A-level Chemistry is a subject some people love whereas others completely detest. A-level Chemistry is one of the most difficult and challenging subjects. However, it is a highly respected subject and well regarded by competitive universities.
How difficult is A-level Chemistry?
A-level Chemistry is amongst the most challenging and hard subjects. A-level Chemistry is difficult because of its extensive syllabus, lots of things to memorize, complicated concepts, and hard lab exams.
In my opinion, A-level Chemistry is the second most difficult subject after A-level Further Maths. A-level Chemistry will truly test you to your limits.
A-level chemistry has a massive syllabus. It has topics from organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. You need an elephant of a memory to know all the equations, chemicals and their reactions, and different properties of the substances.
To succeed in the exam you need to know all the nitty-gritty. The MCQ paper is designed in a manner that you must remember absolutely everything.
The lab exams are extremely difficult. You are expected to get very accurate results in a high-pressure exam with time constraints. Most students are unable to finish the lab exams in the time given.
The alternate to the practical exam in Year 13 asks you to design experiments. You are expected to explain the apparatus and how it is used, the safety precautions, possible errors and improvements. You are supposed to do all this in your head since you have no access to the apparatus itself.
The theory paper requires you to apply your prior knowledge to unfamiliar contexts. The bridge in what you know vs the degree of application of your prior knowledge in novel situations is massive.
Each question has multiple parts. You can only solve the latter parts by getting an answer to the former parts of the question. The number of marks for individual questions are between 3 and 12.
You should also have a solid understanding of GCSE Mathematics since there are several questions which require moderately complicated calculations. The calculations become increasingly complex in Year 13.
How hard is A-level Chemistry Compared to GCSE?
The concepts in A-level Chemistry are extremely challenging and complicated. A high level of understanding is needed to write the exam. The jump in difficulty from GCSE to A-level is massive.
Furthermore, A-level Chemistry requires a high level of application. A single question can cover multiple topics. You must have a strong grasp and understanding of the concepts.
There are several new questions in every paper that have never been repeated before. These questions require you to make connections between several different topics in order to arrive at the answer.
GCSE Chemistry has very similar topics to As-level Chemistry. However the marking and difficult in questions at A-level is far harsher.
The lab exams in A-level require more accuracy and implementation. There are fewer guidelines and you are expected to make many more assumptions to do the practicals in the lab exams.
You are expected to remember a plethora of chemicals, their reactions, and their properties.
In GCSE almost all the questions come directly from the textbook. So if you can memorize the textbook and have a basic understanding you can easily get an A or an A*
In A-level, you should be expecting indirect questions that ask you to link information from vastly different topics.
There are a few specially designed questions in A-level Chemistry that only the “most able candidates manage to answer.” Questions like these make getting a good grade in A-level Chemistry extremely challenging.
How difficult is the content in A-level Chemistry?
The content in A-level Chemistry is extremely challenging and difficult. This is because of the more complicated concepts in A-levels which are harder to understand and apply.
If you are struggling with A-level Chemistry, I can assure you it is not a unique problem. Most students struggle with the jump from GCSE to A-level Chemistry.
A lot of concepts are difficult to visualize in your head. A-level Chemistry is quite abstract in nature and not everything can be shown in the labs and you must rely on the findings and research of former scientists.
If you are not able to well in A-level Chemistry do not worry and be stressed. This is natural for A-levels and more so for Chemistry.
If you continuously revise A-level Chemistry using various different sources to memorize the concepts and further your understanding, I can promise you that you will definitely do much better.
What is A-level Chemistry Like?
Like GCSE, A-level Chemistry is a traditional science that is involved with elements and compounds and their composition, structure, properties, and behaviour when they undergo a reaction with other substances.
The classes are generally divided between the teachers explaining difficult concepts and the students asking related questions. There is a fair amount of interaction and discussions to make an interesting subject more enjoyable.
The students who struggle the most with A-level Chemistry are those who have no interest in the subject but are taking it to fill the prerequisites for university degrees such as Engineering or Medicine.
The labs are fun yet stressful. Playing around with the different chemicals and seeing their reactions are a lot of fun.
However not getting accurate values and results for your experiment, when everyone else has done them correctly, can be mind-boggling and anxiety-inducing.
Overall if you study hard, practice, and do your past papers you can get a good grade in A-level Chemistry.
It is a very interesting and fascinating subject and having A-level Chemistry on your university application will significantly strengthen it.
Why is A-level Chemistry so Hard?
A-level Chemistry is so hard because of the complicated and difficult questions which are specially added in the exams to make A-level Chemistry very competitive and thereby reduce the number of people getting A* grades.
What are the Minimum Requirements to Study A-level Chemistry?
The minimum requirements most colleges require in order to study A-level Chemistry are a 6 in GCSE Chemistry and a 5/6 in at least one other GCSE science. They also require a 5 in GCSE Maths and a 4 in GCSE English.
More competitive colleges may require a 6 in two different GCSE sciences with one of them being Chemistry.
Other colleges may accept you with lower grades and allow you to study A-level Chemistry. Many colleges may require you to attend extra classes and may also ask you to submit a letter of explanation of why your GCSE grades were not up to the mark.
Colleges understand that teenagers have several difficulties and problems which could hinder performance in their GCSEs. They consider these grades as soft guidelines so that students can successfully cope up with the studies at the A-level.
If you have a strong passion for Chemistry or need it as a prerequisite for your university application then you should definitely take the subject. You can get good grades with lots of practice.
What can A-level Chemistry Lead to?
A-level chemistry can lead to an undergraduate degree in applied chemistry, engineering, biochemistry, and a career as a biotechnologist, academic researcher, chemical engineer, forensic scientist and many more.
A-level chemistry is a very competitive subject and universities treat it likewise.
There are many competitive fields such as Engineering and Medicine which require high grades in A-level Chemistry. It will give you a massive advantage when applying for universities.
Furthermore, you can pursue many different fields by taking A-level Chemistry. This is because the skills you learn in Chemistry are highly transferable.
You will develop analytical and problem-solving skills, learn independent thinking, enhance your creativity, explore numerical and data analysis, and gain interpersonal and other communication skills.
You can apply these skills in various spheres of your carreer and life.
You can also benefit from a plethora of research opportunities since Chemistry is an evolving subject and scientists are always working towards developing new chemicals and substances.
A-level chemistry will open several doors of opportunity for you. A degree and career in Chemistry will ensure you get a medium to a high paying job.
Undoubtedly Chemistry is a very difficult major for University, but its demand and value in the market is undeniable.
A-level Chemistry is a subject whose grades depend on the amount of time effort and dedication students put into it. You can get much better grades if you practice more.
Your experience in A-level Chemistry depends strongly on how much you like the subject. If you enjoy the subject you will prefer to study it instead of procrastinating and putting it off.
There are excellent online and offline resources available to help and guide you through A-levels. Search Youtube, Amazon and your specification to find the best sources to help you ace your exams.