IB Chemistry Overview

By Luke Palmer

(Head of Math and Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science and ESS tutor at The Edge Learning Center)

What is IB Chemistry IB Chemistry Periodic Table

With the start of the new year, many students are taking IB mock tests in preparation for their IB diploma exams this May. A student must take six different subjects across a range of disciplines, the group four topics are the sciences, one of which is Chemistry. The IB Chemistry syllabus has a good range of topic areas with each taken into sufficient depth to gain a serious understanding. The topics covered go over areas such as atomic structure, periodicity, chemical bonding, chemical kinetics, energetics, and equilibrium to build a solid level of fundamental understanding. This is then built on by additional theory covering acids and bases, redox potentials, organic chemistry, and analytical techniques. There are two levels of IB chemistry, standard level (SL) and higher level (HL); all the topic areas are covered by both levels, but the HL will cover go into much greater depth. The final component of the content is the option topic, every student needs to study one of four choices (this is assessed only in paper three). The four choices are, (i) Materials, (ii) Biochemistry, (iii) Energy, and (iv) Medicinal Chemistry. All have focused in different areas and other science choices might make the section to cover easier, for example for students that also take IB Biology the obvious choice would study Biochemistry as large parts are already covered in IB Biology syllabus.

The paper structures

The ways in which IB assess Chemistry is three papers and an internal assessment. The internal assessment would have been carried out already, being a project based on a “wet” or “dry” practical, it would account for 20% of the final grade. The three papers breakdown as follows; Paper 1 multiple choice questions (MCQs), Paper 2 short answer questions (SAQs) and Paper 3 Lab/data based section and option topic SAQs.

Paper 1 MCQ

Paper one for SL is 45 minutes with 30 MCQs (20% of grade) and HL is 60 minutes with 40 MCQs (20% of grade). This paper will cover the core topics with a standard frequency of questions, starting with topic one through to topic eleven. This is a non-calculator paper so the math in the questions will be simple and likely will be down to rearranging formulas. With over a minute a question this should give you enough time to cover the easier questions and review back over those that you find harder.

Paper 2 SAQ

IB Chemistry Paper two for SL is 1 hour 15 minutes with several SAQs (40% of grade) and HL is 2 hours and 15 minutes with SAQs and extended response (36% of grade) This paper is much tougher than paper one as it requires you to be able to construct answers that hit the required knowledge from content covered and any data provided. These questions will cover multiple topic concepts and so displays that topics interrelated nature. This time calculators are allowed, and there will be several points that data will be used to get answers. The best advice for these questions is to make sure you show all working, even with slight mistake sometimes an error can be carried forward and get you more marks. You are provided with the Data Booklet, this has a large number of helpful formulas, data and major trends in the periodic table. Some questions will directly reference a table to use to answer the question, but the key to using the data booklet is not to rely on it and end up wasting too much time searching through it.

Learn more about the IB Chemistry Data Booklet

Paper 3 Practical and Option Topic

Paper three for SL is 1 hour with section A data-based question and SAQs, then section B with SAQs on the option topic (20% of grade). HL is 1 hour 15 minutes with section A data-based question and SAQs, then section B with SAQs on the option topic (24% of the grade). Again, as with paper two calculators are allowed (especially important for data based question) and the data booklet is also provided. The answer style again must be well-constructed answers that give the concept points clearly and answer aspects of the question. Section A will be using familiar experiments that would have been carried out or discussed during the two years of IB Chemistry, and so should not pose many problems. The option questions are where you could get tripped up, the content in these topics is rather large and to a good depth. This makes it important that you work hard on understanding the contact, as the only small amount can be covered in four to five questions.

Ways The Edge Can help

IB Chemistry ExamHow The Edge can help you get ready for these mocks or the final exams, we have an option from regular courses or intensive courses covering all the core topics for both SL and HL. We also have option workshop that can help you get your head around the in-depth content within the tricky option topics. Also, there is the possibility of taking a diagnostic assessment test, this will see which topics you are weak in and make a tailor-made set of lessons to boost your ability to handle the various types of papers. Final option and one of the most useful is power series, a set of mock papers under timed conditions with review session with one of our experienced Chemistry tutors. If you are planning to take mocks or final exams in may just contact our team and see how we can help you out.


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