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Chemistry A Level at The Ashcombe School

Course description

Reformed subject

Why study the subject?

Chemistry is the science that is central to understanding and developing modern day technology. In fields that range from medicines to fuels, polymers to dyes, the skills and knowledge of the Chemist are fundamental in furthering sustainable and green technology to meet the needs of a growing population and finite resources. Chemistry also underpins our understanding of how living organisms and ecosystems work, as well as our relationship with the wider environment through study of the chemistry of our atmosphere and oceans.

In contrast to a traditional “topic-based” course, the OCR B (Salters) course is unique in that it provides students the opportunity to learn chemical principals in a “context-led” approach. Learners study Chemical ideas via a range of different topical and relevant “storylines” and gain an awareness of the ethical, environmental, technological and economic aspects of chemistry. Ideas are introduced in a spiral way with new concepts introduced in the early part of the course reinforced throughout the course in later contexts. As such, students learn to draw on multiple areas of chemical theory in order to solve real life problems and learn to think in a synoptic way.

The ‘B’ specification places a particular emphasis on an investigational and problem-solving approach to practical work. Candidates are offered the opportunity to devise and plan experimental and investigative work and learn to interpret, explain, evaluate and communicate their findings. These skills are now assessed in a written examination at the end of the AS and A-level courses. Please note that the extended investigation in the upper sixth is no longer a part of the new specification.

Chemistry is a rigorous and challenging but highly rewarding subject and students find the topics covered both stimulating and relevant. All students find Chemistry difficult at some point but we offer a drop in Chiemistry Clinic and we are fortunate that members of the Upper Sixth often volunteer to support students in the Lower Sixth in their Chemistry studies.

The A-level will be examined at the end of two years .There is no longer a conversion from AS to A2 marks – marks for AS exams will not count towards A-level. Students choosing AS and A-level will be taught together in Y12.

Course content

Content Overview

Development of practical skills in chemistry


• Elements of life

• Developing fuels

• Elements from the sea

• The ozone story

• What’s in a medicine?

• The chemical industry

• Polymers and life

• Oceans

• Developing metals

• Colour by design 


Chemical literacy

Practical Endorsement


Entry requirements

You should obtain at least grade Cs in Core Science and Additional Science if you wish to study Chemistry at A-level. There are significant aspects of the course that require good mathematical skills, particularly in the second year of the course. Students need to be able to handle standard form and be able to rearrange equations. Calculations involving simple logarithmic terms also feature in the second year. Students need to be committed to hard work and be willing to undertake additional practice work if required in order to overcome areas of difficulty. 


Assessment Overview


Fundamentals of Chemistry (01)*  110 marks 

2 hrs 15 mins written paper    41% of total A-level
Scientific literacy in Chemistry (02)*  100 marks
2 hrs 15 mins written paper    37% of total A-level
Practical skills in Chemistry (03)*  60 marks
1 hr 30 mins written paper      22% of total A-level
Practical endorsement in Chemistry (04)*
(non exam assessment)       Reported separately
*Note that all components include synoptic assessment of the A-level course, including practical skills.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Ashcombe School directly.

Last updated date: 25 August 2016
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