Sixth-form a-level-chemistry

IB: Group 4 -- Experimental Science

Chemistry: Higher & Standard Level

What could this course lead to?

The course provides a firm foundation for further study of chemistry but also provides knowledge and skills which are valuable in other university courses such as Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Geology and Engineering.

GCSEs required

Ideally grade B in dual award Science, and while mathematical requirements are not too demanding you may struggle if you did not achieve at least a grade B at GCSE.

What will I be studying?

The course has a body of chemical knowledge together with scientific methods and techniques which students are required to learn and apply. In their application of scientific methods, the students will learn to analyse, evaluate and apply chemical knowledge.

Are there any trips or extracurricular activities linked to this course?

In the Lower Sixth students spend a day carrying out experiments in the under-graduate laboratories at Bristol University.

What benefits does this subject have for university entrance?

The course provides a firm foundation for further study of chemistry but also provides knowledge and skills which are valuable in other university courses such as biological sciences, biochemistry, medicine, veterinary science, geology and engineering.

What skills or learning approach do I need for this subject?

The course will be challenging but stimulating and rewarding. You will need the ability to think logically, to apply concepts to unfamiliar situations and to make links between scientific ideas. Chemistry is an experimental science so practical work represents a significant proportion of the course so you must enjoy experiments.

How does the Higher Level differ to the Standard Level?

The course is divided into core topics which are studied by Higher Level and Standard Level students and additional higher level material studied by Higher Level students only. The additional material for Higher Level students takes some of the core topics and covers them in greater depth.

Core topics: Stoichiometry. Atomic theory. Periodicity. Bonding. States of matter. Energetics. Kinetics. Equilibrium. Acids & bases. Oxidation & reduction. Organic chemistry. In addition students study one option chosen by the teacher from the following list:

  • Materials
  • Biochemistry
  • Energy
  • Medical Chemistry

How is it examined?

The course will have a substantial practical element and coursework which comprises internally assessed experiments contributing 24% of the overall assessment. The written assessment is at the end of the course and has three papers:

  • Paper 1 has multiple choice questions.
  • Paper 2 has short answer questions and two extended response questions.
  • Paper 3 has questions on the optional area of study chosen by the teacher as well as practical skills.

Will I need to do coursework?

Yes. Coursework makes up 24% of the assessment.

Examination method

Three written papers forming 76% of the total mark. The remaining 24% is from assessed practical work.

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