Tag Archives: study skills

How to Make Time for 100 Days of Revision

Revision Timetable for GCSE studies
A well-planned revision timetable

Students who aim for a Study Score of 42 or above complete at least 20 practice papers for each subject they’re studying and correct them critically before examinations begin. High-achieving students print these 20 practice papers and make a detailed revision schedule before full-time revision sets in.

Learn how to make a quality revision timetable here.

Twenty practice papers, with proper correction and revision of theory, require 20 days to complete. A student studying 5 VCE subjects therefore needs 100 Days of Revision before their examinations begin.

VCE exams begin on October 28th, 2015, and 100 Days of Revision therefore begins on July 20th, 2015 for students who want to excel. Most schools plan to finish teaching Unit 4 at the end of August, which is just 40 days before the final examination. Forty days allows you only 8 days of revision for each of your 5 VCE subjects, and this simply isn’t enough practice for students who want to excel.

The best way to make time for 100 Days of Revision is to study Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 during this upcoming Easter Holiday.

In this upcoming Easter Holiday, by yourself, or with the help of a home tutor, you can study the topics that your school has planned to teach after July 20th, 2015. Typically, this is Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 (Chapters 23 to 28 in the Heinemann Chemistry 2 textbook). By studying this topic early, you’ll save time later in the year, which will allow you to complete 20 practice exams per subject instead of using that time to learn new theory.

Easter Holiday Tutoring 2015

If you want to learn Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 this holiday, and free up your homework schedule later in the year, get in touch for a short-term set of tutoring sessions in April 2015. I am offering new students a short-term Easter Holiday tutoring package for $300.

The $300 tutoring package includes:

  • Chemistry Unit 3 & 4 diagnostic test;
  • Quizzes based on knowledge areas that need to be improved upon (as identified in the diagnostic test);
  • Three home tutoring sessions of 2 hours each, which includes:
    • Critical review of the student’s homework answers;
    • 1-to-1 teaching of Unit 4 Area of Study 2 (Chapters 23-28) with homework exercises and quizzes;
    • Answering any Chemistry questions the student has accumulated while doing homework exercises.
  • Personalised Chemistry study timetable for the whole year; and
  • 24/7 email and phone support for the duration of the Easter Holiday.

The program includes 6 hours of home tutoring and requires 15 to 18 hours of self-study to be completed by the student during the holiday.

Get ahead in Chemistry this Easter. I am available for VCE Chemistry tutoring on the following dates and times.

Monday 30th March 2015 to Friday 3rd March 2015: 9am – 5pm daily
Monday 6th April 2015 to Friday 10th March 2015: 9am – 5pm daily

*UPDATE: I am now fully booked for the 2015 Easter Holiday. Fill in the contact form below to enquire about term-time tutoring at evenings and weekends.

Request VCE Chemistry tutoring using this online form.

More information about my tutoring services can be found here.

Significant Figures: 6.0 Rules


Significant figures tell you how accurately a number is known. This invariably depends on the precision of your instruments.

To illustrate this, use a pencil and a ruler to draw a square with sides of 8.109435 cm in length. Now, calculate the area of the square that you’ve drawn.

A ruler can only measure length to within ±0.1 cm. Our square therefore has sides 8.1 cm in length (not 8.109435 cm) because our measurements are limited by the accuracy of the ruler. The area of our square is therefore 8.1×8.1=66 cm², not 65.762936019225 cm², because there was no way to measure all of those decimal places precisely using a ruler.

Accurately-known digits are known as significant digits. All other digits are described as not significant. We must always round our final answer (not the intermediate steps) to the correct number of significant digits by following the six rules below.

1. Numbers without a decimal point

  1. First non-zero digit is significant
  2. Last non-zero digit is significant
  3. All digits in-between are significant
  • 45 is to 2 significant figures (s.f.)
  • 1,240 (3 s.f.)
  • 68,686,000 (5 s.f.)

2. Numbers with a decimal point

  1. First non-zero digit is significant
  2. All digits afterwards are significant
  • 1.2 (2 s.f.)
  • 6.810 (4 s.f.)
  • 900,001 (6 s.f.)

3. Scientific notation

Scientific notation is a way of writing numbers in the form:

a × 10 where 1 ≤ a < 10.

Count the number of significant figures in a to find the number of significant figures in the number (a × 10b).

  • 5.56 × 103 is to 3 significant figures
  • 2.012 × 10-4 is to 4 significant figures

4. Conversions

Some unit conversions are exact and are said to have an unlimited number of significant figures.

  • 1 minute = 60.0000000000… seconds (infinite s.f.)
  • 1 metre = 100.0000000000… metres (infinite s.f.)

Temperatures usually have 3 (sometimes 4) significant figures when converted into Kelvin!

  • 10°C = 283 K (3 significant figures)
  • 100°C = 373 K (3 significant figures)
  • 4000°C = 4273 K (4 significant figures)

5. Addition and subtraction

Rule: Always round your final answer (not any intermediate answers!) to the smallest number of decimal places.

  • 441 + 65.42 = 506 (use zero decimal places)
  • 200.1 – 144.2456 = 55.9 (use 1 decimal place)

6. Multiplication and division

Rule: Always round your answer so it has the same number of significant figures as the input value with the smallest number of significant figures.

  • 481.56 × 14.5 = 6980 (use only 3 s.f.)
  • 7800 ÷ 41.1 = 190 (use only 2 s.f.)

Remember to round your ANSWER (not the intermediate steps) to the correct number of significant figures.

Questions? Comments? Still confused? Leave a message in the comments below. I’ve tried to make sig figs as simple as I can in this post.

More great resources:

Crash Course Chemistry Explains All!

Best VCE Further Maths Revision Method

This is what ideal exam revision looks like.


For the tiles on your wall:

  1. Number all the bullet points in the Study Guide/syllabus.
    (There are 50 bullet points in VCE Further Maths)
  2. Make an A5 tile that represents the essence of that bullet point in a colourful graphic.
  3. Compile them in numerical order and stick them on your wall.

This improves your content knowledge (i.e. makes sure you’re familiar with the entire syllabus).

For the practice at decoding the exam:

  1. Do all the past exam papers you can find under exam conditions.
    Limit yourself to one exam per day.
    Look up and use the posters to help you answer the questions (if needed).

This improves your exam skills (i.e. makes sure you know how the examiners tend to phrase their questions, and gets you used to writing with a pen under timed conditions).

VCE Further Maths sheet 1 VCE Further Maths sheet 2VCE Further Maths sheet 3…and that’s it!

If you make posters based on the syllabus, then complete all the past exam papers before the exam, then you’ll maximise your potential and get a pleasant surprise on results day.

Click the posters above to download them. They’re my examples for your inspiration.

Good luck!

Mind Mapping: Tea Categories

I dream at night, during the day, and in colour. I carry an A4 pad with me everywhere I go (even to the park or the market) and make notes on whatever enters my mind when I’m awake. I make notes as mind maps for everything.

Mind-maps help me think. The best essays I wrote in Cambridge, the best speeches I’ve given and the best lessons I’ve taught also started as mind-maps. All were made on a thick, ring-bound A4 pad at varying times throughout the day.

Here’s one I typed up. It’s a collation of many smaller maps I made while reading about Chinese tea culture.

The best mind mapping software for Mac is undoubtedly iMindMap 5It’s available here for 14-days completely free of charge.

All The Tea In China, India and Africa
All The Tea In China, India and Africa. Click to enlarge it considerably. © James Kennedy, 2011

Every node here has a much deeper meaning than I’ve written down. Reading every piece of information on this mind map reminds me of the book that contained it, where and when I read it (and can subsequently recall most of the books). Mind maps thus carry individual meaning to the person who made them. They prevent plagiarism and make our own thoughts more clear.

Lastly, but most importantly, mind mapping look really impressive. Even if it’s only for this reason, I encourage my students to map all their university assignments on paper before writing. Mind mapping looks sophisticated and intimidates everyone else.

I’ve also been using the Reminders app for iPhone recently. There are many disadvantages compared with an A4 pad (it’s small, fiddly and only does linear bullet-lists) but it does give you one major speed-advantage: it fits in your pocket 🙂