Every single year, exam boards create a public document written by the people who mark exam papers.
In the document, examiners tell you what the common mistakes were, where student’s missed marks, examples of what to do and past topics for that particular past paper. This is different to a past paper mark scheme as it gives you the examiners insights rather than the correct answer.
These are incredibly useful resources which give you the most valid and up-to-date information, straight from the people who decide on awarding the mark. You should use the examiner’s report as much as you possibly can! Print it off and stick it above your desk or next to your bed. Knowing what examiners have consistently awarded marks for in the past 5 years can make the difference between an A and A* – do not underestimate the power of knowledge!
In this post we will dissect the May 2017 AQA Chemistry past paper (the most recent available as of 01/04/19).
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General Statements by AQA Examiners for the Chemistry A-level past paper
The paper showered a perfect bell curve with a mean score of 45.7%. The answers were all deemed “achievable”, but some questions demanded a unique approach than in previous papers. The most difficult questions in this paper were 3.3 and 4.2. A key theme noted was that students did not take the time to properly read the question carefully – make sure you do not lose marks like this!
“ER” in this post stands for EXAMINERS REPORT/REMARKS
Multiple Choice Section B
The multiple choice section is generally easier and students gain more marks. This is because of a combination of logical reasoning (eliminating choices that can’t be correct) and guessing answers students don’t know at a 25% chance of success. In this section, the incorrect answers are named “distractors” – usually the answer gained from a common incorrect calculation or assumption.
As there are no multiple part questions in this section, we will simply state the question number and ER (Examiners report) on the same line.