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The rate of a reaction is the number of successful collisions occurring between reactants within a certain amount of time. It is determined by the collision theory. This theory states that for a reaction to occur the particles must collide with sufficient energy and at the right orientation. Imagine putting a key into a lock either backwards or with barely any energy to turn the key – the door just wouldn’t be unlocked!



Increasing the temperature of a reaction increases the rate of reaction. The heat energy is converted into kinetic energy in the particles. More kinetic energy means that the frequency of collisions between particles increases because they’re moving around much faster. This increases the frequency of successful collisions.
(In Biology, enzymes in the body denature at high temperatures so in this case the rate of reaction wouldn’t increase as temperature increases past an optimum.)

rate of reactions


Increasing the pressure of a reaction involving gases increases the rate of reaction.
This is because it forces the gas particles to be closer together and are more likely to collide successfully. More successful collisions lead to a faster rate of reaction.



A catalyst provides an alternative route for the reaction to occur at a lower activation energy. This means that less energy is required for the reaction to occur. Therefore, the frequency of successful collisions increases, and the rate of reaction increases.



Increasing the concentration means there are more particles in a particular volume. If there’s more particles, then it increases the chances of successful collisions occurring. Increased successful collisions means greater reaction rates!


Surface Area:

Increasing the surface area of the reactants increases the number of exposed particles that are available to react. As a consequence, the number of successful collisions increases and the reaction rate increases.

surface area

Exam Tips:

If you haven’t already noticed from all the repetition, the keywords or phrases in this topic are:
Reaction rates/Rate of Reaction
Frequency of successful collisions
Activation energy
Examiners are specifically going to be looking out for these keywords and phrases as it shows you understand the topic well – make sure you include them in your explanations!

Click here for a really good website for A Level Chemistry practise papers and topic homework.
Click here to watch a Youtube video by TED Education on Rates of Reaction.

Have a look at our blog post about revision techniques!


Having recently completed my A Levels and achieving 3 A*s, I’ve decided to share some of my revision tips that worked for me and hopefully they’ll work for you too!

  1. Past Papers

Many people use past papers as part of their revision, but how many are using them effectively?
Firstly you need to create a list of all the past papers available for the subject you’re revising. For example, search ‘AQA Biology GCSE Past Papers’ on Google, if you don’t know the exam board you’re using then ask your teacher. It can be an innovative idea to create a table with each paper available so you can tick them off as you go along, helping you to see your progress.

Complete about 10/15 minutes of the paper (not suitable for essay questions) or a handful of questions. Use a different coloured pen and mark the completed questions. It’s important to annotate any corrections required using the exact wording from the mark scheme.

On a separate piece of paper, write out any questions you have dropped marks on. Continue to complete the rest of the paper using this method. Once you have finished, go back to the list of questions you have written out on the separate piece of paper and answer underneath without looking at the mark scheme. Hopefully, by learning from your mistakes you will be able to answer these much better a second-time round.

Find out the grade boundary for the paper and record your results. In the beginning, past papers will take a long time to complete as there will be lots of mistakes, this is great! More mistakes mean more room for improvement!

If you’re struggling with certain topics in the paper, it’s a good idea to look back at your revision guide and notes.

  1. Revision Posters

Posters are a fantastic way to consolidate your knowledge. After finishing a topic in class, my advice would be to create an A4/A3 poster with all the knowledge needed in note form. Use as many resources as possible: class notes, revision guides, websites, YouTube videos and the specification. Going through the specification for each topic is a great way to make sure you’re not missing out on any information – it tells you exactly what you need to know for your exam. These can be started right from the beginning of the year, so by the time exam season comes around, you’ll have a stack of revision posters ready. This technique helped me piece together all the information I’d been taught in class to see the bigger picture.

Posters can be made to suit you – whether handwritten using lots of colours or pictures; drawing out creative mind maps; or using a computer if you prefer. I personally made my posters on a computer, here is an example.

  1. Revision Cards

Revision cards are the answer to getting your family and friends involved in your revision, hopefully they’ll make it a little less tedious. I’ve found that the best way to use revision cards was to write out a simple question on one side and the answer on the other. This way, you could get a family member/friend to read the question out and check if you got the answer right. Recalling knowledge is a good foundation for answering exam questions. You could make separate bundles for different subjects and topics.

  1. Know Your Specification

The specification for a subject is the long list of all the information and knowledge you need to learn for the exam. They vary between different exam boards so it’s important you know the exam board you’re learning. Try using this example to find yours online: ‘AQA English Language GCSE Specification’. When exam season comes, it’s a good idea to print off the whole specification and use it as a checklist. Highlight, annotate and draw pictures around the specification to help you revise. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to know what’s in your specification! I used mine throughout the year to make sure I had learnt all the right things.

  1. Post-it Notes

Post-it notes are useful to help remember small bits of information you regularly forget or get mixed up about. Stick them up around the house in places you regularly go past, maybe in your bedroom, the kitchen, even on a mirror in the bathroom! It would certainly make for some interesting decoration! Once you’ve learnt the information and it’s stuck in your mind, take down the post-it and replace it with a new one. To make it more interesting you could use lots of colours or pictures, maybe use different post-it note colours for different subjects?

  1. Create a Good Revision Environment

Revising is certainly not the most fun activity, but unfortunately it has to be done! Productivity in your revision can be increased by having a good environment to work in.

      • Good lighting. Straining your eyes in the dark or squinting in fluorescent light can often lead to headaches – find a good middle ground that suits you.
      • Quiet environment. If there’s lots of noise and distraction going on around you it’s easy to be led astray – a calm and quiet environment will keep you more focused.
      • Tidy desk. Organise your work space so that you have all the resources you need in front of you and nothing else! Piles of useless paper, empty wrappers or makeup scattered over your desk aren’t exactly going to help you revise.
      • Water and healthy snacks. I’d recommend having snacks during your revision breaks to keep your energy levels up. Staying hydrated will benefit your brain so much!
      • Suitable music. If listening to music helps you concentrate then go for it! During my exams, I found classical and film soundtracks (Try ‘The Theory of Everything’ soundtrack) the best to listen to. I also found myself listening to music in a foreign language – as long as I couldn’t sing along I stayed focused!
      • No phone. Unless you’re using your phone for revision, don’t go on it! There’s plenty of apps available to stop you using it: try out ‘Forest: Stay Focused’.

Organise Your Time

There are plenty of study planners available online to help you organise your revision timetable –  https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/g/planner is one option you could try out. Or just printing out a weekly timetable and filling it in by hand is another great idea. I started my revision from September for my A levels and achieved 3 A*s, so starting early is never a bad idea. Personally, I found it hard to stick to revision timetables and I’ve tried a fair few times! If I couldn’t start on time for one reason or another, then I got a bit flustered and just didn’t start at all – not very helpful! My ‘plan’ was to not have a plan. When it was time to revise, I just sat down and worked through as much as I could do. I sometimes made a tick list for the day/week as to what I needed to do but didn’t set specific time-slots. This helped me feel more relaxed and less tied up in a timetable. However, this method is not for everyone as you need to be very motivated to begin with, you could try lots of different study plans and see which one works best for you. I remember watching a YouTube video about someone who revised for 8 hours a day – something I wasn’t even close to. If you’re capable of that then I’m very impressed at your self-discipline, it’ll certainly pay off! But you need to remember not to compare your revision strategies to others, as everyone works in different ways.


If you’re in college or sixth form, you need to use your free periods to do work. I could probably count on my hands how many frees I had that weren’t in the study centre. Even if I didn’t have a lesson first thing, I would still be in sixth form and working from as early as 7:30 during exam season (gross, I know!). I did this because I found it hard to work at home with so many distractions around so I’d stay late as well to do all my work and then when I went home I didn’t do any work at all.

  1. YouTube Videos

Mixing up your revision resources will keep you from getting bored. There’s a whole host of revision videos at your fingertips, just get searching!

Have a look at the video in our rates of reaction blog.


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