How to revise for science exams
To effectively revise for your science exams, you should split up each subject (biology, chemistry and physics) into the different topics you’ll be tested on and tackle each one separately by learning the syllabus and practising past paper questions.
Look through the science syllabus and organise your revision schedule
Before you start revising, it is a good idea to print off the exam board syllabus for physics, biology and chemistry. Look through the syllabus for each subject to make sure you know what will be included and expected of you in each exam. You should then highlight the mark scheme depending on how well you know it; for example, use red for the subjects you are very unsure of, yellow for the subjects you aren’t confident with and green for the areas you are comfortable with.
Based on your highlighted syllabus, you can then compile a revision checklist and/or timetable to work through, allocating time to each subject, with the topics you struggle with first (the red ones) and the areas you are most confident in last (the green ones).
- See our advice on tips to beat procrastination to help you stay focused.
Work through the syllabus for your physics, chemistry or biology exam
Once you have organised your checklist/timetable, you should work through each topic with help from textbooks, class notes and any online resources. Working through the topics one at a time, with a mixture of learning the information and testing yourself, can be an effective way to revise. Focus on one topic at a time from your highlighted checklists until you understand it. Each time you learn a topic you will increase your mark, and the more you learn, the better your grade will be.
Stuck? YouTube and other websites can help your science revision
It can be really helpful to watch any difficult topics on YouTube or other similar websites (but make sure they are for your level) as they can combine diagrams with good explanations. If you’re struggling with any topics, see what other resources are available. This could include searching the internet or asking your teacher whether your school is subscribed to any useful websites or guides. If you don’t understand the way one textbook explains a subject, see if your class notes or a website explains the topic more coherently.
- See our list of useful revision websites and apps, including specifically science related resources.
- See our other whacky revision tips for other interesting tips and advice.
Testing yourself is the best form of revision
As with every subject, doing science exam board past papers is the most useful form of revision. You can test the knowledge you have learned and how to manage your time in the exam. By marking your test papers, you can see what areas you are doing well in and those that you may need to focus on.
Using the mark scheme also shows you the exact wording you may need to get the mark. Science exams require you to show detailed knowledge of the subject, which includes the specific names of features you are studying such as neutrons and electrons, for example. For some questions in science papers you may need to use a particular word or phrase. The AQA biology A level unit 1 2016 paper, for instance, only gives the mark if the phrase ‘fatty acid’ is used, and it doesn’t allow any alternatives. It is easy to learn these key words directly from the mark scheme and repeat them in your own answers.
Also, remember that for longer mark questions you may need to show your working out to get the marks. Make sure your answers are easy to read and understand to ensure you can get as many marks as possible.