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Can you teach yourself A level chemistry?

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    I'm doing biology from home, I did buy a distance learning course but have stopped using it since I find it easier to learn from a combination of text books and revision guides.

    I'd like to do chemistry as well, would the same technique work? I can take a written alternative to the practical assessment so I wouldn't actually need lab access, I'm just wondering how different/more difficult it is than biology to learn from books?

    Also if there's any good books you can suggest that'd be great.
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    I know a girl who did this... she failed.
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    (Original post by worldscollide)
    I'm doing biology from home, I did buy a distance learning course but have stopped using it since I find it easier to learn from a combination of text books and revision guides.

    I'd like to do chemistry as well, would the same technique work? I can take a written alternative to the practical assessment so I wouldn't actually need lab access, I'm just wondering how different/more difficult it is than biology to learn from books?

    Also if there's any good books you can suggest that'd be great.
    I personally think a Chemistry course with no practical work at all would suck...
    You may well be able to do reasonably well in the exams if your pretty switched on and put the work in..but it really wouldn't prepare you very well for any higher education. If it's just the grade your after then you could do ok..
    that's my opinion anyway
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    I self-taught myself chemistry because my teacher was crap and always ill so I left the classes and started to do my own work, all you need is to choose an exam board I'm with AQA and buy the textbooks yourself.
    The practical exam for the AQA board is quite straight forward I use the Nelson Thornes textbook and GCP book will cover that too. Regarding is it difficult or not? well i'd say if you were to just revise and learn from the book you'll screw yourself up, it's really important to do past papers even from the old specification you can still get some useful exam questions.
    It's definitely do-able with enough practice and work.
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    Yes you can but getting a good grade(A or B) would be very hard in my opinion without any type of help!
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    (Original post by worldscollide)
    I'm doing biology from home, I did buy a distance learning course but have stopped using it since I find it easier to learn from a combination of text books and revision guides.

    I'd like to do chemistry as well, would the same technique work? I can take a written alternative to the practical assessment so I wouldn't actually need lab access, I'm just wondering how different/more difficult it is than biology to learn from books?

    Also if there's any good books you can suggest that'd be great.
    wow I didn't know you could do that :eek:....I assumed that there must be some compulsory practical assessment in AS or A2. Which exam board are you taking biology and chemistry through?

    but you would still have to submit written coursework through an exam centre, right?

    Also, do you know if that could be done for physics as well?
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    You are going to find it hard. Most people find A-level Chemistry one of, if not THE hardest A-level, and that's with a half decent teacher. One of the reasons teachers exist is learning through the book is a much slower and hit-and-miss process than when it is explained by someone who fully understands it.

    That said, if you are set on doing it for whatever reason then that indicates a large amount of commitment and self motivation that is often lacking in 6th form students. My strong recommendation is to consider carefully, in fact get some chemistry books BEFORE you decide and look through them first.

    If you have finished GCSEs a while ago (like more than a year ago, based on the distance learning comment) i'd also recommend starting back with some GCSE Chemistry first, the big issues i've seen with 6th form Chemists is where their initial understanding of chemistry was deficient (moles, electronic shells and covalent/ionic/metallic bonding, endo/exothermic, rates of reaction, balancing equations, etc). It may just be a case of clearing the cobwebs out, but there may also be some areas you need to work on to have the right foundation there for A-level.

    If you do decide to do it have someone you can talk to if you get really stuck on something. You will probably find yourself using these forums a lot!

    If you go for it, all the best, i will expect to see you here again.
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    (Original post by gingerbreadman85)
    You are going to find it hard. Most people find A-level Chemistry one of, if not THE hardest A-level, and that's with a half decent teacher. One of the reasons teachers exist is learning through the book is a much slower and hit-and-miss process than when it is explained by someone who fully understands it.

    That said, if you are set on doing it for whatever reason then that indicates a large amount of commitment and self motivation that is often lacking in 6th form students. My strong recommendation is to consider carefully, in fact get some chemistry books BEFORE you decide and look through them first.

    If you have finished GCSEs a while ago (like more than a year ago, based on the distance learning comment) i'd also recommend starting back with some GCSE Chemistry first, the big issues i've seen with 6th form Chemists is where their initial understanding of chemistry was deficient (moles, electronic shells and covalent/ionic/metallic bonding, endo/exothermic, rates of reaction, balancing equations, etc). It may just be a case of clearing the cobwebs out, but there may also be some areas you need to work on to have the right foundation there for A-level.

    If you do decide to do it have someone you can talk to if you get really stuck on something. You will probably find yourself using these forums a lot!

    If you go for it, all the best, i will expect to see you here again.
    Thanks so much for the advice! I didn't do any science GCSEs but found biology easy to pick up, but I think I will take your advice and start from scratch with chemistry... or at least buy a few GCSE text books.

    I do have a friend with a masters in chemistry (or some chemistry related subject that I can never remember the name of...) who has helped me immensely with biology so hopefully he would be able to fill any teacher shaped gaps.

    I think I'll just give it my best shot and if I find it too hard, just take the exams whenever I feel ready.

    Again, thanks for the advice, + rep



    (Original post by W.H.T)
    wow I didn't know you could do that :eek:....I assumed that there must be some compulsory practical assessment in AS or A2. Which exam board are you taking biology and chemistry through?

    but you would still have to submit written coursework through an exam centre, right?

    Also, do you know if that could be done for physics as well?
    Edexcel offer a practical alternative to all science A levels but it's only available to international centres. I know centres registered as international do exist in the UK, but wasn't able to find one so I take my exams at a centre in Paris.

    There's no coursework, just 6 exams in total.

    Yes, they offer practical/coursework free Physics, here. The only downside is you have to take ALL units at an international centre, not just the practical alternatives, so if you don't find a centre in the UK it can mean a lot of Eurostar tickets to buy.
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    (Original post by worldscollide)
    Edexcel offer a practical alternative to all science A levels but it's only available to international centres. I know centres registered as international do exist in the UK, but wasn't able to find one so I take my exams at a centre in Paris.

    There's no coursework, just 6 exams in total.

    Yes, they offer practical/coursework free Physics, here. The only downside is you have to take ALL units at an international centre, not just the practical alternatives, so if you don't find a centre in the UK it can mean a lot of Eurostar tickets to buy.

    But surely they won't let you do that if you're a student here. This option is only avaliable for foreign students, right?

    Also on the bit about eurostar tickets, couldn't you just take all exams in one-go? (obviously they won;t all be on the same day, but you could stay in hotel?)
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    (Original post by W.H.T)
    But surely they won't let you do that if you're a student here. This option is only avaliable for foreign students, right?

    Also on the bit about eurostar tickets, couldn't you just take all exams in one-go? (obviously they won;t all be on the same day, but you could stay in hotel?)
    Well I take my Psychology exams in the UK and that's fine but I think the rules may be slightly different if you're not a private candidate. I vaguely remember reading something about having to get permission from your school to take exams independently but you can ask edexcel about that, they're very helpful.

    It's available to any student so long is that student is taking the exams for that particular subject at an international centre.

    Yeah of course, you can stay in a hotel and take your exams all in one go. Mine happened to be almost four weeks apart so I didn't do that. But you can do pretty much whatever you like
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    Due to the amount of trouble I had with AS Chemistry a couple of years ago I'm going to hire a tutor (saved up a bit of money from working) before I go off for a Foundation Year. Is that an option for you?

    Good luck, I wish I didn't have such trouble with this damn subject.
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    i know someone who done the whole course (AS and A2) in 6 months...she didnt have a life

    oh and she got an A
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    Not sure about the logistics of needing to do practicals and all that but as for the actual course content yes most definitely. Buy some books then read it and do the questions. If you get confused on topics then consult the internet and other resources.
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    I am teaching myself GCSE chemistry its pretty easy...but then again, It is only GCSE :rolleyes:
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    Go for it seeing as you're so motivated! but don't choose OCR Salters, it's a killer!

    I've attached past papers to give you a taster (they're OCR though, but the syllabus will be quite similar) Good luck
    Attached Files
  1. File Type: pdf AS Chemistry.pdf (290.7 KB, 167 views)
  2. File Type: pdf A Level Chemistry.pdf (443.5 KB, 109 views)
  3. File Type: pdf ALevelChemistry.pdf (443.5 KB, 63 views)
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    wish to do chemistry A'level on my own time, as it is very difficult to go to school and work. my concern is i need to know if there is an alterntive lab paper so i would not have to worry about having to attend lab. once i have the syllabus i believe i can do it.
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    You can teach yourself anything, just be dedicated and use the right resources.
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    hey its really good u r so self motivated. I'm sure u've done really well till now.
    do u perchance have any info and tips /resources for d intl written alt for phy chem and bio (unit 3B)?? my xam is in 3 days so please anybody help. hopeful nd grateful........
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    o, btw i'm doing edexcel and being in india i get 2 do d written alternative. my teachers cant offer much help so wud b real good if any of u guys cud. am totally dependant on u guys
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    Pleeeeeeese help
    i'm going thru agony

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Updated: May 28, 2011
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