Discussing the use of IB Chemistry Data booklet

By Luke Palmer

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


When studying IB Chemistry, there is a range of topic areas and concepts that need depth of data and information that is impossible to commit to memory. To this end IB Chemistry provides a handy resource in the form of a data booklet for papers two and three. Within this booklet there is information on periodic trends, energy values for bonds, enthalpy and entropy values and key formulas. Though a vital tool, it must be used wisely else too much time could be wasted searching for small details. This blog aims to give advice on how to use the data provided and what really should be committed to memory.

Read more about Chemistry in Luke’ previous blog “SAT Chemistry Subject Overview”  

The first two sections of the data booklet and key formula and physical constants. These are important information and some are more relevant than others, depending on the option choice for paper 3. From the relevant equations section for the core it should only needed in relation to the variations of the Arrhenius equation. The other equations should be easy to recall when needed. It is nice to have a safety net but the recall and application of the formulas should be second nature. The physical constants also will be useful to have if forgotten, but the vital ones should be easily recalled for use and the data book not needed.

The next few sections are useful to have if needed to clarify a detail, but should not be required in most questions within these papers. The sections covering the trends are almost never used in questions for physical values, and so the trends being remembered and that will answer most questions.

The data about bonds such as length, strength, and thermodynamic properties are useful to have but not going to use all the time. Most questions that need information for these sections will be referenced in the question itself. Yet information on spectrochemical series and ligand structure could be important to solidify ideas and concept of transmission.

Acid and base strength are given in a tricky way in the form of pka or pkb. This relies on the student to remember the trend and its application in various question settings. Also likely if required would be asked to reference the correct table, especially for choice of indicator’s.

The information in form of activity series and reduction potentials could prove to be vital if a question arises in designing a voltaic cell. This idea is largely not done and most of the time the relevant potentials will be given by the question. The analytical techniques peak identity tables are likely to be the most important table in the whole data booklet. Regularly there will be a question of two or more techniques being used to identify the compound being looked at, so with these tables that can score many points.

The final set of tables are information that relate to specific options and so can come in handy for tricky paper 3 questions. Also the second column of key equations from first table are linked to specific options and likely to play a role, although they are rarely required.

In conclusion with reference to the use of data booklet, it should be a safety net for the vital information the student should have in memory. An important tool when a question directs you to a given table, as that information will always concern details that would not be sensible to learn in the IB Chemistry time frame. In short, the data booklet should be barely used and then only when directed, this cuts down the time wastage for question answering. The best way is to do practice exercises that get the trend and constant information well established and reduce the need for the data booklet.

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