Success in GCSE Combined Science is made up of equal parts detailed knowledge and excellent exam technique. These are the essential things that you need to focus on when planning your revision and the methods that you are going to use. If you don’t know where to start, this article should give you some helpful techniques to get you started!
1. Note-making, not note-taking
We’re first going to tackle the knowledge part of the exams; the key to succeeding in this area is to make sure that you learn the details which will help you score extra marks in recall questions. To do this, it’s important that you start by making detailed notes in your preferred structure (Cornell, bullet points, etc.) and then summarise them down step by step. This could be a mind map or a single side of A4 and then onto a flash card. This allows you to recall complex information from simple keywords and phrases; a skill which will be helpful when answering recall questions in the exam.
2. Be your own teacher: study with flashcards
Another method that some students find effective is the use of question and answer flashcards. To do this you write the question on one side of the flashcard and the answer on the other so that you can test yourself. Alternatively, you could put multiple question and answer pairs on each card to save space! Matching pair games can also be used for reactions and other topics; by writing the reactants on one side and the products on the other, you can then learn the equations by matching them up.
3. Practice different question types
Once you have tackled the knowledge portion of revision, you need to look at the exam technique. Science exams typically have a wide range of question types which you need to learn how to approach in order to succeed. These typically include multiple choice questions, short answer questions and longer response questions - each requiring a specific method in the exam.
When tackling multiple choice and recall questions, you should never spend more than a couple of minutes on them at most. With multiple choice questions, there are usually one or two answers which can immediately be eliminated as wrong. If you are still unsure of the answer after doing this, the best option is to guess one of the remaining options, circle the question and come back to it at the end of the exam. Short answer questions should be approached similarly; if you don’t know the answer within a couple of minutes, guess as much as you can and then circle it so that you can return to the question at the end.
For longer answer questions, a little more practice is usually required in order to learn the correct technique. Whilst knowledge will typically make up the vast majority of the marks available, there may be one or two marks which are available for the quality of written answers. To prepare for these questions, it’s important that you practice these using past paper questions or the questions at the end of our videos and then go through your answers carefully with the mark scheme. It may also be a good idea for you to get a teacher to mark your work so that they can help you identify the areas where you are losing marks.
When aiming for a 9, you need to be prepared to cover the material multiple times in order to learn it in sufficient detail for the exam questions. You also need to ensure that you practice questions for each topic so that you are aware how they may ask about the content in the exam. It’s important that you do not get thrown in the exam as this can cost you to make silly mistakes and lose valuable minutes!