QCE Chemistry: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving an A


As I’m sure you already know, achieving an A in QCE Chemistry is no small feat.

It will require you to work harder, smarter, and stay motivated for a much longer period of time than you’ve had to before. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

Whether you’re concerned about how to study for the Data Test, or how to structure the Research Investigation, I have some tips, tricks, and things to consider that will help you achieve your very best. 

Keep reading to find out more!

IA1: The Data Test
IA2: The Student Experiment
IA3: The Research Investigation
EA: The External Exam

IA1: The Data Test

Unit 3 Chemistry Data Test Practice Questions - Featured Image

The Data Test is the first of your summative internal assessments. It is written by your teachers and can take place either late Term 4 Year 11 or Term 1 Year 12 depending on your school.

It can contain anywhere from 2 to 4 data sets with questions that will require you to interpret data sets in order to produce a short response and/or conduct calculations using appropriate algorithms.

As it’s only worth 10% of your overall grade it may seem relatively insignificant, but it’s never a bad thing to get off to a good start! 

Question types generally consist of the following: 

  • Titration Curve questions: interpreting acid/base curves, completing related stoichiometry questions 
  • Electrode Potential questions: predicting electrochemical cells, completing related stoichiometry questions
  • Equilibrium Curve questions: interpreting equilibrium curves, completing related RICE calculations

Especially considering that your teacher will write the exam, you can expect the Data Test to be one of the more straightforward assessment pieces you will have in QCE Chemistry.

How can you best prepare for the QCE Chemistry Data Test?

The main thing to remember about it is that it’s not necessarily testing your knowledge, so it’s not a big deal if you don’t know all the theory inside out. Rather, it’s assessing your ability to apply your understanding of the content to analyse and interpret data to identify trends and draw conclusions.

This means that the best way to prepare for the Data Test is by doing practice questions and practice tests. There isn’t much variation in the types of questions you could see on your data test, so for this exam, practice could actually make perfect (100% scores are not as rare as you’d think!). 

If you’re looking for Data Test practice questions or a practice Data Test to complete, check out the QCE Unit 3 Chemistry Data Test IA1 – Practice Questions!

IA2: The Student Experiment

Attentive schoolgirl experimenting in laboratory

The Student Experiment is essentially a research report based on an experiment that you have conducted. The purpose of a Student Experiment is to refine, extend and/or redirect an existing experiment in order to answer a new, but still related, research question.

Once the experiment has been conducted and the required data has been gathered, the data is then processed, analysed and, if possible, used to draw conclusions to answer your research question. The findings of your experiment and all the research and analysis you’ve conducted is presented in the form of a 1500-to-2000-word scientific report.

It’s worth a decent chunk of your overall grade (20%), but it is absolutely possible to get those top marks. 

How can you best prepare for the QCE Chemistry Student Experiment?

The good thing about the Student Experiment is that it is, in essence, very similar to the general science experiment reports you would have done in previous years. The structure in particular is quite generic, which always makes a task much easier to start.

Coming up with a well refined, extended and/or redirected experiment that will allow you to successfully collect meaningful and accurate data and really set you up for success. Accurate and consistent data will enable you to identify trends, patterns and relationships that insightful conclusions can be drawn from. 

The rationale, modifications to methodology, identification of trends/patterns/relationships, identification of uncertainty and limitations, discussion of the validity of the experimental process, and suggested improvements and extensions sections are the biggest opportunities to gain marks in this assessment.

Be thorough with your explanations and provide theories, formulas, and other forms of evidence whenever possible to support your argument!

For more information on how to write your Student Experiment, check out The Definitive Guide to Writing a Student Experiment Report for QCE Chemistry.  

IA3: The Research Investigation

Young chemist working in the lab

The Research Investigation is a scientific essay in which you evaluate a given claim. This is achieved through researching, analysing and interpreting secondary evidence to form a justified conclusion about the claim.

Your secondary sources must be scientifically credible, and can include research articles, scientific news articles, data compilations, educational resources and more.

The findings of your experiment and all the research and analysis you’ve conducted is presented in the form of a 1500-to-2000-word scientific essay. Just like the Student Experiment, it’s worth 20%!

How can you best prepare for the QCE Chemistry Research Investigation?

The Research Investigation and Student Experiment are actually quite similar in their purpose. For both assessment pieces you’ll develop a research question, which your report will be based on.

But instead of collecting the data yourself, for your Research Investigation you’ll be sourcing evidence from high quality sources to identify trends/patterns/relationships, identify limitations, discuss the quality of the evidence, and suggest improvements and extensions to your investigation.

The Research Investigation is also slightly less structured, which can mean that it’s trickier to write but it will give you more freedom. 

Again, having a specific and relevant research question that will also allow you to collect strong evidence will be crucial. Sourcing your information from credible and relevant sources will also be important to the validity of your evidence and thus your interpretations and discussion.

Another big tip is to link everything back to the research question, especially your evidence. And if you’re finding it tricky to do so, then maybe it’s not so relevant. 

For a more comprehensive guide on how to write the Research Investigation, see The Ultimate Guide to Conducting a QCE Chemistry Research Investigation!

EA: The External Exam

Writing on White Paper - Chemistry External Assessment Featured Image

The final hurdle! The External Exam is worth a considerable 50% of your final grade, so it will have a huge impact on it.

This can be super stressful to think about, but with the right preparation, you might even see it as a great opportunity to show off everything you know as opposed to a big scary exam!

How can you best prepare for the QCE Chemistry External Assessment?

#1: Routinely revise content

As the exam can cover any and all content from Units 3 and 4, leaving revision until a few weeks before the exam just won’t work. The key to acing the External Exam is to integrate revision time into your study routine.

Not only will routinely revising help you remember previous concepts, but it will make learning new concepts easier as you can make the connections between concepts faster.

#2: Treat your mock exam like the real thing

Making the most of the mock exams is also quite important. Not necessarily for the questions themselves (mock exams are somewhat notorious for having different questions to the actual exam), but to gain an understanding of what it will be like on the actual exam day.

If you know what to expect going into the exam, this will reduce a lot of the stress. Usually, the most stressful part of exams is not knowing what to expect, so if you at least know what it will be like in terms of timing, environment etc. all you have to worry about is the actual questions on the paper.  

#3: Do your best in your internal assessments

It’s also generally a good idea to bag as many marks as you can for your internal assessments. As your internal assessments are written by your teachers, you’ll have much more support in terms of guided revision and structure that won’t be there during your External Exam.

Make the most of this guidance and put in maximum effort for your internals as your External Exam can be much more unpredictable and can’t necessarily be ‘relied on’ to boost your Chemistry mark. 

For many more tips on how to ace your Chemistry External Exam, check out How to Ace Your External Assessment for QCE Chemistry!

If you’re after practice questions or practice tests for the External Exam, check out some below:

  1. QCE Practice Questions for Unit 3 & 4 Chemistry External Assessment 
  2. QCE Multiple Choice Practice Questions for Unit 3 & 4 Chemistry External Assessment  
  3. Download QCE Chemistry Practice Exam for External Assessment Revision
  4. The Comprehensive List of QCE Past Papers, Guides, Tips and Info

Are you looking for some extra help with revising for QCE Chemistry?

We have an incredible team of QCE Chemistry tutors and mentors!

We can help you master the QCE Chemistry syllabus and ace your upcoming Biology assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

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 QCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!

Yalindi Binduhewa is an Art of Smart tutor based in Queensland and was part of the very first cohort to go through the ATAR system, so she knows exactly how fun and enjoyable it can be. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Medical Imaging (Honours) at QUT and is loving it. When she’s not doing uni-related stuff or tutoring, she’s hanging out with her friends, rewatching a show for the 100th time, or trying out new crafty projects and discovering that she doesn’t have a talent for everything.

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