Studying Chemistry at The National Mathematics and Science College

Chemistry is an exciting, relevant and challenging science providing answers to everyday questions through a practical and problem solving approach and chemistry graduates are logical, analytical and natural problem solvers. It opens the doors to a vast array of career options. Without chemistry the world would be a very different place, no medicines to cure diseases, no toothpastes, deodorants, plastics, paints and dyes. Chemistry is all around us. A-level chemistry is currently an essential requirement for anyone planning to study medicine, veterinary science, natural sciences or dentistry at UK universities. Successful chemistry students need to be able to link key concepts and support their ideas with evidence and mathematical precision.

Throughout Year-1 students will study physical, inorganic and organic chemistry according to the AQA specification. In Year-2, the course builds upon the foundations of Year-1 by extending students’ ideas about organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. Throughout the course there will be regular opportunities for formative and summative assessment to maximise student learning and examination success.

In physical chemistry Year-1 students will explore the fundamental principles that form the basis of chemistry including moles, atomic structure and bonding, kinetics, energetics and chemical equilibria.
In Year-2 students will build upon these ideas and develop an understanding of thermodynamics, rate equations, equilibria and acids-base chemistry.

In inorganic chemistry Year-1 students will explore periodicity and have a detailed study of the chemistry of Group 2 and Group 7 elements. In Year-2 students will study the inorganic reactions of Period 3 elements and the colourful chemistry of the transition metals.

In organic chemistry Year-1 students will explore the physical properties and chemical reactions of the alkanes, alkenes, halogenoalkanes and alcohols. In Year-2 students will build on these foundations and learn about aromatic chemistry, carbonyl compounds, amines, polymers and analytical techniques used to determine the structure of organic compounds.

Chemistry is a practical subject and throughout both years students will develop an array of skills based upon experimental work completed in class. Approximately 15% of the total A-level marks available focus on practical skill competency: students are required to complete a minimum of 12 core practical activities over the 2-year course. A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. This will be assessed by teachers and will be based upon direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable by written exams.

At the end of Year 2 students will sit three written examinations. In all three papers the inorganic, organic and physical chemistry are tested with a greater emphasis on the synoptic element of chemistry (where key ideas and concepts taught throughout the course are brought together) and practical skills contribute to the bulk of assessment within paper 3.

Each exam paper will test students’ knowledge and understanding of the specification as well as their understanding of experimental methods based upon the core practicals of the specification. Question types include: multiple choice, short and long answers and calculations: questions assessing the use of mathematical skills make up 20% of the assessment.

Assessment

Paper 1
Physical and Inorganic chemistry
2 hours
105 marks of short and long answer questions (35%)
Paper 2
Physical and Organic chemistry
2 hours
105 marks of short and long answer questions (35%)
Paper 3
Synoptic Paper
2 hours
90 marks (40 marks of questions on practical techniques and data analysis; 20 marks of questions testing across the specification; 30 multiple choice questions)
(30%)