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Top Tips to Get A 9/A* in GCSE Chemistry

Top Tips to Get A 9/A* in GCSE Chemistry

GCSE Chemistry is known to be one of the hardest courses. If you want to do well in this course, you'll need a focused and regular revision plan. You can easily get the best grades in GCSE Chemistry even if you don't like the subject by following certain things. All you need is a plan and a lot of hard work.

Ahead, we will talk about our expert GCSE Chemistry study tips. By using these skills, you'll be ready for the test in the best way possible.

The GCSE Grading System

When the government switched from using letters (A* to G) to numbers (9 to 1) for grading, it made it tougher to get the top grade. A 9 in GCSE Maths or Science is even better than getting an A* because it's meant for the very best students.

In 2022, only 6.6% of all results in England were Grade 9s across all GCSE subjects. So, how can you do really well in GCSE Maths and Science? Here are our top tips for success.

Classwork Tips for GCSE Chemistry

Mostly, students get lost and confused in GCSE Chemistry class, and some even fall asleep. Chemistry can be difficult and tricky to understand. You will be learning a lot over the next two years because there is a lot to cover. So, there is no need to wait until the last minute to do all of your coursework. Just keep up with your everyday classroom tasks instead of leaving everything at the last minute.

1. Understand the Basics

In order to understand complex chemistry topics, you must understand its basics. Every topic is linked to the other and builds on progressively. So, if you want to understand how organic chemistry works, you really need to understand organic bonding. And, if you’re looking to explore metallic properties, you should have an idea about metal bonds. 

Covering these basics is extremely important; otherwise, you will not understand anything. Students try to cram pages before the exam, but it never goes their way.

2. Ask for Help

There are some topics in GCSE Chemistry that are hard to understand. For some, it's organic chemistry, and for others, it’s inorganic. To fully understand something, sometimes you just need someone else to look at it from a different point of view. Asking for help shouldn’t be a big deal when you’re at school. 

Many students are afraid to question and ask for the teacher’s help due to social anxiety and pressure. However, you should understand that your teachers are there to help you and that losing your chance will affect your grades. 

If someone is not comfortable getting help from a tutor in school, a one-on-one teacher might work. You can book lessons with private tutoring companies, like MTS. We provide you with certified GCSE chemistry teachers who are there to help at your convenience.

3. Make up Your Missed Lessons 

At some point, you're going to miss a lesson or two. Maybe you're sick or have to go to a sports event or attend a relative’s wedding. It's important not to fall behind because things tend to build on each other. Talk to your teacher about how to make up a lesson you missed, or look at a friend's class notes.

Remember, the more you slack and leave things on the next day, the harder it will be to accomplish them. You need to work every day, consistently to make progress. It can be hard at first, but it is totally worth it.

Interesting Read: Learn Without Forgetting

Revision Strategies for GCSE Chemistry

A solid and well-thought-out plan for studying should be followed in the months before GCSE exam season. It is important to make the most of your time and study smartly because you will have a lot of different topics to prepare for the night before the exam.

1. Plan Your Timetable

Students are often confused about planning their timetable. They should read the test requirements carefully and figure out what topics are covered in each paper. Make a study schedule with this information to make sure you cover all the material by the time each test comes around. 

Some students tend to focus on the things they are good at and are interested in, while completely ignoring the things they need to work on. Making a revision schedule can help you avoid this issue.

2. Use Old Tests to Prepare

It's important to practice!

It's not enough to remember what you learned in class; you also need to be able to use what you know to answer test questions. Exam boards will cover the same subjects, but the way they give grades will be different. 

For most GCSE test boards, there are a lot of old papers that you can look at online. As you go through them, you'll come across questions that are similar to others and get a feel for what the examiner wants from you.

3. Use Internet

There are many tools out there that are meant to make studying as simple as possible. Not only do resources have old tests available, but they also have banks of questions organized by subject. If you are having trouble with a certain part of the course, this is a great way to practice.

4. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When you are revising, it’s important to stay consistent. Consistency comes when you’re doing things that do not burden you. Instead of pushing yourself to memorize everything in a day, you should take simpler and smaller steps toward your preparation. 

As with any muscle, if you work it out too quickly and too hard, you'll wind up hurting it more than helping it. Our brains are just like that. Having a regular plan for reviewing is much better than trying to fit everything into one 10-hour studying marathon! 

5. Examine the Exam Board's Requirements

The exam board’s specifications tell students everything they need to know and do. While revision guides and textbooks cover some of this, always start with the guidelines to know exactly what you need to learn. Then, other resources can be used for studying or reviewing. You can find the specifications for free on the exam board websites.

6. Practice Past Papers

Remember, all exam questions are based on the board's specifications, not just textbooks or guides. If you check recent papers' marking schemes, you'll see they indicate which part of the specification each question relates to. Understanding the specification is key, which is why past papers are valuable for revision.

7. Aim For a Score

The percentage needed for a top grade like 9 can change yearly, depending on how others perform. Generally, Grade 9 goes to the top 5% or 1 in 20 students. Know what score you're aiming for and review your current marks to figure out the percentage you need in the exam to achieve that top grade.

8. Condense Your Notes

Condensing your notes is very important. On the last day, you can not start over from the basics to study everything. Use lecture slides, previous notes, and textbooks to condense each topic into one page of notes. You should focus on learning key concepts, examples, evaluations, and at least one conflicting argument for essay-based and theoretical chemistry questions.

Extract important information from your notes, and avoid copying paragraphs as it's laborious and time-consuming. Instead, create selective notes that trigger your memory when reviewed on the morning of the exam.

Relevant Read: How Can You Extract Important Points in Text?

Exam Tips for GCSE Chemistry

To do well in Chemistry and aim for a Grade 9, you must know how to tackle exam questions effectively.

Understand the Examiner

Knowing what different command words mean in Chemistry exams is super important. Here's a list:

  • Identify: Spot something in a picture or diagram or name it.
  • State/Give: Provide a brief answer, maybe just one word, without much explanation.
  • Define: Explain the meaning of a word or phrase.
  • Describe: Recall facts, events, or processes.
  • Explain: Give reasons why something happens.
  • Evaluate: Make a judgment using your own knowledge and the information given, considering both sides.
  • Calculate: Use the numbers given and do the math to find the answer.
  • Compare (and contrast): Talk about how things are similar and different.
  • Suggest: Apply what you know to a new situation.

Answering Longer Questions

In Chemistry exams, you'll come across longer questions that need more detailed answers. These usually range from four to six marks. They might ask you to explain a method or evaluate information. Your answer gets graded by level first, and then marks are given within that level.

For example, to get the highest marks on a question about writing a method, you need to provide all the steps:

“Describe the procedure you would follow to separate a mixture of salt and sand. Include all the steps and any equipment you would need”

For this question, you need to first write about the chemical reaction and then explain its steps and the types of equipment you need. 

For an evaluation question, the examiner will ask you to justify your answer and provide a comprehensive explanation. In this part, many students lack because they have crammed the reactions but they do not know the mechanisms that go behind those reactions. 

You should use bullet points to answer these types of questions and always stick to what the examiner is asking instead of adding fluff.

Is your answer enough?

In Chemistry exams, questions can be worth anywhere from 1 to 6 marks. The more marks a question has, the more detailed your answer should be. Don't feel like you need to fill out all the lines provided for your answer. Many students waste time writing too much or repeating themselves.


For Chemistry, it's important to know about independent, dependent, and control variables in experiments:

  • Independent variable: What you change.
  • Dependent variable: What you measure.
  • Control variable: What stays the same.

Different exam boards have different rules, so check their mark schemes to be sure. However, these variables are the fundamental basis of any practical exam. The questions might be to analyze a graph or find the unknown from the known. 

Use Your Periodic Table!

Make sure you're familiar with the periodic table. Knowing it well will save you time during the exam. Start by drawing the "staircase" that separates metals from non-metals. Knowing the atomic number and masses of every element is extremely important because it will help you write the products of a reaction that you forgot.

Learn ions to balance equations

You won't have a data sheet in the exam, so spend time learning simple (like Cl-) and complex (like NO3-) ions. You might need to write balanced equations, so knowing how to figure out formulas is very important. This skill can make a difference in your results.

Key Takeaways

  • Aim for a 9/A* by recognizing exceptional performance.
  • Actively participate, understand basics, and seek help when needed.
  • Master basic concepts before tackling complex topics.
  • Avoid cramming, prioritize understanding, and maintain consistent study sessions.
  • Tailor revision to exam specifications and practice past papers for familiarity.
  •  Provide clear, structured answers without unnecessary elaboration.
  • Familiarize yourself with it and learn how to balance equations.

Final Thoughts

Achieving top grades in GCSE Chemistry requires dedication, strategic planning, and consistent effort. By understanding the grading system, building strong foundations, and seeking help from a chemistry expert, you can significantly enhance your chances of attaining a 9/A*. 

Remember to stay focused, prioritize understanding over memorization, and utilize available resources wisely. With perseverance and smart study habits, you can excel in GCSE Chemistry and achieve your academic goals!

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