Why Do A Level Chemistry?

by Lucy Bell-Young

If you’re passionate about chemistry and want to pursue it at university and beyond, you need to pass A level chemistry. This is your ticket for admission to a prestigious university, and will pave the way for the chemistry career of your dreams. Continue reading to discover what subjects are covered in A level chemistry. 

Closeup of student holding microscope

Why Do A Level Chemistry?

Earning a place on a chemistry degree program at university isn’t easy. It’s highly competitive and requires a history of good grades, as well as a passion for the subject. To stand out from the thousands of other qualified applicants, you need an academic edge. 

Passing A Level chemistry demonstrates you have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue this difficult subject at university level. It will provide a deeper insight into the subjects you learn at GCSE, and will help develop your skills in key areas. 

A level chemistry is considered a central science, combining physics, biology, and mathematics to explain the physical universe. If you want to be a part of advancing humanity, whether that’s through pursuing environmental science, medicine, or explaining physical phenomena, then A level chemistry might just be your first stepping stone. 

There’s a huge number of careers in chemistry you can pursue once you’ve passed your A level and earned a chemistry degree. Some of the best are:

What Do You Learn in Chemistry A Level?

A Level chemistry focuses on physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry. As you delve into these subjects, you’ll develop a strong understanding of the key theories and principles of chemistry, whilst also improving your own critical thinking and analytical skills. 

Physical chemistry

The main focus here is the fundamental roles of atoms in determining the properties of chemical compounds. Specifically, you need to understand the structure of the atom in terms of the arrangements of the electrons in the various orbitals and energy levels.

Chemical reactions involve the pairing of electrons in orbitals. Therefore, you need to master the electron configuration of the elements.

Meanwhile, the properties of the elements and the compounds they form are dependent on the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. The proportionality of the reactants and their products can be calculated based on their molar mass.

Each mole is approximately 6.022×1023. It’s the number of particles of a particular element or compound given its atomic or molecular mass. 

Some of the topics of physical chemistry you’ll learn about at A Level are:

  • Atomic structure
  • Bonding
  • Energetics
  • Kinetics
  • Chemical equilibria
  • Oxidation
  • Thermodynamics
  • Rate equations
  • Equilibrium constant
  • Electrode potentials and electrochemical cells
  • Acids and bases

Studying physical chemistry at this level will make you more proficient at analysing and interpreting data. It will also introduce you to the core principles of the subject, which will be particularly useful if you plan on becoming a material scientist or analytical chemist.

Inorganic chemistry

Inorganic chemistry is focussed on all chemical reactions, properties, and structures that do not include carbon as the main element. The main focus of this at A level is the periodicity of the elements and how their chemical behaviours are predictable based on their positions in the periodic table.

Other specific topics you’ll learn about include:

  • Alkaline earth metals
  • Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides
  • Reactions of ions in aqueous solution

You’ll also study the various groupings of elements, including halogens, transitional metals, and noble gases. These groupings are crucial in understanding the behaviours of these elements. Studying inorganic chemistry at A level is crucial if you want to pursue a career as a geoscientist, chemical engineer, biochemist or biophysicist, or even a nanochemist. 

Organic chemistry

Unlike inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry involves the study of anything that has carbon as the base element. Carbon is a highly versatile element, making it the basis of life. All known living organisms are carbon-based. Proteins, lipids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids are unlikely to form without carbon.

At A level, organic chemistry is concerned with the following topics:

  • Alkanes, halogenoalkanes, and alkenes
  • Alcohols
  • Organic analysis
  • Optical Isomerism
  • Aldehydes and ketones
  • Carboxylic acids and derivatives
  • Aromatic chemistry
  • Amines
  • Polymers
  • Amino acids, proteins and DNA
  • Organic synthesis
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Chromatography

You’ll also be taught about the structural basis and general formulas of the various organic compounds. By developing your skills in organic chemistry, you’ll be well prepared to pursue careers in biotechnology, pharmacology, medicine, analytical chemistry, and many more. 

If you want to pursue chemistry as a career, or are interested in studying science at university, you can’t avoid A level chemistry. The skills you’ll develop will prove invaluable no matter what discipline you decide to specialise in.


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