IB Chemistry Content Overview

IB Chemistry Overview

Course Overview

Chemistry is a prerequisite for several other courses in tertiary education, such as medicine, environmental science and biological science. Students taking the IB chemistry course will undertake both theory and practical work and acquire investigation and manipulative skills. In addition, this course gives students opportunities to develop interpersonal, mathematical and information technology skills that are important to life.

By studying this course, students become aware of:

  • how chemical concepts underpin both physical and biological systems
  • how chemists work with one another
  • how experiments in chemistry are designed
  • how scientific data is collected
  • how experimental results are analysed
  • how scientific findings are critically evaluated and effectively communicated

Course Objectives

The objectives of the IB chemistry course are to provide students opportunities to:

  • acquire a body of knowledge and techniques that characterise chemistry and apply them to other areas of knowledge and the real world
  • develop the ability to analyse and evaluate information in chemistry
  • build experimental skills in chemistry using current equipment and technologies
  • hone their collaboration and communication skills through scientific activities
  • become aware of the ethical and environmental implications of using chemicals for investigation
  • analyse the strengths and limitations of chemistry

Curriculum Components

The following core topics are covered for students taking the chemistry course at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). The HL course gets into more detail and/or covers more subtopics for these core topics than the SL course. The same applies for the option topic as well.

Core topics

  1. Stoichiometric relationships
  2. Atomic structure
  3. Periodicity
  4. Chemical bonding and structure
  5. Energetics
  6. Chemical kinetics
  7. Equilibrium
  8. Acids and bases
  9. Redox processes
  10. Organic chemistry
  11. Measurement and data processing

Option topic (Choice of one out of four)

  1. Materials
  2. Biochemistry
  3. Energy
  4. Medicinal chemistry


Assessments in IB chemistry are to ascertain the ability of students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of concepts, details and jargon in chemistry and communicate them effectively. Students are also required to develop and assess hypotheses, research questions and experimental techniques and carry out percipient investigations.

TypeFormatTime (SL / HL)Weightage of final grade (SL / HL)
Paper 1Multiple choice questions45 minutes / 1 hour20% / 20%
Paper 2Short answer and extended response questions1 hour 15 minutes / 2 hours 15 minutes40% / 36%
Paper 3Data and practical based questions, short and extended response questions on the option topic1 hour / 1 hour 15 minutes20% / 24%
Internal Assessment (IA)Investigation and Report10 hours20%

The Group 4 Project

The group 4 project is a collaborative activity for students from different group 4 experimental science subjects (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.) to work together. It mainly gives an opportunity for students from different disciplines to work together as a team and share concepts and perceptions with each other. Each team consists of around 3-4 students who take at least two different experimental science subjects. They work on a topic together and make a presentation at the end of the project. Scores for this project are included in the internal assessment marks.