Summer holidays are finally here! While it’s a time to celebrate the end of a hectic year, it is also a great time to catch up and prepare for the second term of HSC Chemistry with a summer holiday HSC Chemistry study guide!

To help give you a head start, we’ve designed a straightforward and useful HSC Chemistry study guide to get you prepared! 

Our 6 week HSC Chemistry study guide will help you with study preparation, catching up on first term content and moving ahead to second term topics. 

Don’t have 6 weeks to spend studying? No sweat! This can easily be condensed into a 4 week plan, as the first week will only take you a day and week 6 is just relaxing!

So let’s dig in!

Week 1: Planning 
Week 2: Catching up 
Weeks 3 & 4: Learn the content!
Week 5: Study one week ahead of class 
Week 6: Take a break! 

Week 1: Planning 

The first step to success is making a plan. While it may sound like a lot of work, it’s actually quite an easy process!

Give yourself one or two hours to sit down and write up a timetable. You’ll be back to celebrating your first week of holidays in no time! 

Step 1: When will you be studying? 

During my HSC, I often found myself procrastinating whenever I didn’t allocate myself a specific time and day to study. To tackle this, it’s always good to draw up a rough study schedule. 

Pro-tip: In addition to committing one day to each subject, try allocating a specific time period to study for each subject. This will improve your self-discipline and accountability to start studying.

While you can certainly study every single day of the summer holidays, it’s a recipe for stress and burn-out, so it’s not recommended. It’s always best to study with proper breaks!

So, my best advice is to give yourself a maximum of four hours to study each day, making sure you dedicate one or two days each week to relax.

Pro-tip: Try to start studying in the morning at around 9am to 11am. Your mind will be much more attentive during the start of the day. Plus, you have the whole afternoon to reward yourself after completing your revision!

Your study schedule might look like this:

Download your own study timetable for your summer holiday study plans below!

Step 2: What do you need to study? 

I used to make the mistake of focusing on how much time I spent studying, rather than what dot points I’d actually mastered during my study session. 

Ever since I shifted my focus to what topics I should be studying, I noticed that my marks improved heaps!

This is why I really really advise you to familiarise yourself with the HSC Chemistry Syllabus and prioritise the dot points in the order of what you’re most confident on and least confident on. 

Here’s how you do it:
  1. Download and print out the HSC Chemistry Syllabus 
  2. For each inquiry question, label the dot points from most confident to least confident. 

Rate each dot point from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Oh crap, I don’t understand this dot point.” to 5 being “Pssh, I can get full marks on this in my sleep”.

It should end up looking something like this:

HSC Chemistry dot point knowledge rating

Once each dot point has been ranked, ensure that the topics labelled 1 are prioritised for study and incorporated early into your schedule, with those labelled 5 left for later. 

Since you’ve only covered Equilibrium and Reactions in your first term of Year 12, that’s the only module you need to work on for now!

Pro-tip: Try writing additional questions you’ve had about that particular dot point so you can refer to them later and consolidate your understanding! 

Step 3: Where will you be studying? 

Study location can be very important, especially when finding a perfect ambience for your brain enter “study-mode”. 

For me, I like to move around because I can get tired after staying in one environment. I’ll be writing notes in my room one day, then doing past papers in the kitchen or studying in the library on other days. 

While this worked for me, I know it can vary for other people. 

So, try out your library, your local cafe or even the corners of your home! Find your perfect study space that helps your brain focus and enter “study mode” whenever you sit in that spot. 

Week 2: Catching up 

While many of us aim to get our work done and dusted by the end of the year, the reality is that there’s almost always work leftover to do during the holidays. 

And we don’t blame you! It can be real tricky juggling assessment tasks, work and life all at the same time. This is especially difficult when you’re still learning new content during your school term. 

That’s why the end of year holidays are the best time to catch up on content you may have missed during your term!

Priority #1: Catching up on missed work 

It’s totally normal to have some class work to catch up on that you might have missed or didn’t have the time to consolidate. 

The best way to catch up is to ask your classmate what they’ve learnt during class and what work or homework they’ve been given.

For chemistry practicals, feel free to ask your lab partner about their results and how it relates to the dot points of the module. If they’re unsure or can’t remember, it never hurts to try emailing your teacher. 

Most importantly, invest your time in catching up and mastering the content you’ve missed.

This means understanding and knowing how to apply concepts in real life situations or practicals.

If you’re still struggling, always try asking your friends or emailing your teachers. 

Priority #2: Completing your study notes 

Now that you’ve completed all your work from Term 1 HSC Chemistry, it’s time to consolidate your knowledge through a solid, straight forward set of study notes.

This will help you remember or even apply what you have learnt in Term 1 of HSC Chemistry into Term 2, extending your mastery in Chemistry.  

To make your own set of notes, use textbooks, class notes or even information online to write your notes in a way that you can understand them. 

Unfortunately, students who skip making study notes for Term 1 often find themselves neglecting or even forgetting what they’ve learnt in Term 1 once they become preoccupied by the new topics in Term 2.

And once half-yearlies roll in, they not only lack notes, but also struggle to recall what happened in Term 1! 

So make sure you’re on top of your study notes from the very beginning!

Weeks 3 & 4: Learn the content!

Now you know what, when and where to study, the next thing to do is to actually do it! 

I suggest working through Module 5: Equilibrium and Acid reactions from the first topic to the last.

You can check out our guides for each of the HSC Chemistry modules below!

If you need to review concepts from HSC Chemistry, make sure you head over to HSC Together here which has FREE video resources explaining concepts within each syllabus dot point!

In each topic, start out with the dot points labelled 1 then work your way through to the dot points labelled 5. This ensures that you’re spending enough time and energy on the topics that you have trouble with the most. 

NB: This study schedule does not include all dot points. You study schedule will include all dot points in the order you have placed them in Week 1.

Here’s what your HSC Chemistry study guide might look like in practice: 

Week 3: 

10am to 12pm: Work on Static and Dynamic Equilibrium topic. 

  1. Analyze non-equilibrium systems such as combustion and photosynthesis. What is entropy? What is enthalpy? 
  2. Investigate the relationship between collision theory and reaction rate in order to analyze chemical equilibrium reactions. What is collision theory?

1pm to 3pm: Work on Factors that Affect Equilibrium and Calculating the Equilibrium Constant (Keq) topic. 

  1. How does activation energy affect the position of equilibrium? 
  2. Study the interaction between nitrogen dioxide and dinitrogen tetraoxide (practical) and how the Le Chatelier principle applies to equilibrium shift due to changes in temperature, pressure and concentration 

Week 4: 

10am to 12pm: Calculating the Equilibrium Constant (Keq) topic

  1. How do I use Keq to explore the dissociation of ionic solutions? The dissociation of acids and bases? 
  2. What is the effect of temperature on Keq? 
  3. Perform calculations to find the value of Keq and concentrations of substances within an equilibrium system, and use these values to make predictions on the direction in which a reaction may proceed. 

1pm to 3pm: Solution Equilibria topic 

  1. Practice predicting the precipitate formation using Ksp values 
  2. Investigate how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders use the solubility equilibria to remove toxins from food 

Practice Questions

Make sure you use practice questions to truly master the content!

This is extremely important for Chemistry students as it not only helps you remember content, but it also prepares you for difficult calculations and written response answers that requires effective communication! 

Pro-tip: Always mark your answers so you put yourselves in the markers shoes and see what they want, or do not want. 

Lucky for you, we have composed a lot of HSC Chemistry Practice Questions that you can use to test yourself found here!

Week 5: Study one week ahead of class 

For many high achievers, their key secret to getting an ATAR of 98+ is studying one week ahead of class! 

“But wait, isn’t that redundant? Wouldn’t we be learning this in class anyways?”

In fact, no, not at all. It’s an effective way to learn the topics because when your teacher goes through them in class, it’ll act as a revision session. 

Plus, as you’re one week ahead of class, you’re essentially more prepared as you have consolidated the content twice more than your classmates who will be learning the content for the first time. 

You’re also in a better position to ask questions, as you’ll be asking questions to clarify content you would have learn independently.

So how do you work one week ahead? 

Your HSC Chemistry study guide might look something like this:

Day 1: 

10am to 12pm: Work on the first dot point from Acid/Base reactions: Properties of acids and bases

  • Investigate the correct IUPAC nomenclature and properties of common inorganic acids and bases 

1pm to 3pm: Work on the second dot point from Acid/Base reactions: Properties of acids and bases 

  • Conduct an investigation to demonstrate the preparation and use of indicators as illustrators of the characteristics and properties of acids and bases and their reversible reactions. 

You can always use your school textbook or online sources to help you learn the concepts and rules behind these dot points. Be sure to make study notes as well! 

Remember, you don’t need to fully master or understand the content all by yourself at this stage.

Working ahead is meant to help you become familiar with the content before you go through it with your class and your teacher!

Week 6: Take a break! 

After all the weeks of studying, it’s finally time for your well-deserved break before you start your final three terms of high school. 

Do not underestimate the importance of taking a break!

Many students who work too hard in Term 1 through the holidays to Term 2, often find themselves burnt out before the HSC examinations even start! 

So, make relaxing and celebrating your holidays part of your HSC Chemistry study guide!

At the end of your holidays, you will feel much more prepared, mentally and physically to tackle on your last three terms of HSC at your best. 

Good luck!

Looking for some extra help with HSC Chemistry?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC Chemistry coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!


Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administrated a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.