GCSE Chemistry Test Format: What to Expect on the Day

If you’re the type of student that gets anxious before exams, then this post is for you. We’ve put together an overview of what to expect from your GCSE chemistry tests alongside some tips for exam day. Knowing what papers you’ll sit and how they’re scored can help you feel more at ease as you make last minute preparations.


Let’s start of by looking at the main topic areas that you’ll be assessed in. In GCSE chemistry, there are ten subjects that are covered over two test papers:


  1. Atomic structure and the periodic table
  2. Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter
  3. Quantitative chemistry
  4. Chemical changes
  5. Energy changes
  6. The rate and extent of chemical change
  7. Organic chemistry
  8. Chemical analysis
  9. Chemistry of the atmosphere
  10. Using resources


GCSE Chemistry Test Paper 1


In the first test paper, you’ll be asked questions on the first five topics, i.e. atomic structure and the periodic table; bonding, structure, and the properties of matter; quantitative chemistry, chemical changes; and energy changes.


The test lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and will be written. You’ll either take the paper at the Foundation or Higher tier and it will be marked out of 100. Test paper 1 contributes towards 50% of your overall GCSE chemistry score.


There are four question types in the paper: multiple-choice, structured, closed short answer and open response. You’ll be asked to answer a combination of these throughout the test.


GCSE Chemistry Test Paper 2


The second test paper focuses on the last five topics, so you’ll be asked questions on the following: the rate and extent of chemical change; organic chemistry; chemical analysis, chemistry of the atmosphere; and using resources.


Like paper 1, the test lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and is written. You’ll either take the paper at the Foundation or Higher tier and there will be 100 marks available. The second paper contributes to 50% of your GCSE chemistry score.


Again, you’ll be asked to answer a combination of questions in any of the following formats: multiple-choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.

For more information on the GCSE chemistry test format, please visit the AQA website.


Our Tips for the GCSE Chemistry Tests


Tips for GCSE Chemistry success


Although there’s no substitute for a well-planned revision schedule, there are actions you can take on exam day to improve your performance. At Exam Papers Plus, we specialise in helping students prepare for their GCSEs and we’ve collected some tips that we believe can help you make the most of your time on exam day.


  • Write out any formulas and chemical equations that you struggle to remember and read them up until you enter the exam room. When the test begins, write them out on a separate sheet of paper so you’ll have them to hand.


  • Make a point of identifying the type of question that you’re answering. Identifying an open response or a closed short question can help guide you towards how the answer should look.


  • Be extra-vigilant to ensure your answer will be awarded the maximum number of points. If you’re unable to identify where a point will be awarded in your answer, you may need to extend it. For reference, you can read the AQA’s mark schemes for GCSE chemistry, here.


  • Make the most of your time between test papers. If you feel you need to relax, find somewhere quiet to clear your head. Alternatively, if you feel you need to get into a new mindset for the second paper, you may want to read through your revision notes.


  • Try to stay calm and focused throughout. If you get stuck on a question, let it go and move on. Sometimes focusing on questions you know the answers to first can help with your flow. Return to any missed questions at the end.


  • Try to leave yourself with ten minutes to spare at the end of each paper to review your answers. You should always assume that you’ve made a mistake somewhere and try to find it. Double check that you haven’t misunderstood any questions or misread any numbers or figures.


GCSE Chemistry Practice Tests


One of the best ways to put theory into practice with GCSE chemistry is to introduce practice papers early in your revision. At Exam Papers Plus, we help students prepare for their GCSEs through our Chemistry Packs.


As well as being useful for charting progress, they help students become familiar with the type questions they may be asked in the exam. They can also help students improve their time management skills, particularly if they find themselves struggling to complete tests papers within the allocated time.


While creating our chemistry packs, we thoroughly analysed GCSE reports from previous years to make sure our questions cover all the topic areas of the exam. We’ve also included some more challenging questions that we know students usually struggle with.


Parents can rest assured that our GCSE packs are tried and tested. Each pack has been written and developed by former chemistry examiners and markers. They focus on the key skills that students need to develop to perform well in higher tier GCSE exams and they include detailed step-by-step answers and mark schemes for every question. Each question is labelled to identify the relevant exam boards.


We’d highly recommend the following resources to boost confidence in GCSE chemistry tests:



GCSE Chemistry: Key Skills



All of our GCSE packs are available immediately after download.



Related posts:

How to Revise and Practice for the GCSE Chemistry Exam


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