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Chemistry Exams Preparation and Writing Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts

We have conducted extensive research in reputable universities and colleges offering chemistry-related courses. Our study revealed that students must possess problem-solving skills and thoroughly understand the subject-specific concepts to attain excellence in their tests. Also, students who want to score the best grades in their exams must consider their habits of studying, test writing prowess, and time management skills. Undoubtedly, most instructors spend more time discussing these ideas than the course concepts.

We know that every chemistry student dreams of securing the best grade on their tests. To boost your chances of achieving this feat, we have presented unique tips in this article. Our strategies major in test writing and preparation tips for graduates and undergraduates. It is no secret that university chemistry courses are more demanding and have a mammoth workload. For this reason, students need to learn from their past test experiences. Reflecting not only allows you to identify the areas you are conceptually struggling with but also polish your exam writing skills and manage exam stress.

Your instructor might have already discussed some exam preparations and writing tips. However, we want to remind you that these tips are essential for future academic success. Without further ado, here are the dos and don'ts of preparing and writing any chemistry exam.

How to prepare for a chemistry test

It is important that you give yourself the best chance of doing well in a test. It would be best to consider the following things when preparing for an upcoming chemistry exam. We have highlighted some of them below:

The Do’s

  1. Use your course outline, handouts, and every posted information as a guide for your test preparation.
  2. Most instructors usually list the details of the exam in the course outline. It might provide useful information about when the exam will take place and the topics to be assessed in the test. Also, professors rarely test concepts they have not covered in class and in handouts. For this reason, you should try practicing the problems in the course textbooks and handouts. There is a high chance that the exam questions might come from there. Remember to use only the allowed aids like the scientific calculator, equations sheet, molecular model kit, etc., when practicing. You must study and research more if you cannot solve the problems in the handout or the assigned textbook. Do not sit for a test if you have not practiced applying the concepts taught in class. The results will be disastrous. You can use your class notes, teaching assistant, or textbook book solutions for your practice.

  3. Revise at least two past chemistry exams on the same course
  4. Some professors allot the same exam twice. You might be lucky if you revise multiple past exams on the same course. In most academic institutions, past papers are readily available in the library or faculty office. The best thing about assessing yourself using past exams is building your confidence. However, you should only revise old exam questions if you have already gone through your lecture notes and all the other materials provided by your professor during the semester. The past papers shouldn't replace your classwork because some of them do not cover the topics taught by your professor.

  5. Know the test location ahead of time
  6. Some students have missed taking exams simply because they didn't know the location. Be sure to know if the test will be in the laboratory or in class. It is not just the location but also the materials and tools required for the exam like your school ID, a working pen and pencil, a calculator, etc. Missing these items at the last minute can cause you anxiety and panic. It would help if you went to the exam room when you are 100% prepared. This might sound obvious but remember that some of these materials may not be at your disposal in the exam room.

  7. Rest and eat well
  8. It is important that you go to the exam room when you are fresh. So, ensure that you eat well and get enough sleep. Drinking lots of fluids may minimize your stress levels and boost your mind. Do not neglect your well-being. A chemistry exam is just an event; there is life after it. Poor health may affect your performance when you write your chemistry test. If you are not feeling well, inform your instructor early.

The Don’ts

  1. Studying a couple of hours before the exam
  2. One of the worst exam preparation techniques is trying to master the concepts on exam day. Leaving things until the last minute will leave you anxious and panicking. Studying all the concepts taught in class in just a couple of hours is impossible. You will be jeopardizing your grade and academic career. It would be best if you always started preparing for the exam early.

  3. Go to the exam room early and start discussing concepts with your friends
  4. Chemistry is one of the most difficult subjects. The atmosphere in the exam room is always tense. Discussing the notes and concepts with your mates before the exam will make you doubt yourself. Someone may bring up a topic that you hadn't studied well. Also, you might be confused with their definition of the concept.

Strategies to use when writing your chemistry exam

You have already prepared for the exam, and you feel confident. The D-day is finally here. So, what strategies can you employ to earn that top grade you have been dreaming about?

The Do’s

  1. Time management skills will come in handy
  2. Proctored exams are often timed. If you are doing the exam online, the software will automatically submit what you have done when the time is up. It is essential that you manage your exam time effectively. Do not waste time on tough chemistry exam questions you struggle to answer. Start with the simple ones. Most exam rooms usually have clocks. Similarly, online platforms have timers. It is easy to know the time left. Calculate the time you should take on each question by dividing the allotted time by the number of exam questions.

  3. Read all the instructions before you embark on writing the test
  4. Do not start solving the problems before reading the instructions. The rules of writing the exam will give you an insight into what is expected. Some instructions even specify the number of questions that you should answer.

  5. Go through each question carefully before answering
  6. Make sure you read and understand what is being asked before answering. Exam questions normally have a keyword that hints at the concept that should be applied. If it is a multiple-choice question, go through all the possible answers. Eliminate each choice with a reason. Think carefully before settling on an answer. Remember, you might not have enough time to review all your answers.

  7. Take advantage of bonus or extra credit questions
  8. Bonus questions can boost your grade. They are normally straightforward, mainly based on something related to your course, like the name of your professor or the textbook used for the course. It would be best if you never overlooked these questions.

  9. Be neat and precise with your answers
  10. Every assessment aims to prove to your instructor that you understood the concepts taught in class. It is important to ensure that your solution can easily be understood and read by your instructor. If you are balancing chemical equations, make sure the calculations are neat. Similarly, be precise with your explanations.

The Don’ts

  1. Never panic
  2. Although exams define your future, please do not treat them as a do-or-die affair. Even the most brilliant and well-prepared students struggle with their chemistry exams. Panicking and sweating a lot may limit you from thinking. If you notice that you are getting anxious, channel your inner self. Deep breathing can calm you down. Start by answering the questions that you know their answers to boost your confidence.

  3. Leaving the exam room or submitting the test before time elapses
  4. Do not leave the exam room early. If you finish writing the exam before time elapses, take time to go to review your solutions one by one. You might notice the errors you made while rushing to complete the test early. Use the time allotted to you wisely.

  5. Failing to answer a question
  6. Leaving a question blank is unacceptable. Some instructors are generous with points. You can get partial marks for just attempting a question or almost correct responses.

  7. Writing unneeded information
  8. Be precise and to the point. Do not create your question and answer it. Irrelevant information will not add any value to your solution. You might end up losing crucial time for answering other questions. Always include the important points or concepts in the first line of your explanation.

What you should do after writing your chemistry exam

Now you have completed the exam and submitted the solution. Here is how you should carry yourself out:

The Do’s

  1. Reviewing the exam questions and answers
  2. It would be best if you didn't do this immediately after the exam. Instead, wait for a couple of days or after the test results are back. You can access the answers from your professor and try to understand where you went wrong. It would also help if you considered your professor's reviews. Use the exam as a tool to hone your knowledge and exam writing skills. Part of attaining academic success is not making the same mistake twice. Remember, your professor might assess you again on the same topic in the final examination. Forgetting about the exam or tossing the paper away can cost you a learning opportunity.

  3. Reflect on what worked for you
  4. If you passed the exam, you should reflect on the tips and strategies that worked for you. Was it revising past papers or forming discussion groups? The same tips might work for you in another exam. Also, the strategies may reveal your strength. Use these tips to identify the areas that you should improve.

  5. Get help from your professor or classmates
  6. Some chemistry topics, such as the mole concept and organic chemistry, are complicated for most students. However, your professor and brilliant classmates can offer much-needed help. If you do not understand a concept, take time to talk to your instructor. They might offer tips on how you can master the topics you are struggling with. Better still, talk to one of your mates who excels in the subject. Your classmate might explain the concept to you better than your classmate.

The Don’ts

  1. Do not dwell on the past
  2. Failing in a chemistry exam can hurt, especially if you gave it your best shot but still fluffed. Dwelling on what you did wrong in the exam will not change your marks. Dust yourself and maintain a positive attitude. One of the best things about education is there is always a second chance. If you are not satisfied with your grade, you could ask your instructor for another chance to write the exam. Regretting and feeling bad about yourself can affect your self-esteem.

  3. Losing your focus
  4. Students pursuing chemistry-related cases are often assessed multiple times. For example, you might have to write two mid-term tests and a final examination. All these three tests make up the weight of your final score. Performing poorly or well in the first exam will not define your final score. You still have to pass the other two exams. It would be best if you did not lose focus. Continue with your usual studying and exam preparation strategies. You might have won the battle but not the war.

  5. Making wishful thinking
  6. Students love building castles in the air. Things will never change for the better magically. If you do not attain the expected grade, do not hesitate to fine-tune your studying and test-writing skills. It is up to you to take the necessary measures to improve your marks. Any student who wishes to succeed in their exams can do so.


The cut-throat competition in the academic sector makes it imperative for every chemistry graduate and undergraduate to be proactive in improving their exam performance. Every student wants to attain a good grade. Instructors have also changed the tack. The exam questions are now more intricate than they were before. Therefore, students must use effective test-taking skills to maximize their chances of passing. Our research revealed that chemistry students who use the strategies and tips mentioned in this article had noticed a significant improvement in their test scores. Do not be left behind.

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