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Continuously revising the content throughout the course  is important to ensure all content is understood properly...




Once you have completed a topic in class,  write summarised notes that only contained key information relevant to the syllabus 

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Practice makes perfect! Doing lots of past papers is one of the best methods of revision for IB chemistry...


IB Chemistry

IB Chemistry is a rigorous but certainly enjoyable and rewarding course as it allows you to be immersed in rich scientific content. Doing well in this subject is not impossible but it definitely requires a lot of time, practice and hard work, especially at higher level!! Here are some of my best tips that I discovered and helped me throughout the course:


1. Visit the material as often as possible

​​The chemistry course has quite a lot of content that gets learnt progressively over two years. Therefore, it is vital that content learnt in year 1 is still revised just as often, otherwise it will pile up too close to the final exams and have to be relearned. This can be done through:


    • This is the best method for quick revision of content as it mostly tests your knowledge​/factual recall.


    • This method involves choosing a topic and then writing out ALL the information you can recall ​from memory. Once you have written everything you can remember, use a textbook or your notes to write any missed information in a different coloured pen, this essentially highlights any gaps in your knowledge that need to be revised.

​2. Past paper questions

In the HL chemistry course, there is a significant amount of calculations involved, where in most cases the questions asked are all similar in fashion, just with different numbers. Similar to math, to get better at these types of questions PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, therefore if you complete more papers, you are likely to become more familiar with the content and style of question to thus improve your grades!!


    • As our final exams approached, our class created topic tests with the most difficult questions we could find or with questions we had formulated ourselves. We then shared these tests with each other and I found it very effective in terms of finding the minutiae of the course and determining gaps in my knowledge right before the final exam.

    • Creating your own questions can also be effective as you are forced to apply your knowledge in a different way.

  • MARK-SCHEMES as revision

    • Past papers and markschemes are often an underused method of revision or they are not used effectively. In science-based subjects, terminology is paramount, whereby examiners often look for key terms in your answers to then reward marks. Therefore, incorporate some of the language used in the mark schemes to formulate your summary notes!

  • TRACK your progress and DOCUMENT MISTAKES

    • After you complete a past paper,​ write out a detailed game plan of what steps you need to take next to improve upon this grade. This may include: revisiting a topic in more depth, practicing a certain style of question, asking your teacher for help or adding missed information into your notes etc.

    • Documenting your mistakes is one of the BEST ways to effectively revise as you are forced to grapple with the content you find most challenging, so that hopefully when you encounter a similar question in the future, you are able to answer it correctly!


    • This is especially important in the months before your final examination as leaves some time to either practice more so you get faster OR change the order/way in which you approach the questions in the paper.


In the exam, there are a few things you should remember:

  • MARKS = number of points to make

    • The number of marks each question is worth is the best indicator of what your response should include​

    • For example, if there is a 3 mark question asking "Explain the trend in atomic radius across period 3", be sure to give 3 DIFFERENT reasons/points

  • Always double check your calculations once you have completed the paper 

    • It is possible that you may have entered the numbers incorrectly into the calculator or you have used the wrong value from the data booklet, so be sure to CHECK YOUR WORK

  • Don't spend too long on a single question

    • Especially in the paper ​2 for HL, the paper is out of 95, therefore you cannot afford to spend all your time trying to figure out this one question. It is in your best interest to move on and complete the paper, then if you have time, revisit it.



to aid your 

chemistry revision

More revision tips for IB Chemistry


1. spaced repetition

The IB Chemistry course contains a lot of content that cannot be easily revised a few nights before the exam. One method that I found very useful is that of spaced revision coupled with active recall. 

Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves reviewing the material in certain intervals from the point at which it was first learnt. To put this into practice, this is what I did throughout the entire course:

  1. Write quick/rough notes in class based on what the teacher talked about, especially the points that the teacher notes as important! (i.e. formulas, definitions etc.)

  2. That same day or within the next 2 days, write out these notes properly, taking time to go through multiple sources (e.g. powerpoint presentations and textbooks) and be sure to include the points from the rough notes taken earlier in a different colour/highlight them.

  3. Within the next 3-4 days, review these notes by either reading through them or carrying out active recall. I recommend doing active recall as it is a more efficient way of learning that involves trying to remember all the information from memory.

  4. Information can also be recalled by doing 5 multiple choice questions or 2-3 short answer questions based on the topic being studied, daily or every second day.

2. summary notes

Summary notes are a common method of revision for many students. However, to ensure they are an EFFECTIVE means of revising they should be written with the current syllabus in mind. The IB Chemistry guide can be found here.

Throughout the course, I found that it was best to write summary notes for the topic once I had finished learning it in class or if there was a topic test coming up. By doing this, the notes can be written at a steady pace and not rushed right before the final IB exam, because there is A LOT of content in which summary notes cannot just be written the night before the exam :)

Summary notes can be in the form of revision booklets, one page summary notes, mind maps and many more...

Tips to write effective summary notes:

  • Use syllabus definitions! - these tend to be the most relevant and accurate

  • Follow the points in the syllabus as a guide 

  • Use multiple sources to obtain the most accurate information (e.g. IB textbooks)

  • Ask your teacher if you are unsure of any information which will allow you to adapt your notes to ensure it is explained with clarity, therefore in the future you are more likely to understand the concept when you return to your notes

  • Box or highlight KEY information (e.g. formulas, definitions)

  • For common questions/topics in past papers, base your notes around the mark scheme so you are learning the correct and essential terminology to gain marks!

3. Practice papers

This is quite an obvious revision technique and one you have probably heard your teachers mention a million times. However, this revision method can be maximised to its full potential to help you achieve consistency and accuracy in exams by also doing the following things:

  • DOCUMENT your mistakes!!

    • Keep a separate book where you are able to document which questions you got wrong after each past paper, assessment or exam you complete.

    • Document the question, why you got it wrong and what the correct answer is

    • If you continue to do this after each paper you complete it will benefit your revision in the lead up to your final exams because your weaker topics are already outlined, meaning you can then prioritise these areas of the subject.

  • ASK your teacher for help

    • Once you complete and mark a past paper, be sure to go through the tough questions with the markscheme. Most of the time you should be able to follow it and determine why you got the question wrong so that you don't make the same mistake in the future. 

    • Although if you are having a hard time with a particular question or even style of question, be sure to ask your teacher for help as they may be able to explain it in a simpler way (that's what they are there for!!).

  • Look for TRENDS

    • After you have completed a significant number of past papers, it is highly probable that you will notice patterns and common questions that appear each year​

    • As the bare minimum, be sure you are able to confidently answer these questions with consistency and accuracy.

    • However, if you are aiming for a 7, I suggest that you also document any "strange/unusual" questions that you come across and make yourself familiar with them (i.e. determine why it is difficult, how can you apply your knowledge to answer it?). 

    • Typically if the syllabus has not changed for a while, then the questions tend to get harder as the examiners attempt to search for the minutae of the course that students may ignore or quickly pass over. Therefore, I recommend that whilst you complete past papers, stay aware of which syllabus points have not or rarely been examined in the past because there is a chance it might appear in the next section (so don't completely NEGLECT the uncommon topics)

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