3 techniques to excel in your O-level Biology and Chemistry

Tip #1: Content memorisation

Once you are a master at memorising content, its half the battle won. Firstly, memorisation should never be done at late nights. After prolonged nocturnal study sessions, reasoning and memory would deteriorate.

Secondly, you should ensure that you highlight keywords in the notes that your biology tutors or chemistry tutors provide you with. The reason behind this simple act is to remind yourself that those are the marking points that examiners look out for, to award you with marks. By flagging out key terms, you would subconsciously tell yourself that those points have to be present in the answer you write for related questions.

Thirdly, write out important essays and ensure that key words are incorporated. With the advent of technological devices like laptops, you might be tempted to type out your notes but writing is what activates your muscle memory. Continue writing and rewriting your essays and ensure that in every draft, the number of mistakes you make are reduced. Usually, at about the 4th or 5th attempt, you would have perfected your essay.

Fourthly, especially if you are a visual learner, incorporate pictures into the summary notes you make or draw small pictures next to the notes that your tutors provide you with. Interlinking visuals with written content would help your brain better store information and recall them quickly when required.

Another technique is to use a mnemonic devise like acronym sentences. By grouping items into an acronym, it allows your brain to hold onto larger amounts of information which aids in long term memory. An example would be, Please Stop Calling Me A Cute Zebra” which represents the metal reactivity series of Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Carbon and Zinc.

Lastly, memory retention declines over time. To avoid this, make sure you dedicate your time for revision. For example, if you happen to study an essay on pupil reflex in response to bright and dim light, revise it every 2 days initially, and then space it out even further with longer days interval.

Tip #2: Create Mind maps

This is an excellent technique that gives you a macro perspective of what you are learning. Linking key concepts is important especially since the kind of questions set for O levels is all about out-of-the-box thinking, subtle linking of concepts (ex. Linking electrolysis and metal reactivity) and presenting noble scenarios. Good conceptual understanding enables you to tackle all kinds of questions.

Don’t forget to get creative in creating your Mind maps with lots of colours and pictures that will also ensure that your learning process is fun and engaging!

Tip #3: Identify your learning gaps

It is crucial to understand why you make your mistakes and ensure it does not repeat. Create a list of the mistakes you tend to make and read through them. You will then make a conscientious effort to not commit the same mistakes gain. Another technique is to try explaining concepts (ex. The cardiac cycle) in your own words. If you are unable to do so, it means you have not understood the concept yet. This is when you should seek immediate help from your school teachers, home tutors or even watch educational videos online which explain concepts in a step by step manner.