Want to know the secret to achieving a Band 6 in HSC Chemistry?
Well, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you get the results you want! We’ll cover the essential skills you need to develop, take you through turning the syllabus into a study checklist, show you how to perfect your chemistry notes and prepare for the exam!
It’s time for you to become a HSC Chemistry whizz, so let’s dive in!
Part 1: Developing Essential HSC Chemistry Skills
Knowing how to write an extended response and research report are very important skills for HSC Chemistry. Even if you’re on top of all the content, you still need to make sure you’re able to communicate the information in an effective way.
How to Write a Research Report
Under the current HSC syllabus, it is possible that you may have to write a research report as part of your Depth Study. While it’s not rocket science (excuse the pun), there is a particular way to structure a research report and it does take some practice getting it to all flow together!
These are the seven parts included:
Part 1: Title
Your title has got to include your main variables and the subject matter.
Part 2: Abstract
This is a succinct summary paragraph (less than 200 words) which explains the purpose, the results and how the results were gathered.
Part 3: Introduction
There’s a lot to include but it shouldn’t be more than four paragraphs long! You’ve got to fit in your research question, background information, hypothesis, approach and the contribution your research will make to the world of science.
Part 4: Method
This is where you explain how you tested your hypothesis and go through each step in chronological order. Keep in mind that illustrations and flowcharts can also be useful in explaining the steps you used.
Part 5: Results
You can use a table or graph to showcase your results or perhaps if the data is qualitative, you’ll simply describe the results.
Part 6: Discussion
This is where you’ll take about any results that stand out to you or are of particular interest. You want to be really detailed in this section.
Part 7: References
Make sure you know which referencing style you’re meant to use! Ask your teacher if you’re not sure.
For more information, take a look at our comprehensive guide which goes further into all the details of each step — make sure you spend a bit of time reading through each step so you know exactly what to include and then you’ll be well on your way to acing that research report!
How to Write an Extended Response
Learning how to master answering HSC Chemistry extended responses can make the difference between a Band 5 and Band 6.
We’ve got four simple steps for you to follow:
Step 1: Read the question
Once you know how to answer the question, you’re already off to a great start!
Now, the how usually relates to that one verb in the question — whether it’s assess, compare or justify (or any of the others), that already tells you a lot about how you should answer the question. So, be sure to read it!
Step 2: Plan your answer
You need to make sure your answer will cover the syllabus dot points! So be strategic about how you answer it — think about the best way to structure your answer clearly.
Step 3: Consider the use of diagrams, tables or flow charts
To make best use of the space you have, consider some illustrations to help explain your answers which take up less space that a huge written explanation. You don’t want to be penalised for using more space than provided for the answer.
Step 4: Picture the marking criteria
What will the markers be expecting of you? You’ll probably be able to guess a few points on the marking criteria depending on the question.
For example, if it’s a ‘compare’ question, there will be marks for showing how different or similar something is.
In our article, we’ve also compiled a list of verbs from NESA which could appear in any of your extended responses. Get familiar with them!
Part 2: Identifying What to Study
When we tell you that the chemistry syllabus is secretly your best friend — we’re not lying! Everything you’re expected to know lies within the syllabus.
Now, while that may sound slightly daunting because a) it’s a lot to cover and b) the syllabus is kind of messy, we’ve got a tip for you that’s going to make what you need to know a whole lot clearer!
You’re going to create a checklist by breaking down the syllabus one dot point at a time to make sure you’re on top of all the theory and practicals!
Take a look at the steps for the Theory Study Checklist:
Step 1: Highlight the key word/s in the dot point
Don’t go too crazy with that highlighter; you want to highlight unique terms and then find their definitions!
Step 2: Identify any underlying chemical or molecular interactions
Ask yourself questions about each dot point and if you don’t have a good understanding, consult the internet or you teacher!
Step 3: Identify what the verb is asking you to do
Whether it’s identify, account for, discuss or analyse, take notice of it because the verb tells you what you need to know and how to answer the question.
Alrighty, now that you’ve got an idea of how to convert the syllabus into a checklist for theory, it’s time to learn how to stay on top of practicals!
Part 3: Perfecting Your HSC Chemistry Study Notes
How are you going to learn all the content?
The key to ensuring you cover all the content and have a thorough understanding of it is having a good set of study notes which you can look at regularly!
Of course, you’re going to consult your best friend, the syllabus, to make sure you cover every dot point.
We know perfecting your study notes can take some serious time but once you’ve got them, it’s going to make all that content learning so much easier.
You’re in luck because we’ve got a few tips and tricks so you can make an awesome set of HSC Chemistry study notes!
There’s just five simple steps involved:
So, that first step: target the syllabus is about organising your study notes using the syllabus as a guide to ensure that you’re covering every dot point.
You can either do this by using subheadings from the syllabus or labelling the syllabus dot point in brackets next to your notes — whatever works best for you!
The next step is to write your study notes out. Diagrams, tables and mind maps are going to make your life a lot easier when it comes to processing all of the information and developing a good understanding of it.
Handwriting your notes out at least once a week is a great way of remembering the content!
What about all those chemical equations to remember?
Apart from getting your head around all of the content, you also have to remember a lot of chemical equations! But fear not because we’ve got some more tips and tricks for you.
This is just one way:
Write out each chemical equation on an individual sticky note. Put the sticky notes in different places around your house so that way, you’ll see them everyday! You can also colour coordinate the sticky notes for each topic.
In this article, Tip #4 takes you through a very smart way on how to make sure all those equations stick in your head!
Part 4: Preparing for Your Exams
Practice papers are the best way to cement your knowledge and to find out what you still need to work on.
Instead of waiting until just before an exam, it’s useful doing practice papers as you go. That way, you’ll see what you can and can’t do so you’ll realise early on where you need to spend more time to improve.
Just as important as doing the practice papers is using the worked solutions to see how you actually went. That’s the only way you’ll learn and improve.
By doing practice papers, you’re also exposed to a whole range of different questions which will not only help better prepare you but also make you feel more confident when you get into the exam room.
We’ve compiled a list of all the HSC Chemistry past papers so you can practise as much as you want! Be sure to use the marking guidelines so you can compare your answers.
So what are you waiting for? Start working through those practice papers!
Just so you have access to even more questions, we’ve put together 20 questions for each of the four different modules!
Take a look at all of them here:
And that’s it!
That’s our ultimate guide to help you on your way to achieving that Band 6 in HSC Chemistry.
Depending on where you’re at in the school year, we’ve also got some study plans to help you study for Chemistry, check them out:
Now, it’s time to get studying and practising — you’ve got this! Good luck!
Are you looking for some extra help with HSC Chemistry?
We have an incredible team of HSC Chemistry tutors and mentors!
We can help you master the HSC Chemistry syllabus and ace your upcoming assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby or the Hills!
We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational HSC tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!
Tanna Nankivell is a Senior Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is currently in Germany completing a year of study for her double degree in Communications (Journalism) and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies). She has had articles published on Central News – the UTS Journalism Lab and wrote a feature piece for Time Out Sydney during her internship. Tanna has a love for travel and the great outdoors, you’ll either find her on the snowfields or in the ocean, teaching aqua aerobics or creating short films.