Do you ever get the feeling of dread when your teacher says “Right your homework is to revise for a test next week”?

Do you know where to start or do you just stare at your exercise book hoping you will just absorb all the information on the page?

Does your teacher give you additional details on what to cover and where to look?

Here we discuss five important questions we think you should always ask (and they can be used for ALL the science subjects!).


(1)  Which chemistry topics will be included in the test?  (You need to know if there are any topics from previous years that we haven’t studied recently).

You need to make sure you know the specific chemistry topic you are being tested on so you know exactly where to start with your revision. Once you have this I would recommend writing a list of all the keywords and checking that you know what each one means and that you can use each of them correctly in a sentence. 


(2)  Are there any equations that I need to learn for this test?

Asking about equations will help you know which ones are important for this topic. Make sure you learn the general one for the topic you are covering and then examples of that equation. So if your test is on acids and alkalis make sure you know the general equation for neutralisation and can write examples of this with the three different acids (Hydrochloric acid, Sulfuric acid and Nitric acid). Then it is worth testing yourself to make sure you can write these out from memory. 


(3)  How long will the test be?

It is always good to know how long the test will be as this will be an indication of how many questions there are and whether you are going to have many long answer questions you need to prepare for. If it is a short test there are likely to be only one or two mark questions. If the test is mainly one mark questions you need to remember to read the question carefully so you follow the instructions. These questions can often involve box-ticking or line drawing and sometimes you need to do two things to gain one mark. This will always be highlighted in bold. 


(4)  What do you recommend I use to support my revision?

By asking this question you can get a recommendation on resources that will help, including chapters or page numbers or websites and this will cover everything you need to know. This helps in case you didn’t record everything in the lesson or in case you missed any key ideas. Using other resources also makes your revision more interactive and means you are not just left with your exercise book to read. You can also ask which chapter in the revision guide you should be using as well, this will have practice questions and answers too which will help you get used to test style questions. 


(5)  Will there be any long answer questions?

If you know there are long answer questions, it is worth asking for examples of them. Many students find these hard to answer, and often think they have answered part of it when they have just rewritten the actual question to introduce the question (this is not worth any marks and can fool you into thinking you have made a good point when you reread the question). Try and make sure you don’t fall into that trap. When revising it is a really good idea to try answering some example questions worth 3-6 marks and then checking them against the mark scheme. Often there are key terms that must be included in the answer and that can make the difference with overall marks.



Tests can be intimidating and scary and it is important not to panic. The best way to approach any of your science tests is to prepare well and practise answers. Often it is not enough just to read over your notes, you need to be able to apply that fact in context and sometimes link facts together. For example, when answering a longer question on states of matter and particle arrangement, it is not enough to say all the particles are touching, you need to explain they are touching and are in a fixed regular pattern and only vibrate about a fixed point.


Don’t forget that we have many science lessons available on our YouTube channel.  These videos also have worksheets to help support your learning.   Why not check out one of our earlier Spark an Idea Blog – “How to Gain Marks in a Tricky Science Question” which will also help you in any upcoming tests or exams.



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