5 Study Tips to Ace Any Science Exam

5 Study Tips to Ace Any Science Exam

TSA science tutor helping student with their work

Regardless of what level a student is currently at, the world of science is an endlessly fascinating subject, leading many to fall in love with it. As a student moves up in school and becomes exposed to more concepts from each of the three branches of science (Chemistry, Physics and Biology), they begin to understand how the world and the different organisms living in it function in harmony.

Still, being tested on their knowledge poses a unique challenge for many students, even the ones most passionate about science. This is because science exams generally assess one’s understanding of the concepts taught and the ability to apply learned knowledge, rather than memory work. This difference in expectations can be tricky to navigate, especially if students wish to excel in the subject. With that in mind, here are 5 tried-and-tested study tips to help you sharpen your test-taking skills.

TSA students discussing science concepts and helping each other learn

Use flashcards

Flashcards are a highly effective way to quickly learn large amounts of content because they make use of a principle known as active recall, which helps to stimulate one’s memory and retrieve important information more quickly. Students can write a scientific question (such as “Which system in the body controls gas exchange?”) on one side of the flashcard, and the answer (“The respiratory system”) on the other side. They are especially useful for learning definitions of scientific terms.

This question-and-answer format prompts students to actively search for information already stored in their memory. It contrasts with passive review, which involves consuming and processing information (such as reading a paragraph about the respiratory system) without referring to it regularly. Students who rely solely on passive review are less likely to be able to retrieve information they have previously read, as they have not trained themselves to do so.

However, it is important to remember that consistent practice is needed to reap the benefits of active recall. If students have only read through their flashcards once before the exam, they cannot expect the method to work as intended. Hence, constant revision is key to maximising the potential of flashcards and active recall as a study strategy.

Break down difficult concepts into smaller parts

Sometimes, when faced with a complicated topic, it can be hard to know where to start. In such cases, it often helps to break it down into more manageable sub-topics or sub-categories. It is often useful to think of science as a series of smaller processes: if X happens, this will lead to Y, which will lead to Z. This cause-and-effect chain allows students to learn each process in a step-by-step manner, rather than memorising huge chunks of content all at once.

Learning each sub-topic is important, but what is more important is understanding how they all link to each other. Science is the study of how the world works, so putting these smaller pieces together is like uncovering the truth a little bit at a time.

TSA science tutor giving a chemistry lecture to students

Come up with helpful mnemonics

A mnemonic is a memory tool that helps students remember important facts and large amounts of information. Mnemonics can come in many forms, but one of the most popular methods is spelling mnemonics or acronyms, where we use the first letter of each word in a series of words to create a phrase or sentence. For example, if a student wants to memorise the order of taxonomy categories in biology (Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species), they can simply say the phrase “Dear King Philip Came Over For Good Soup”.

Mnemonics like these are extremely helpful in remembering large amounts of content, because they relate facts and concepts that are difficult to remember individually to shorter strings of words and letters that are easier to memorise. Rather than repeating the phrase “Domain Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species” over and over again to commit it to memory, all students have to do is remember what each letter in the mnemonic stands for.

Mnemonic generators can help to create sentences for particularly difficult strings of letters. However, students can also stretch their creativity by coming up with their own! In fact, it may even be easier to remember a phrase or sentence that they themselves developed.

Study with friends

Forming study groups can also be hugely beneficial for many students. Research has shown that collaborative learning is often much more effective than trying to navigate the material alone. Apart from having someone else to share the experience with, students often find that being in the presence of their peers can subtly pressure them into focusing on their work.

Studying in groups can be highly advantageous to students of all ability levels. If weaker students get stuck on a particular problem, help is never far away. In addition, stronger students often find that the best way to test their own knowledge is to see whether they have the ability to explain a concept to someone else. In this way, collaborative learning can benefit everyone involved.

Setting up a study group is easy – you can ask your best friends to join a session over Google Hangout or invite your lab partners to finish a lab report together. In fact, working in groups is also a great way to strengthen existing friendships or even start new ones! Whatever option students choose, they usually find that problem-solving is much more fun when it’s done with a friend.

Hire a science tutor

If students still need extra help outside of class, a good science tutor is always on the table. Private tutors help students work through difficult concepts at their own pace, providing personalised feedback on their learning and the extra attention that they need to maximise their potential in the subject.

Here at TSA, our unique approach to science tuition has helped countless students at different levels improve their knowledge base, strengthening their foundations in science subjects and instilling a lifelong love of learning. Whether you’re looking for quality primary, secondary or junior college science tuition, TSA has the right programme for you.

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