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A-Level Chemistry

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Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry is an engaging science concerned with the composition, structure and properties of matter, as well as the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions.

Students acquire deeper knowledge of the world around them, by gaining an understanding of phenomena such as:

  • Why ice floats in water
  • The processes and reactions that take place to convert crude oil into many useful substances such as medicines, plastics and dyes
  • Why does water dissolve sugar but not petrol
  • The role chemists are playing in the development of a sustainable society, from biofuels to hydrogen fuel cells
  • The vital role of catalysts in the chemical industry
  • How vast molecules like proteins hold their complex shape, vital for biochemical processes in the body

Chemistry is a popular subject at Chelsea Independent College, attracting bright students who are keen to extend the knowledge they acquired at GCSE. Frequently they progress to top universities to read subjects such as Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, Engineering and Material Science. It is a highly respected qualification, the study of which enables students to not only become more knowledgeable of the world, but also to gain important problem-solving skills which
can be applied to many areas of life.

What is covered by the course?

A Level – Year 1 , Edexcel Code: 9CH0

  • Atomic structure
  • Shapes of molecules and intermolecular forces
  • Enthalpy changes
  • Mole calculations
  • Bonding
  • Organic chemistry – alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and halogenoalkanes
  • Oxidation and reduction
  • Reversible reactions
  • Kinetics

A-Level Year 2 , Edexcel

  • Energetics 2
  • Kinetics 2
  • Reversible reactions 2
  • Acids and bases
  • Transition metals
  • Redox equilibria
  • Organic chemistry 2 – carbonyls, carboxylic acids, esters and nitrogen containing molecules
  • Analytical chemistry

How is it examined?

Assessment overview

Paper 1 – Will include multiple-choice, open-response, calculations, and short open and extended writing questions. (1hr 45mins; 90 marks)

Paper 2 – Will include multiple-choice, open-response, calculations, and short open and extended writing questions. (1hr 45mins; 90 marks)

Paper 3 – Questions mainly on experiments. May include multiple-choice, open-response, calculations, and short open and extended writing questions. (2hrs 30mins; 120 marks)

All exams are sat at the end of the second year.

Practical laboratory work

In order to be awarded a Pass, students must complete at least 12 core practical investigations, during which time they must develop a set of practical techniques, such as the ability to follow complex technical procedures, understanding how to select and use specialist apparatus, how to work safely, and how to gather, analyse and report experimental data.

iGCSE – Year 1 , International (9-1) Edexcel Code : 4CH1

Section 1 – Principles of Chemistry

States of matter

  • Elements, compounds and mixtures
  • Atomic structure
  • The Periodic Table
  • Chemical formulae, equations and calculations

Ionic Compounds

  • Covalent substances
  • Metallic crystals
  • Electrolysis

Section 2 – Inorganic Chemistry

  • Group 1 (alkali metals)
  • Group 7 (halogens)
  • Gases in the atmosphere
  • Reactivity series
  • Extraction and uses of metals
  • Acids, alkalis and titrations
  • Acids, bases and salt preparations
  • Chemical tests

iGCSE – Year 2 , International (9-1) Edexcel

Section 3 – Physical Chemistry

  • Energetics
  • Rates of reaction
  • Reversible reactions and equilibria

Section 4 – Organic Chemistry

  • Introduction
  • Crude oil
  • Alkanes
  • Alkenes
  • Alcohols
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Esters
  • Synthetic polymers

How is it examined?

The Edexcel iGCSE (9-1) in Chemistry comprises two externally assessed papers:

  • Chemistry Paper 1
  • Chemistry Paper 2

Paper 1 is a 2-hour examination set and marked by Edexcel. Total marks = 120 and represents 66.7% of the total qualification marks. Grades available are A* - G. Paper code = 4CH1/1C

Paper 2 is a 1-hour examination set and marked by Edexcel. Total marks = 60 and represents 33.3% of the total qualification marks. Grades available are A* - G. Paper code = 4CH2/2C

Related university courses and careers?

Chemistry A-Level can open the door to university courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Pharmacy and Biochemistry.

Potential subsequent career choices include medical doctor, vet, chemist, material engineer, pharmacist, vaccine and medicine developer and environmental scientist.

Suggested reading:

A-Level Chemistry Text Book, 4th edition – Eileen Ramsden

Edexcel A-Level Chemistry Student Book 1 – Graham Curtis, Andrew Hunt and Graham Hill

The Mole student chemistry magazine available on the Royal Society of Chemistry website

New Scientist magazine