Chemistry is a fascinating subject where you can discover more about the patterns in nature which produced everyday effects that we often take for granted. We learn the theory about how particles interact to produce those effects and we explore these through experiments. We study how chemicals work under different conditions and explore questions like “What will happen if…?” We develop experimental techniques and awareness of safe handling of chemicals.
Chemistry links together the aspects of applied sciences like biology with physical sciences like maths and physics, allowing you to challenge ideas and theories and investigate everything from the largest elements down to the smallest particle.
What will I study?
The GCSE Chemistry course follows AQA Chemistry Specification which is made up of the 10 units listed below.
- Atomic structure and the periodic table
- Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter
- Quantitative chemistry
- 4 Chemical changes
- Energy changes
- The rate and extent of chemical change
- Organic chemistry
- Chemical analysis
- Chemistry of the atmosphere
- Using resources
The chemistry course is demanding but rewarding for those who work at it. It involves not only learning new ideas but also understanding how to apply these to real life situations. There is a significant amount of mathematics, both in calculations and in analysing graphs.
Pupils studying chemistry develop a deeper understanding of concepts in chemistry that they have already met in Year 8. They further develop the skills of using scientific terminology, and how to explain their thinking clearly and logically. They learn how to apply their understanding of chemistry to solve problems in everyday examples of chemistry.
Practical skills are integrated into the teaching through experiments, including 8 “required practicals”. Pupils will learn how to plan and carry out experiments in a valid a safe way, and how to present, analyse and evaluate their results.
During the course an increasing emphasis is put on developing the skills of independent learning and organisation of their study. Pupils should therefore be ready to complement lessons with their own self-initiated study at home in order to achieve their potential.
Is this GCSE for me?
Chemistry is one of the core subjects of STEM, (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) education. It will help you develop skills in numeracy, analytics, research, evaluation, organisation and problem solving and will help you to learn vital communication and teamwork skills through the practical sessions. Chemistry is an important subject if your aspirations lie in medicine, engineering, pharmaceuticals, software development and even space exploration!
How will I be assessed?
Examination Board: AQA | Specification: 8462
Progress in skills and knowledge is regularly assessed in tests, following which pupils are presented with model answers and can see and discuss where and how they need to improve.
8 practical experiments are required by the examination board, to be carried out as part of the course but there is no longer any practical coursework assessment. All the assessment takes place in two 1hour 45min exams in the final term.
Paper 1: 1hr 45mins, 50% of total GCSE mark.
Atomic structure and the periodic table | Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter Quantitative chemistry | Chemical changes | Energy changes
Paper 2: 1hr 45mins, 50% of total GCSE mark.
The rate and extent of chemical change | Organic chemistry | Chemical analysis Chemistry of the atmosphere | Using resources