A-Level Chemistry Explained

If you have ever wondered what happens when sugar dissolves in tea - then that is a question for chemistry. A-level chemistry studies the material world. Almost everything that we do involves some sort of chemistry, from baking a cake to recharging your phone.


Chemistry is involved in everything.


And chemistry will continue to be the forefront of providing a society needs for years to come, in everything from technology, energy use, and drug development.


A-level chemistry courses cover a wide variety of concepts, including the interaction of matter and energy, controlling reactions, the periodic table, and understanding carbon-based molecules. But that is not all that it covers, and it is fascinating.


In recent years there has been an increase in peoples who wish to study stem subjects. In particular, chemistry has grown in popularity within the UK. Specifically, within young women.


In 2018 chemistry entries saw an increase of 3.4%, that’s compared with the previous year. Chemistry's popularity is soaring, which is excellent news, and in fact, 3000 more girls took chemistry than boys at A level 2018.

What background do I need to study A-level chemistry?

Like with every subject, A-level chemistry will require you to be interested in it. And enthusiasm and commitment to hard work will make the course enjoyable. You will learn to develop all of your abilities and work very independently. This will include being responsible for your own progress.


Students that have studied chemistry at GCSE level will most likely want to take A-level chemistry. You’re going to need at least a 7 in GCSE science; this is separate sciences or double, and a good score in mathematics. You also need to be able to write very effectively using scientifically, accurate vocabulary.


A big part of A-level chemistry is the maths skills that are required, and you are usually going to be required to get a grade 5 or above in GCSE maths in order to take A-level chemistry.


At least 20% of the final mark, depending on the exam board, will require mathematics. Your teacher will be able to guide you through the maths to ensure that you understand it.


What can I expect when taking A-level chemistry?

You will need to learn the facts and build a large body of knowledge that you can apply to ideas. Topics will include calculations, so you should be comfortable rearranging equations and using numbers. Enjoyment of mathematics is not essential, but it will help.


What are the most important things to remember is that chemistry is hands-on science. So you will be regularly carrying out experiments. These experiments will help compound the knowledge that you have in your theory work. But it will also give you the opportunity to use all of the chemistry apparatus, and build your skills and confidence.


So you will be able to complete safe and accurate practical work and test out some of those chemical theories.

What can I do after studying A-level chemistry?

Chemistry A-level is one of the most highly respected A-levels. This is because it has a broad range of tested skills, and is an excellent choice for many degrees and future career choices.


You may have heard chemistry described as the centre of science, and it is often combined with either biology or physics. If you choose to pursue a career in dentistry, veterinary science, medicine, chemistry-based grades like pharmacology, biochemistry and pharmacy, then chemistry is what are you will need.


An A-level in chemistry can also lead to a good salary in later life. Not only this but often very comfortable working conditions. The Royal Society of Chemistry’s recent pay and reward survey showed that an average annual salary between 2015 and 2017 increased in most job types.


There are over 375 accredited programs offered by more than 60 universities, meaning that after A-level chemistry, there is a diverse range of places that you can go to study. As well as gaining access to a wide range of different course types.


But, isn’t A-level chemistry the hardest A-level?

There is, of course, a large jump between GCSE chemistry and A-level chemistry. And that can be quite daunting. However, that is the same for almost all of the courses. The knowledge level does increase. The content does get more complicated, but that does not mean that it is the hardest A-level.


A-level chemistry has a pass rate of 96.1%. And according to statistics, A-level chemistry is about as hard as any of the other A-level.


The most significant difference between A-level chemistry and GCSE chemistry is that you will be required to do a lot more independent study. When it comes to A-levels, especially A-level chemistry, you cannot get away with simply not doing some of your homework.  


Though, just like most A-levels, the increased frequency of independent study is expected.


What is the assessment for A-level chemistry?

OCR, AQA, Pearson, and Eduqas all offer A-level chemistry. All these courses are linear. This means that an A-level exam takes place at the end of the second year, and any internal or AS exams taken at the end of the first year do not contribute to the overall grade of the A-level.


You will be studying to do three written papers. Two of these papers will question particular topics from the two years of studying. And the third paper will be asking questions which could spread across several topics.


This will have a greater emphasis on the understanding of practical work that you should have developed during the time spent on the course.


Using OCR as an example paper one examines modules 1, 2, 3 and five, and paper two will examine module modules 1, 2, 4 and six. Thus meaning that paper three will cover all six modules.


As well as completing the history papers, which will give you a level grade, you will also need to complete 12 core practical is which your teacher will assess.


This practical mark is published as an endorsement to your A-level grade.


A-level chemistry is fun and can lead to a secure job in the future.



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