, making sure you recall all the content so you are familiar)
- I made flash cards with the exam questions I got wrong so I kept repeating these until I got this right (would not recommend doing this for year 2 but is very helpful for year 1)
- Make mnemonics for topics where you there are many small details / processes: for instance I had BRCTS which covered the functions of a membrane, To Be Right HIT BRAMP which covered all the diseases. Honestly you can never have too many
- I dont know if I already said this, but recall is your best friend for learning new content and covering old. You could literally sit there with a blank sheet of paper and blurt everything and anything you know about a topic using the textbook headings and then going through the textbook after and adding in a different colour anything you forgot, then repeat and repeat!!
- Textbook I used = CGP, much nicer and not overkill unlike the Oxford book
Year 2:
- I bought an iPad for this year and realised that passive note taking was not effective at all and did not help with my long term memory, so in classes I would make more summary notes (I didn’t have all the time to go ahead for all the lessons, which I definitely wish I did)
- definitely some harder modules (4,6), but again once you know the content it’s just maintaining that, making mnemonics and doing some exam practice. Definitely did a little less exam practice in year 2 than year 1 I feel, but then again I did way more past papers so perhaps it balances out
- I made quizlet cards for pretty much all modules / tricky sections which really helped - another form of recall. This is probably what helped me get an A* in the actual thing as on the quizlet cards I made up my own questions, making my own links which helped me think more synoptically
- Textbooks: CGP and Kerboodle (Oxford). I used kerboodle closer to the real thing to look for any tiny details that they could ask, their summary questions at the end of each mini topic are also really good - some have definitely made an appearance in previous exams. There’s a couple extra details kerboodle covers that CGP doesn’t, for instance root pressure in the plant transport topic, so I definitely would make sure I was aware of little details like that just so you have more knowledge to chuck at the question haha
- through both years, the specification is really useful, I used it almost every lesson (partly because my teachers always went off topic!) but it really helps to use it as some parts of the spec are literal answers to some questions
That’s pretty much everything I can think of for now, for reference from year 1 September to December I was an A, sometimes a B/A*. After Christmas I never really dropped below an A*. In year 2, I was consistently an A/A* or high A and very close to the A* in mini end of topic tests. Across both years where we did proper practice exams in halls I was an A* in all of them. What made me consistently an A* in the end was just giving more time to the subject

Chemistry
- for reference, I never dropped below an A* in this subject and my average was around 95%
- I never really used textbooks (definitely don’t waste your time on the Oxford one apparently it has loads of mistakes especially for organic chemistry, I’ve never even looked inside one haha) but in year 2 I did use a bit of the CGP, just to make sure I knew all the tiny details (like false positives in ion tests, titration colours, indicators etc)
- I did make some quizlet cards in year 2 for chemistry which was really helpful for organic but with chemistry most of the questions they use have already been asked, so honestly you don’t really need flashcards at all unless you want to remember reaction mechanisms and transition metal ion colours / electrode potentials
- In the real exam, the day before I did my revision cards. This didn’t help me at all to be honest, exam practice is EVERYTHING with chemistry, just like maths
- For inorganic chemistry, there are some questions that they repeat over and over again. For instance: why does the ionisation energy increase down the period etc. For these kind of questions, flashcards are really useful and I would suggest doing this: writing the mark scheme down, so that you can keep testing yourself. If you remember the answer structure to a question like that then it shows you that you are familiar with the content and then you can decide whether more revision needed on that topic etc
- Organic chemistry: so many reactions. I made a big mnemonic for year 1 which really helped me, with year 2 I converted everything into quizlet for reactions which was so so so useful. On the ocr website somewhere there’s a pdf with every organic reaction you need to know, and then it has like a blank version you can fill in as a part of recall. Definitely do this regularly once you are familiar with all the reactions!! https://www.ocr.org.uk/images/359182-organic-synthesis-reaction-pathways.pdf (that should be the link to it)
- Once again, the spec is your best friend. Really useful as tells you exact answers to some exam questions and covers all the details in case you get confused by what you need to know by a textbook. The CGP textbook also has some weird stuff in it which is why I never really used it, honestly if there’s stuff you’re not sure about check with your teacher!
- Exam practice is what got me my grade. Physics and maths tutor is brilliant and there are so many other resources you could use as well - YouTube is amazing for this (MaChemGuy and AlleryChemistry are meant to be really good)

For biology and chemistry: make sure you use a highlighter for all exam questions, and after you’ve completed a question make sure you reread it to make sure you haven’t missed anything out (with biology, think where you could chuck more information in whilst thinking of other new ideas). 100% would recommend making quizlet cards for all practicals and converting old practical mark schemes into flashcards too

Maths
- for reference, my grade from first year September to December was an A, A* and a B. From December onwards, consistent A*, I got 5 100%s in a row hehehe
- How I changed my grade: Pearson textbooks. Honestly amazing. If you just sit there doing questions from that textbook on new topics / ones your struggling with, and you continue to do this until you feel comfortable with it, you’re going to be set. Could then do some other questions from MadAsMaths, Maths made easy, physics and maths tutor as well. My college did this thing where every week they’d set a 4hour ish question bank, this was really helpful for me so if your college does anything like that, brilliant. If not, I would make sure to do exam practice from some of those other resources I just listed. A resource I only found out in year 2 was a YouTube channel called TL Maths. He is amazing!! If you’re stuck with anything honestly just check out his channel he has some great stuff on mod functions
- I remember crying with maths at the start of year 1, it can feel so overwhelming and infuriating if you don’t get something right after just learning it to be honest. But with maths perseverance is everything, you just have to keep practicing, exposing yourself to harder questions and don’t be too hard on yourself!
- There are so many great functions on the calculator that perhaps your teachers won’t show you. I found some great ones on the graph setting (make sure you turn on the derivative), you can literally draw a tangent to the curve and the calculator will tell you the gradient of that tangent so you can check that against your answer. Checking your answers is so so so important, I made so many typing in errors throughout! This gave me so much more confidence leaving the exam, you can check so many different types of answers on that calculator and wow it’s just great. Would also recommend using a highlighter
- Some people hate mechanics, I loved it to be honest. It’s just practice practice practice until you are so confident that you’re familiar with all question types (that’s why the Pearson books are so good. They’re written by the exam board)
- I liked stats, but it really is hard to like sometimes. Exam practice is really important, but to understand it is sometimes tricky. So definitely ask your teachers / take a trip to TL Maths’ page to help you out
- SPECIFICATION. I made the rookie mistake of never checking this until the night before, I didn’t learn anything eye opening but it was nice to see and be familiar with the topics and the types of questions they could ask

This is everything I can think of for now, hope it helps :smile:

Thank you this is really useful going to start implementing especially the chem and bio notes.
Reply 4
Original post by bec236
Just thought I’d post this in case it can help anyone. These are just things that worked for me but might be useful for others :smile:

Biology
Year 1:
- Honestly it’s really important to know all the content of module 2, this is definitely knowledge you need to stay on top with as there’s so much application to other topics throughout the course
- Learning wise, I went ahead before most of my lessons to cover the content and make my own notes so I knew what I didn’t understand so I could get help and then the lesson turned into a revision session as I already covered the content myself - this also helps with long-term memory I found
- Definitely do a lot of exam practice, I really think this is what set me ahead of the field so I didn’t have to do too much in Year 2, physics and maths tutor is really good. In about February time I did all the module 2 question banks which really taught me exam practice which is so vital for biology, but one of the main misconceptions is that the content is separate to the exam technique (there are some very harsh mark schemes that make you question everything haha!). What I only really learnt in Year 2 was to just imagine you are explaining something to someone that doesn’t literally know anything about it! Then you just start chucking random ideas and SYNOPTIC links (very very important to recognise this but don’t expect to be able to link everything instantly I found it just comes with time and practice, making sure you recall all the content so you are familiar)
- I made flash cards with the exam questions I got wrong so I kept repeating these until I got this right (would not recommend doing this for year 2 but is very helpful for year 1)
- Make mnemonics for topics where you there are many small details / processes: for instance I had BRCTS which covered the functions of a membrane, To Be Right HIT BRAMP which covered all the diseases. Honestly you can never have too many
- I dont know if I already said this, but recall is your best friend for learning new content and covering old. You could literally sit there with a blank sheet of paper and blurt everything and anything you know about a topic using the textbook headings and then going through the textbook after and adding in a different colour anything you forgot, then repeat and repeat!!
- Textbook I used = CGP, much nicer and not overkill unlike the Oxford book
Year 2:
- I bought an iPad for this year and realised that passive note taking was not effective at all and did not help with my long term memory, so in classes I would make more summary notes (I didn’t have all the time to go ahead for all the lessons, which I definitely wish I did)
- definitely some harder modules (4,6), but again once you know the content it’s just maintaining that, making mnemonics and doing some exam practice. Definitely did a little less exam practice in year 2 than year 1 I feel, but then again I did way more past papers so perhaps it balances out
- I made quizlet cards for pretty much all modules / tricky sections which really helped - another form of recall. This is probably what helped me get an A* in the actual thing as on the quizlet cards I made up my own questions, making my own links which helped me think more synoptically
- Textbooks: CGP and Kerboodle (Oxford). I used kerboodle closer to the real thing to look for any tiny details that they could ask, their summary questions at the end of each mini topic are also really good - some have definitely made an appearance in previous exams. There’s a couple extra details kerboodle covers that CGP doesn’t, for instance root pressure in the plant transport topic, so I definitely would make sure I was aware of little details like that just so you have more knowledge to chuck at the question haha
- through both years, the specification is really useful, I used it almost every lesson (partly because my teachers always went off topic!) but it really helps to use it as some parts of the spec are literal answers to some questions
That’s pretty much everything I can think of for now, for reference from year 1 September to December I was an A, sometimes a B/A*. After Christmas I never really dropped below an A*. In year 2, I was consistently an A/A* or high A and very close to the A* in mini end of topic tests. Across both years where we did proper practice exams in halls I was an A* in all of them. What made me consistently an A* in the end was just giving more time to the subject

Chemistry
- for reference, I never dropped below an A* in this subject and my average was around 95%
- I never really used textbooks (definitely don’t waste your time on the Oxford one apparently it has loads of mistakes especially for organic chemistry, I’ve never even looked inside one haha) but in year 2 I did use a bit of the CGP, just to make sure I knew all the tiny details (like false positives in ion tests, titration colours, indicators etc)
- I did make some quizlet cards in year 2 for chemistry which was really helpful for organic but with chemistry most of the questions they use have already been asked, so honestly you don’t really need flashcards at all unless you want to remember reaction mechanisms and transition metal ion colours / electrode potentials
- In the real exam, the day before I did my revision cards. This didn’t help me at all to be honest, exam practice is EVERYTHING with chemistry, just like maths
- For inorganic chemistry, there are some questions that they repeat over and over again. For instance: why does the ionisation energy increase down the period etc. For these kind of questions, flashcards are really useful and I would suggest doing this: writing the mark scheme down, so that you can keep testing yourself. If you remember the answer structure to a question like that then it shows you that you are familiar with the content and then you can decide whether more revision needed on that topic etc
- Organic chemistry: so many reactions. I made a big mnemonic for year 1 which really helped me, with year 2 I converted everything into quizlet for reactions which was so so so useful. On the ocr website somewhere there’s a pdf with every organic reaction you need to know, and then it has like a blank version you can fill in as a part of recall. Definitely do this regularly once you are familiar with all the reactions!! https://www.ocr.org.uk/images/359182-organic-synthesis-reaction-pathways.pdf (that should be the link to it)
- Once again, the spec is your best friend. Really useful as tells you exact answers to some exam questions and covers all the details in case you get confused by what you need to know by a textbook. The CGP textbook also has some weird stuff in it which is why I never really used it, honestly if there’s stuff you’re not sure about check with your teacher!
- Exam practice is what got me my grade. Physics and maths tutor is brilliant and there are so many other resources you could use as well - YouTube is amazing for this (MaChemGuy and AlleryChemistry are meant to be really good)

For biology and chemistry: make sure you use a highlighter for all exam questions, and after you’ve completed a question make sure you reread it to make sure you haven’t missed anything out (with biology, think where you could chuck more information in whilst thinking of other new ideas). 100% would recommend making quizlet cards for all practicals and converting old practical mark schemes into flashcards too

Maths
- for reference, my grade from first year September to December was an A, A* and a B. From December onwards, consistent A*, I got 5 100%s in a row hehehe
- How I changed my grade: Pearson textbooks. Honestly amazing. If you just sit there doing questions from that textbook on new topics / ones your struggling with, and you continue to do this until you feel comfortable with it, you’re going to be set. Could then do some other questions from MadAsMaths, Maths made easy, physics and maths tutor as well. My college did this thing where every week they’d set a 4hour ish question bank, this was really helpful for me so if your college does anything like that, brilliant. If not, I would make sure to do exam practice from some of those other resources I just listed. A resource I only found out in year 2 was a YouTube channel called TL Maths. He is amazing!! If you’re stuck with anything honestly just check out his channel he has some great stuff on mod functions
- I remember crying with maths at the start of year 1, it can feel so overwhelming and infuriating if you don’t get something right after just learning it to be honest. But with maths perseverance is everything, you just have to keep practicing, exposing yourself to harder questions and don’t be too hard on yourself!
- There are so many great functions on the calculator that perhaps your teachers won’t show you. I found some great ones on the graph setting (make sure you turn on the derivative), you can literally draw a tangent to the curve and the calculator will tell you the gradient of that tangent so you can check that against your answer. Checking your answers is so so so important, I made so many typing in errors throughout! This gave me so much more confidence leaving the exam, you can check so many different types of answers on that calculator and wow it’s just great. Would also recommend using a highlighter
- Some people hate mechanics, I loved it to be honest. It’s just practice practice practice until you are so confident that you’re familiar with all question types (that’s why the Pearson books are so good. They’re written by the exam board)
- I liked stats, but it really is hard to like sometimes. Exam practice is really important, but to understand it is sometimes tricky. So definitely ask your teachers / take a trip to TL Maths’ page to help you out
- SPECIFICATION. I made the rookie mistake of never checking this until the night before, I didn’t learn anything eye opening but it was nice to see and be familiar with the topics and the types of questions they could ask

This is everything I can think of for now, hope it helps :smile:


Thanks for the tips!! I'm doing all of those subjects but bio is stressing me out haha. How often did you revise in year 1? :smile:

Latest