Your school-leaving exams and university entrance exams are no small ordeal, and preparation for them starts months – maybe even years ahead of the actual sitting.

If you are in your last year of secondary school or the interim phase of your academic career, meaning you are preparing for your high school exams, you must be subjected to so much pressure: to study, to choose your subjects, to earn good marks.

Of all of the information available to today's students in the digital realm, the traditional manual still stands out as one of the best, most reliable resources for studying any subject, including chemistry.

What are the advantages of books over other media?

  • Books tend to be organized so that the material flows sequentially, from one topic to the next, until their logical conclusion, after everything has been covered.
  • Compare that to web pages that actually encourage skipping around from site to site by providing links to ever more material – how confusing!
  • Books make it easy to track your study progress; they give you a physical and visual indication of how far along you've come in your studies.
  • In the endless parade of online materials, it is hard to determine if you've started at the beginning or middle of your subject matter, and the end is never in sight!
  • Books permit highlighting or otherwise marking important points for future review – without you having to frantically search for where you placed that bookmark, and why.
  • Books are ultimately accessible: no need for a WIFI connection or a charged battery. (you will need a light source come nightfall, though, if you plan to study after dark.)
  • Nothing says 'I'm serious about my studies' like poring over the open pages of a book, possibly with a neon-colored marker in hand.

Do you agree with this assessment?

In this article, Superprof highlights some of the best books you could find to solidify your knowledge of chemistry, some specifically meant to prepare you for exam day.

From chemical interactions to isotope counts, we aim to provide you with the broadest selection of bound study materials possible so that, come time to test, you will feel fully confident of your mastery of molecules and their composition.

Really, confidence is half the battle of successfully completing an exam, and the best way to gain it is to know your subject material cold.

So, as the saying goes: it's time to hit the books!

Hitting the books means to study
No one seems to know the origins of 'hit the books' but everyone agrees it is a good idea to do so! Source: Pixabay Credit: ThorstenF

Unless you've had absolutely no contact whatsoever with the outside world, you must have at least heard of  ChemSpider.

ChemSpider is an online educational platform that offers free online material available for individuals willing to learn chemistry.

It works as a search engine, providing relevant and authentic information about a particular chemistry topic when searched for.

To ensure the authenticity of the information provided, it is made sure that good sources and references are used.

Moreover, it also doubles as a crowdsourcing platform where chemists contribute invaluable insights and information related to chemistry.

Thanks to these efforts, the database is continuously enhanced and updated with knowledge. It is an excellent platform for students preparing for a test or wanting to brush up on their concepts

Between the covers of this most trusted study resource, you will find so much more than just words arranged in an informative manner!

Graphs, charts and illustrations flesh out this easy-to-absorb text.

Do you need an entropy chart? How about a standard enthalpy table?

You will find these, along with molecular structure diagrams and other general chemistry tables accompanying their relevant texts.

At the end of each segment, you will find exam practice questions and, interspersed throughout the text, are test-taking tips that are sure to help.

Many students shudder at the thought of chemistry as a subject and the idea of reviewing years worth of learning condensed into one focused exercise is enough to fill anyone with dread.

That is why this review guide does its best to emphasize the needed nuggets of knowledge, keeping discrete topics bite-sized and written in downright lighthearted tones.

Although the science remains the same no matter which exam you confront, some questions that feature on the OCR version of the test may not factor on the other exams.

For example, one exam may call for detailed knowledge of scientific notation. But, at the same time, another merely glosses over it, drilling down instead on bonding and the atomic structure of the various elements.

Despite its specialist theme, this review manual costs just a few pence more on Amazon; you may own it for under $8

You might also be interested in their accompanying workbooks, all of which get rave reviews.

Find out what other chemistry resources get rave reviews!

Don't let too many books ruin your study aspirations!
You should choose only a couple of reliable texts for your AP exams chemistry review Source: Pixabay Credit: Congerdesign
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AP Or High School Chemistry Revision Materials

When it comes to reviewing materials for these exams, things get a little trickier.

Again we turn to ChemSpider, our partner in learning, to find exactly what we are looking for.

New for the 2018 study year, the website features everything you need to know for either the AP Chemistry exam or high school chemistry.

Study modules are arranged in such a way that the review is progressive, from best practices in the lab to how to conduct a successful experiment.

For instance, the  study modules include a review of:

  • acids and bases
  • redox reaction
  • oxidation-reduction
  • the periodic table
  • ionization energies
  • stoichiometry
  • alkane and alkene review
  • and more!

And then, after glossing over such elementary topics such as atoms, electrons and covalent bonding, you slide right into physical chemistry, free energy and synthesis.

Year 2 review topics include, among others:

  • rates, equilibrium and pH
  • energy
  • carbonyls
  • analysis – chromatography, and spectroscopy

At the end of select study modules, you will find practice questions that cover the material you have just reviewed, and towards the end of the book, there are exercises and an answer sheet explaining why the selected response is correct.

What other chemistry revision websites are there?

Most serious scholars don't send their textbooks flying!
You may be a serious scholar even without textbooks flying around your room! Source: Pixabay Credit: 27707

Being the serious scholar that you are, you may consider a further purchase: the Advance Placement Chemistry revision workbook.

The most helpful feature of this companion paperback is its page-for-page match feature that makes it easy to reference the text as you complete the practice questions.

You will also be treated to skills-building pages the same types of questions found on the exam.

By no means are we discouraging the use of online chemistry review resources, especially as some of them are really quite useful and engaging.

In fact, making use of resources found on the web alongside a structured review guide such as any of the books featured in this article is more likely to bring you a satisfactory result than using any one resource to the exclusion of all others.

The takeaway from all of this is that you, like the molecules you so ardently strive to know, must have some sort of structure; a study arrangement preferably built around something tangible, such as a book or classroom sessions.

You may also consider review sessions with a chemistry tutor as such an event to build extracurricular studies around.

Keep that in mind as you go through your chemistry topics, study module by study module.

Good luck!

Now discover the best apps for studying chemistry on the go!

Study Tips for Chemistry Tests

Preparing for a test is stressful, especially when the subject is as descriptive as chemistry. However, with the proper techniques and tips, it shouldn't be a challenge.

All you need to do is learn how to practice the right way and know what areas to target the most.

A chemical equation solved on a glass board in a chemistry lab
To people interested in chemistry and willing to buy the best books to learn chemistry, we highly advise you to hire a tutor. Since chemistry is not that simple to understand just with books and without proper guidance, Superprof is an effective option. There are a variety of tutors available for one-to-one online sessions at affordable prices (Source: Unsplash)

Students need to acknowledge that learning starts months before the exam, not the night before. Instead, the night prior to the big day is for revisiting what you have learned so far.

However, in most cases, one night before exams, students are found under a pile of books and resources, trying to figure out complex chemistry concepts while battling anxiety with energy drinks.

If you are among these students or are trying to avoid this situation, we have just the thing for you!

Read our list of tips and techniques that will certainly help you score well on your chemistry test and ensure stress-free nights before exams.

Don't Cram

Cramming is when you try to memorize everything in the book overnight. Remember, you can not become a chemistry expert in one night.

And it's not a problem with you; it is near impossible for anyone to reach that level.

Check out online chemistry courses here on Superprof.

A student staying up late working or studying
In desperation to get good marks in chemistry, students buy the best books to learn chemistry. However, they forget the main ingredient, and that is dedication. To get good marks, you need to add commitment to your list of resources. Students who are focused and serious about their studies get good grades, not those who have good books. (Source: Unsplash)

The right way is to study one concept at a time throughout an entire unit. Get yourself the best books to learn chemistry and assess your ability to consume information in one session.

Only learn the amount of information your brain can take in at a time, not more than that. In this way, you will be able to grasp complex concepts and ultimately build your confidence.

Moreover, a common practice is to review whatever you have learned in the classroom. You don't need to re-read everything; simply skim through it for 15 minutes. This habit will undoubtedly decrease a tremendous amount of exam night stress.

Figure Out What Will Be On The Test

We don't expect you to predict what is going to be on the test. Instead, we suggest you determine which topics are the most important, have the most significance, and require the most time and effort to understand.

Unless you are a genius, you probably won't cover every concept mentioned in the book. Therefore, it is better to spend time on concepts that are expected to weigh more marks. Don't go about figuring out relatively obscure concepts that aren't likely to appear in the exam.

You can go through your study guides, refer to class notes or even discuss with the teacher to get the basic idea of what the test will entail.

The idea is to prioritize topics based on the frequency of discussions in the classroom. Then, when you can list down all of them, start by preparing for the most important ones.

Allocate Your Study Time Wisely

Unfortunately, there is never enough time to prepare for a chemistry test comprehensively. There is just so much to cover, and not every topic is easy to understand.

In addition, you are probably appearing for several other exams. Therefore you must allocate your study time wisely.

Calculate how much time you need to dedicate to other courses, know how much syllabus you need to cover, and then reserve a specific time slot for each subject.

Ensure to be as rational as possible when allocating time and don't try to over or underestimate yourself.

With a schedule, you will be more organized with your preparation, and there will be fewer reasons to pull all-lighters before the exam.

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Know The Basics First Then Worry About The Exceptions

In chemistry, there are countless complicated concepts with specific rules, and each concept comes with its exceptions.

However, students tend to forget these exceptions. For example, the configuration of electrons is easy to understand: all elements need 8 electrons to fill a valence shell. But there are instances where some compounds only need 2 electrons.

These exceptions get the best of students, and in their attempt to address these exceptions, they forget the basic concept! The trick is to keep the basic idea in the back of your mind while you go in-depth.

When you understand the concept entirely, there won't be any issues with exceptions. Therefore, you must first focus on the basics.

Essentially, it will be the core concept that contributes to more marks in exams, not the minor exceptions.

Solve Practice Problems

This one is arguably the most essential and obvious tip. Get your hands on the example problems, and keep assessing yourself!

They are easy to understand and help you comprehend each part of an empirical process. Moreover, they also come with solutions that show you the proper ways to solve them.

In addition, chemistry requires problem-solving, which can be tricky if you don't look at the practice problems and example questions.

Sometimes the guidance of the teacher and even the best books for learning chemistry are not enough to prepare you for what's coming in the test.

Therefore, it is wise to go the extra mile and find more ways to build a concrete understanding of the concept, i.e., solve practice problems!

More than that, they function as excellent reference books to help with chemistry preparation.

Don't Be Over-Confident

Confidence is the key to be successful in studies and necessarily in everything. It is also quite helpful when you are preparing for a subject as challenging as chemistry.

However, there is a thin line between being confident and over-confident, and that line tends to get blurry whenever you feel like you're making even the slightest bit of progress.

Unfortunately, if you happen to be a bright student, you have more tendency to be a victim of overconfidence.

And to avoid being over-confident, you need to have someone track your progress and give you regular reality checks. That someone could be your teacher, tutor, or friend.

Moreover, ask these people to offer constructive feedback on your progress. And while receiving said feedback, have an open mind and think about the consequences of failing!

On the other hand, it is better to start with relatively more straightforward topics and then ace your way to the top. This process will avoid your confidence seeming unfounded!

In this way, you will have confidence in your capability as well momentum on your side. Momentum can be a game-changer, especially with all the numerical problems you will be facing.

Take rests

When preparing for their chemistry exam, goal-driven students are highly motivated and excited. Hence, they start at full throttle and maintain that frame of mind.

They will study all day for two consecutive days, but then the adrenaline rush phases out. After that, they feel exhausted, demotivated, and begin resenting chemistry.

A survey conducted in 2018 indicated that more than half of teenagers (57%) in the US feel stressed because of less sleep – a standard indicator of burnout.

For that reason, overly exerting yourself in the beginning without rest and then crashing until the exams is a recipe for disaster.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to stick to your pre-decided schedule and include breaks. Keep in mind that downtime is crucial as you need to reflect on what you have learned.

Get enough sleep, give your mind a break, and remember, no amount of caffeine can make up for a good night's sleep!

Your mind is a fantastic machine, but it performs best on adequate rest. Therefore, experts suggest waking up early instead of staying up late when preparing for a test.

Test Results Are Not Discouraging

Tests result can be discouraging, especially when you have prepared a lot for it. However, they are not meant to discourage or demotivate you.

Instead, they show you your mistakes and the areas where you can improve. Tests are essentially reality checks; they rid you of the illusion of complete preparation.

Hence, try to test yourself with the most demanding practice exams to understand how far you need to go with your practice.

Check out organic chemistry tutor here on Superprof.

A student scratching his head with frustration while sitting in a cafeteria
No matter how many of the best books for learning chemistry you collect, you would find it challenging to prepare for a test without proper guidance. It is better to have some advice either from your teacher or a tutor as that makes a huge difference (Source: Unsplash)

Keep a positive attitude towards tests and test results, and remember to mark problems that posed a threat and questions that confused you.

However, please don't spend too much time lingering on test results as they are only to measure your preparation, not an actual part of your preparation. Therefore, be mindful of the time and stay on track.

Know Your Resources

If you are bad at math, you are better off not taking chemistry. You must have realized by now that most chemistry is basically math with the addition of empirical science to make it more challenging.

Therefore, we recommend you take a scientific calculator with you (if allowed). And if you don't know how to use one, watch YouTube videos or ask your instructor for help.

Moreover, learn what resources will be available to use on the test. Being aware of the resources at your disposal can make a huge difference.

For example, if you have a formula sheet, you won't have to memorize every formula, which will save valuable time. In most cases, a periodic table is also available on the test.

Online Tuitions Are Great Help

Getting yourself an online tutor is by far the most significant step you could take to improve your preparation and enhance your overall learning experience.

There are several options for online instructors that can provide crucial help. However, instead of looking for effective platforms and wasting valuable time, you can visit Superprof.

Superprof has been a leading name in the market of online tuitions. Thanks to its one-to-one interactive sessions, it has become the first choice of students all over the globe.

With a vast directory of available courses and a massive assortment of skilled and qualified teachers, Superprof provides what's needed.

Whether you aim to study linguistics, music, arts, or our favorite, chemistry, you can find expert help here. So, therefore, don't waste any more time and go back to your studies.

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Find What's Best For You

Our list may garner some eye rolls from readers, but we stand by each of our suggestions. Of course, there is a chance that some of these tips won't work for you because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

However, we highly advise you to try all of the techniques at least once and find a combination of techniques that work best for you.

The idea is to improve your overall outlook on studying anything; what better subject to start with than Chemistry?

Check out chemistry tutor online here on Superprof.

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