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GCSE Chemistry - Revision

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Assessment Type


% of Course




Paper 1: Atomic structure & periodic table; Bonding, structure and properties of matter; Quantitative chemistry; Chemical changes; Energy Changes

Written Exam

1h 45m


Paper 2: The rate & extent of chemical change; Organic chemistry; Chemical analysis, Chemistry of the atmosphere; Using resources

Written Exam

1h 45m


Revision strategies

Where do I Start?

There is a lot to learn in Science, especially when you are taking Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate GCSEs. That is why you need to start your revision early and organise your time. The first step is to get your hands on the syllabus for each subject. All the Science course specifications are extremely useful, because they provide clear definitions for terms you must be familiar with and tell you which examples, processes and practicals you need to remember in detail.

Go through the syllabus to work out the bits you are most and least confident on. If you are unfamiliar with any subject content, look it up in revision guides or using the internet

You can find your Chemistry specification here.

Specific revision strategies

  • Make spider diagrams / mind maps
  • Make notes – but not too many. Don’t just copy out text, read a paragraph and summarise it.
  • Use flashcards/formula cards.
  • Use diagrams, flow charts, equations and formula triangles to help you visualise ideas in different ways.
  • Review key terms, and definitions to ensure you are confident with these as you will need to use the correct language in the exams.
  • Regularly review ideas and test yourself on these
  • Ensure you learn and can use the physics equations you will need for your exams.
  • Don’t forget to revise the required practicals as these will also be in your exams. Make sure you are confident in the methods, and skills used practical work including drawing graphs, analysing data, interpreting variables, drawing conclusions and evaluating.

Revision areas

Paper 1

Unit 1: Atomic structure and the periodic table
  1. Atoms, elements and compounds
  2. Mixtures
  3. The development of the model of the atom
  4. Relative electrical charges of subatomic particles
  5. Size and mass of atoms
  6. Relative atomic mass
  7. Electronic structure
  8. The periodic table
  9. Development of the periodic table
  10. Metals and non-metals
  11. Group 0
  12. Group 1
  13. Group 7
  14. Properties of transition metals
Unit 2: Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter
  1. Chemical bonds
  2. Ionic bonding
  3. Ionic compounds
  4. Covalent bonding
  5. Metallic bonding
  6. The three states of matter
  7. State symbols
  8. Properties of ionic compounds
  9. Properties of small molecules
  10. Polymers
  11. Giant covalent structures
  12. Properties of metals and alloys
  13. Metals as conductors
  14. Diamond
  15. Graphite
  16. Graphene and fullerenes
  17. Bulk and surface properties of matter including nanoparticles
  18. Uses of nanoparticles
Unit 3: Quantitative chemistry
  1. Conservation of mass and balanced chemical equations
  2. Relative formula mass
  3. Mass changes when a reactant or product is a gas
  4. Chemical measurements
  5. Moles (HT only)
  6. Amounts of substances in equations (HT only)
  7. Using moles to balance equations (HT only)
  8. Limiting reactants (HT only)
  9. Concentration of solutions
  10. Percentage yield
  11. Atom economy
  12. Using concentrations of solutions in mol/dm3
  13. Use of amount of substance in relation to volumes of gases
Unit 4: Chemical changes
  1. Metal oxides
  2. The reactivity series
  3. Extraction of metals and reduction
  4. Oxidation and reduction in terms of electrons (HT only)
  5. Reactions of acids with metals
  6. Neutralisation of acids and salt production
  7. Soluble salts
  8. The pH scale and neutralisation
  9. Titrations
  10. Strong and weak acids (HT only)
  11. The process of electrolysis
  12. Electrolysis of molten ionic compounds
  13. Using electrolysis to extract metals
  14. Electrolysis of aqueous solutions
  15. Representation of reactions at electrodes as half equations (HT only)
Unit 5: Energy changes
  1. Energy transfer during exothermic and endothermic reactions
  2. Reaction profiles
  3. The energy change of reactions (HT only
  4. Cells and batteries
  5. Fuel cells
Required practical activities
  • Required practical activity 1: Preparation of a pure, dry sample of a soluble salt from an insoluble oxide or carbonate.
  • Required practical activity 2: Determination of the reacting volumes of solutions of a strong acid and a strong alkali by titration.
  • Required practical activity 3: Investigate what happens when aqueous solutions are electrolysed using inert electrodes.
  • Required practical activity 4: Investigate the variables that affect temperature changes in reacting solutions.

Paper 2

Unit 6: The rate and extent of chemical change
  1. Calculating rates of reactions
  2. Factors which affect the rates of chemical reactions
  3. Collision theory and activation energy
  4. Catalysts
  5. Reversible reactions
  6. Energy changes and reversible reactions
  7. Equilibrium
  8. The effect of changing conditions on equilibrium (HT only)
  9. The effect of changing concentration (HT only)
  10. The effect of temperature changes on equilibrium (HT only)
  11. The effect of pressure changes on equilibrium (HT only
Unit 7: Organic chemistry
  1. Crude oil, hydrocarbons and alkanes
  2. Fractional distillation and petrochemicals
  3. Properties of hydrocarbons
  4. Cracking and alkenes
  5. Structure and formulae of alkenes
  6. Reactions of alkenes
  7. Alcohols
  8. Carboxylic acids
  9. Addition polymerisation
  10. Condensation polymerisation
  11. Amino acids
  12. DNA
Unit 8: Chemical analysis
  1. Pure substances
  2. Formulations
  3. Chromatography
  4. Identification of common gases
  5. Identification of ions by chemical and spectroscopic means
Unit 9: Chemistry of the atmosphere
  1. The proportions of different gases in the atmosphere
  2. The Earth's early atmosphere
  3. How oxygen increased
  4. How carbon dioxide decreased
  5. Greenhouse gases
  6. Human activities which contribute to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  7. Global climate change
  8. The carbon footprint and its reduction
  9. Atmospheric pollutants from fuels
  10. Properties and effects of atmospheric pollutants
Unit 10: Using resources
  1. Using the Earth's resources and sustainable development
  2. Potable water
  3. Waste water treatment
  4. Alternative methods of extracting metals (HT only)
  5. Life cycle assessment
  6. Ways of reducing the use of resources
  7. Corrosion and its prevention
  8. Alloys as useful materials
  9. Ceramics, polymers and composites
  10. The Haber process
  11. Production and uses of NPK fertilisers
Required practical activities
  • Required practical activity 5: Investigate how changes in concentration affect the rates of reactions.
  • Required practical activity 6: Investigate how paper chromatography can be used to separate and tell the difference between coloured substances.
  • Required practical activity 7: Use of chemical tests to identify the ions in unknown single ionic compounds covering the ions from sections Flame tests to Sulphates.
  • Required practical activity 8: Analysis and purification of water samples from different sources, including pH, dissolved solids and distillation


Past papers

It is vital you do past papers and mark them yourself. Exam practice is important as the examiner will want to see you can apply the scientific ideas you have been studying, and past papers will show how this is done. Follow this link to access Chemistry past papers.