Core & AHL

  • Key points of the core and AHL syllabus
  • Full information and help on problem areas of the syllabus
  • Each topic broken down into sub-topics with a separate page giving information and tips on how to teach it
  • Over 460 brand new IB-style multiple choice questions arranged into tests by topic (SL and HL)
  • One or more multiple choice tests in pdf format for all 11 Core topics and all 10 AHL topics
  • Ten quiz questions (with answers explained) for each and every sub-topic
  • Full answers to each multiple choice test of 20 questions with completed marking grids
  • Illustrated and resourced specific examples of links between every topic and the Nature of Science
  • Detailed examples of how to teach chemistry holistically rather than in modules
  • Advice and guidance on making relationships between topics during your teaching of all eleven topics
  • Slide galleries for each and every sub-topic covering all the syllabus content
  • Completely new short answer questions for each sub-topic together with full answers to help prepare students for Paper 2
  • Illustrated and resourced specific examples of incorporating TOK into every topic
  • Illustrated and resourced specific examples making links between every topic to the rest of chemistry and real life examples
  • Illustrated and resourced specific examples of relating each topic to International-mindedness


The chemistry contents of the core and AHL part of the syllabus should be familiar to practising chemistry teachers although there is some new material that was not on previous IB programmes such as E/Z isomers, graphene and index of hydrogen deficiency. However the syllabus mainly contains the sort of basic chemistry that can be found in any good text book for 16-19 year old chemistry programmes whatever the system. Some may find that compared to their own national system that there is more organic chemistry and less physical chemistry than they are used to. Others may lament that testing for the presence of particular ions and looking at the chemistry of groups in the periodic table other than groups 1 and 7, which are still on their own national curriculum, are missing in the IB. If you have my OUP Study Guide or one or more of the text books written specifically for the IB and access to some good general text books then you should have little difficulty finding examples and explanations for the concepts you are required to teach. Perhaps the two areas where there may be less familiarity are the concept of entropy and the whole of Topic 11 on Measurement and data processing which are not found in many other comparable national syllabi.


The syllabus

This section takes an overall view of the syllabus. There is a separate page explaining what is meant by the Nature of Science and how it relates to Theory of Knowledge. I've also included a glossary of terms and in a separate link have given some examples of questions on the Nature of Science.

Teaching the topics

I've gone carefully through each of the topics. The main pages on the topic lists the 'Essential' ideas' underpinning all the sub-topics. I've then produced a separate page for each sub-topic which starts with some sort of introduction - often a pause for thought to get you thinking a little bit deeper about the sub-topic (which may well relate to some aspect of the Nature of Science). For example, VSEPR theory appears so useful as it enable chemists to predict shapes and bond angles but actually when you examine it in more detail it is not quite so straightforward as it seems. This is then followed by a section on how the sub-topic exemplifies the Nature of Science. I've then basically listed the chemistry that has to be covered during the teaching of the sub-topic and how to teach the topic including tips on what to emphasise. I've given the references to the pages in my study guide where the basic material that needs to be covered can be found and further suggestions for additional resources including embedded videos. You can just click on these and they are ready to play. I've also included a comprehensive slide gallery for each sub-topic covering the whole syllabus which includes some worked examples. On the right are suggestions for practical work and also a list of basic new vocabulary which may be helpful to those who do not have English as their first language. Finally for each sub-topic I have made up completely new short answer questions and quizzes. These can be given either as homework or as tests and detailed answers are provided. They are designed to encourage students to think as well as testing basic recall as I believe strongly that the student who understands each topic will be the one who achieves best in examinations and more importantly, will be best prepared to continue with their education at university.

Relationships between topics (part of 'Utilization')

I find that many teachers nowadays tend to teach in a modular fashion. Often this is to fulfil the requirements of the various syllabi which tend to set out the topics individually and also the examinations. Certainly in the UK at the moment students take their A level exams in modules and in a sense once they have sat the exam for one of the modules they can more or less forget about that branch of chemistry for the rest of the course. The IB syllabus is also set out into eleven topics and perhaps it is tempting to teach these as separate entities. To some extent the exam does mirror this, particularly in the order of the multiple choice questions in Paper 1. However in Paper 3 the first question, which carries a considerable number of marks, is a Data Response question which will cut across several topics. I think it is much better practice to teach holistically and this section is an exercise in making relationships between each topic and the other ten during your actual teaching of each topic. This is followed up by one carefully worked through example for you to use with your students which leads to some interesting chemistry. This section fits in well with many of the examples given under 'Utilization' as this also makes links with other chemistry topics as well as links to other Diploma subjects and real-life applications.

Making links with International-mindedness, TOK and the chemistry aims

This is unique to the IB and teachers often struggle to make meaningful links as opposed to false or trite links to International-mindedness, Theory of Knowledge and the aims of the chemistry programme. Although International-mindedness could be examined, neither TOK nor reference to specific aims will be assessed in the external examinations. What I have done in this section is to take each of the eleven topics in turn and give several detailed examples of links to all three of these different areas that you can use when teaching your students. By combining these examples and also relating the current topic to the other ten topics you will increase both your students’ understanding of chemistry and, perhaps just as important, their enjoyment of chemistry. They will be able to see the relevance of our subject more clearly and begin to question more as well as be better prepared to take the final exams. By incorporating all this in your teaching you will also have fulfilled the underlying philosophy of the new programme.

Short answer questions and quizzes for each sub-topic

The importance of being able to answer correctly short-answer questions and extended response questions on the core/AHL materials cannot be overstated. Paper 2, which is all short-answer or extended response questions counts 40% towards the final mark for Standard Level and 36% of the final mark for Higher Level. Students who do not score well on Paper 2 will not end up with a good final grade. To help you and students I have provided short-answer questions for each sub-topic together with fully worked answers. You could give these as tests but probably they are best for students to work through on their own to check that they fully understand each sub-topic. These questions are new and should provide an excellent basis to prepare them for the final exams. To complement these there are also ten quiz questions for each sub-topic which can be given as stand-alone tests or can be used for purpose designed tests using qBank .

Multiple choice questions by topic

Ultimately students need to be good at answering multiple choice questions. There are many already in circulation but most of these come from past IB papers. In this section there are tests of twenty questions each provided for every Topic at both Standard level and Higher Level (for those large topics such as Topics 4 &14 : Chemical bonding and structure there are four tests - two at each level). The tests are downloadable to give to students and there is also a downloadable pre-completed answer grid for you to mark them quickly. The tests can be given either as tests or as homework. The unique ‘selling point’ about all the more than 450 questions on the tests is that not only are they are all written in the IB style for the current programme but they are all completely new so students (and teachers) will not have seen them before. Many of the questions have also been on the site for a while now so hopefully any errors which crept in initially have been corrected but if you do come across any more then please let me know and I can deal with them straightaway.

Selected Pages


The Nature of Science 2 March 2021

I received an e-mail from a student (not someone I teach) which included the following:"Since I am new to the IB, could...


Multiple choice tests for each topic 6 November 2019

Since Paper 1 consists entirely of multiple choice questions it makes sense to give students plenty of practice at doing...

11 & 21. Measurement, data processing & analysis (2) 18 May 2021

1. What is the best way to minimise the random uncertainty when performing an acid-base titration?A. Use a different pipetteB....

3 & 13. Periodicity & transition metals (2) 17 March 2021

For each question choose the answer you consider to be the best.1. An element is in period 3 and group 15 of the periodic...

2 &12. Atomic structure (1) 25 February 2021

For each question choose the answer you consider to be the best.1. Which is the correct definition of the atomic number...

2 &12. Atomic structure (2) 1 December 2020

For each question choose the answer you consider to be the best.1. What is the symbol for a species that contains 8 protons,...

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