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IB Chemistry Overview

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Chemistry syllabus is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of its fundamental principles and concepts. It is a two-year course of study typically taken by students in their final two years of high school. IB Chemistry is a prerequisite for several other tertiary courses, such as medicine, environmental science and biological science.

The syllabus emphasises on the importance of practical work, including experimental design, data analysis, and the communication of scientific findings. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 60 hours of practical work during the course. This includes a range of experimental investigations and practical activities.

Assessment on the IB Chemistry course is based on a combination of internal and external assessments. Internal assessments include practical work and individual investigations, while external assessments include written exams and an independent research project. The course aims to prepare students for further study in chemistry at the university level and to develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, and experimental skills.

The IB Chemistry course is divided into four main areas:

Stoichiometric Relationships

This area covers the quantitative relationships in chemical reactions, including the mole concept, chemical equations, and calculations involving concentration, gas laws, and energetics.

Atomic Structure

This area covers the structure of atoms, the periodic table, and chemical bonding. It also covers the properties of matter and the behaviour of gases.

Periodicity & Properties of Elements

This area covers the properties of elements, including their reactivity, acidity, and basicity. It also covers the chemistry of groups of elements, such as the alkali metals, the halogens, and the transition metals.

Chemical Kinetics, Equilibria, & Organic Chemistry

This area covers the rates of chemical reactions, chemical equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, and organic chemistry.

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Curriculum Review

The IB Chemistry course is offered at both the Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL), with the HL course covering additional topics in greater depth. Here is a list of the main topics covered in each level:

Standard Level Topics

  1. Stoichiometric Relationships
  2. Atomic Structure
  3. Periodicity and Properties of Elements
  4. Chemical Bonding and Structure
  5. Energetics/Thermochemistry
  6. Chemical Kinetics
  7. Equilibrium
  8. Acids and Bases
  9. Redox Processes
  10. Organic Chemistry
  11. Measurement and Data Processing
  12. Option Topic

Higher Level Topics

  1. All SL Topics
  2. Atomic Structure and Periodicity
  3. Bonding and Structure
  4. Energetics/Thermochemistry
  5. Chemical Kinetics
  6. Equilibrium
  7. Acids and Bases
  8. Redox Processes
  9. Organic Chemistry
  10. Measurement and Data Processing
  11. Option Topic 1
  12. Option Topic 2
  13. Additional HL topics: Further Organic chemistry, Further Analytical Chemistry, and an HL Extension on Energy

Overall, the HL course covers the SL topics in more depth and adds several additional topics, providing students with a deeper understanding of chemistry and preparing them for further study in the subject.

Exam Format

The IB Chemistry exams for both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL) consist of three papers: Paper 1, Paper 2, and Paper 3. The percentage of each chapter in the exams varies depending on the paper and level. Here is an overview:

Standard Level Format

SL Paper 1

  • 30 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on all topics (1-11)
  • 45 minutes
  • 40% of the final grade

SL Paper 2

  • Short-answer and extended-response questions on all topics (1-11)
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 36% of the final grade

SL Paper 3

  • One option topic (12)
  • Two questions, one short-answer and one extended-response
  • 1 hour
  • 24% of the final grade

Higher Level Format

HL Paper 1

  • 30 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on all topics (1-11)
  • 45 minutes
  • 20% of the final grade

HL Paper 2

  • Short-answer and extended-response questions on all topics (1-11)
  • 2 hours 15 minutes
  • 36% of the final grade

HL Paper 3

  • Two option topics (1 and 2)
  • Three questions, two short-answer and one extended-response
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 24% of the final grade

Overall, the exams for both SL and HL cover all topics, but the emphasis on each topic varies depending on the level and paper. It is important for students to have a strong understanding of all topics and to practise a variety of question types to prepare for the exams.

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