Learning the course content:
- Have a single place for all the content. Chemistry is known for having hard content, but it’s definitely possible to understand it. Similarly to in subjects like biology, it’s important to start with a good set of notes, but the difference with Chemistry is that it can be condensed much more. It’s always useful to have a single place where everything you need to know can be found and it’s especially useful to have this be as condensed as possible. I always liked to make one set of detailed notes with examples and extensive explanations and then another set of extremely condensed notes – about one chapter per page of A4.
- Listen in class and ask questions. Chemistry is easiest to understand by working through problems, especially with someone who knows that they’re doing, such as a teacher. However, it’s possible that your teacher isn’t good at explaining things and in this case, I recommend watching YouTube videos. I owe a lot of my understanding of chemistry to these two channels: Richard Thornley and KhanAcademy.
- Understand before learning. Learning and memorising is much less important than understanding in chemistry, especially as understanding takes more time. It’s important to carefully read through the textbook and class notes to ensure that you are happy with everything. To prevent learning unnecessary information be sure to always check against the syllabus – it should be your bible during IB!
- Don’t oversimplify things – this goes together closely with the previous point about understanding. It’s really important not to learn just the equation or memorise a definition without understanding why it is the way it is. It’s also really important to understand the maths behind each calculation especially in topics such as stoichiometry!
- Take labs seriously! Lab sessions are a great way to learn the content, so be sure to read the instructions in detail and prepare in advance so you aren’t confused during the session. Also, remember that you need to think about error and uncertainty calculations.
- Practice, practice, practice. Thought the two years be sure to do as many questions as possible, whether from the textbook or questions you find online. In the run up to exams, do as many past papers as possible! There is a specific way that the IB asks questions and expect you to answer them! You have to be aware of what will and will not gain you marks, which is easiest to learn from mark schemes. If there is something that you don’t understand, be sure to go back to the explanations in the textbooks and ask your teachers/classmates for help.
- Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Although you should definitely use your summer holidays between IB1 and IB2 to relax, this is also a great time to make sure you are comfortable with all the information you learned! The topics build on each other and it’s much easier in IB2 if you are familiar with all the previous topics. Also, be sure to study topics that you find difficult too!
- Use the study guide! I studied mainly from the study guide (alongside doing many past papers), which was amazing because it had everything summarised and made it much easier to focus on only the most important points.
- Don’t forget about Paper 3! This paper can be the one that either boosts your marks immensely (especially since it’s mostly memorisation) or the one that lowers your mark if you leave it until late and cram the nights before the exam.
- Don’t dwell on hard questions – leave them and come back to them at the end! If you’ve done a lot of past papers, you should be familiar with the topics and questions that are likely to come up on the exam. However, it if you get stuck on a question or can’t remember a definition, leave it until the end and come back to it when you’ve finished all the other questions. It’s likely that you will remember from previous questions you have done!
Best revision webstites/resources:
- Handwritten Notes – These are the notes I used throughout IB Chemistry, which helped me to consistently score a Level 7 in every test and exam, including the final exams! Of course, I recommend making your own notes too, but if you are short for time or want to have another set of notes alongside your own, these are mine!
- Richard Thornley – This YouTube channel is absolutely invaluable! If you use only one resource for IB Chemistry, I think it should be this YouTube channel. All the videos explain concepts so clearly and are extremely concise! And best of all, this resource is completely free as all the videos are available on YouTube!
- Mr Weng’s IB Chemistry – This resource includes an extensive collection of YouTube videos as well as materials on his website! Mr Weng’s teaching style is very focused on the syllabus, which makes it easy to study in minimal time!
- KhanAcademy – Although the videos found on this website are not 100% aligned with the IB syllabus, there are many topics that I thought were best explained in these videos! All the videos are free and there is a HUGE range of videos to watch! If there’s a topic you are struggling to understand from textbooks, lessons and other resources, I highly recommend checking out KhanAcademy!
Best textbooks/revision guides:
- Understand the topic before learning it
- Listen in class/labs and ask questions.
- Have a single place for all the content – especially all your handwritten notes
- Don’t leave everything until the last minute, especially Paper 3!
- Do LOADS of practice questions, especially official IB past papers
Good luck and I hope these tips help you to achieve a Level 7 in IB Chemistry Standard or Higher Level!