How difficult is chemistry a level, I am currently doing my GCSEs and I want to...

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Milliewest2
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#1
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#1
I am currently doing my GCSEs and I am thinking about my a level options and my dream is to become a vet, I go to a grammar school, so compared to the other students I am kinda bad at chemistry but I am predicted an 8. I hated my teacher that I have had for the past few years so haven’t ever enjoyed chemistry nor feel good at all at it. However as I said my dream is to become a vet I must do chemistry a level which I am not so keen on doing as my confidence has dropped. I am a very hard worker and would work from the beginning but I am not a natural at chemistry and find it difficult because in my experience the teacher doesn’t teach us but expects us to know it.

Is chemistry a level a lot based on gcse or is it kind of a new start. I love biology and geography so am likely to choose those as my two other options and possibly sport science or history as I love the theory side of sport. Just please any advise!!
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rchl_x
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#2
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#2
(Original post by Milliewest2)
I am currently doing my GCSEs and I am thinking about my a level options and my dream is to become a vet, I go to a grammar school, so compared to the other students I am kinda bad at chemistry but I am predicted an 8. I hated my teacher that I have had for the past few years so haven’t ever enjoyed chemistry nor feel good at all at it. However as I said my dream is to become a vet I must do chemistry a level which I am not so keen on doing as my confidence has dropped. I am a very hard worker and would work from the beginning but I am not a natural at chemistry and find it difficult because in my experience the teacher doesn’t teach us but expects us to know it.

Is chemistry a level a lot based on gcse or is it kind of a new start. I love biology and geography so am likely to choose those as my two other options and possibly sport science or history as I love the theory side of sport. Just please any advise!!
Hi! I'm in yr 12 and I don't do chemistry, but I do understand it is a big jump from GCSE, and most people say to do it only if you need it for uni. Some people really love it though, I do biology, so most people also do chem including my friends. I also do environmental science, which is pretty similar to geography and I love it at alevel! And biology I love the most! I also do psychology, so feel free to ask any questions! do you have any ideas about what you want to do for uni, no one tells you but you need to consider it before picking alevel options, I made that mistake aha!
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mspaghetti
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#3
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#3
A level any science has some sort of overlap with gcse but there's a lot of new content. I loved biology and geography at gcse too but i ended up loving chemistry more because it becomes very interesting
Last edited by mspaghetti; 1 year ago
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_harveer.s_
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#4
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#4
It depends on the exam board how big the jump is initially. In my experience AQA AS isn't too much of a jump but OCR AS is.
Come A2 all exam boards become hard tho, so be prepared even if you secure good predicted grades.

I would say with chemistry it definitely takes dedication. I got a 9 easily in GCSE chemistry and personally whilst I found that understood everything in chemistry a level conceptually, applying it was always difficult. But once I put in the hours I got there. Trust me if you need an A in chemistry and you're dedicated to being a vet, it is possible - just keep reminding yourself of that when it feels hard and you'll be ok.

The best way to revise chemistry in my opinion is:

1) use chemguide to learn each point of your spec. Go through each line of your spec and then search the topic on chem guide to learn the whole theory. The website overexplains but it helps so, so much in solidifying key concepts. Make flash cards of the key points and learn that.

2) the hardest topics are usually: Hesses law and NMR (guaranteed to come up in OCR papers). Definitely go over these plenty of times but if you struggle, revisit them later and see how you find it. I didn't actually have them down completely until a month before exams.

3) practice viewing molecules in different ways. One thing I found difficult to transition was rotating atoms around a molecules and visualising that. This is integral to understanding isomerism and how you start to view + name molecules at a level.

4) practice naming and drawing molecules, from their names - however this also started to just make sense over time for me even if it was weird to learn at first.

5) a big one is the calculations. They become harder. I recommend Jim Clarks calculation book (same guy who made chem guide). It is a life saver and also explains Hesses law well.

6) take an interest in it. The stuff you learn in chemistry is actually really cool. For example if you learn about radicals - looking up how these mechanisms are relevant to the ozone layer breaking down is really relevant to current times but also just so cool.

7) PRACTICE PAPERS ALL THE WAY. Before final exams you gotta have done all the papers to really push for the high grades. You need enough time to do this so I also recommend reading ahead on content always. Before each lesson make sure you're ahead. It then means you know what questions to ask and you have room to breathe and you can solidify what you already know.

8) take 3 a levels not 4. You can try and push yourself sure but if you know you want to be a vet, I don't think extra a levels count for much and you need breaks and extra time for hard a levels. Plus admissions aren't easy and will take a lot of time preparing in year 13

9) have fun through sixth form and don't let work be the only thing you do. Burn out can happen. Everyone ik got tired after school really easy. Lessons are less plentiful but far more dense.

NB: for vet med in general - also make sure you get good volunteering through sixth form. Covid has made courses like med and vet med harder to get into because of recent grade inflation. You want to stand as best a chance as possible.
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Milliewest2
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#5
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#5
Hi thanks so much for replying I really want to become a vet and chemistry is required at a level but I think it will be extremely difficult and am nervous. How is biology I heard there is obviously a lot of content but I don’t mind that.
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Milliewest2
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#6
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#6
(Original post by _harveer.s_)
It depends on the exam board how big the jump is initially. In my experience AQA AS isn't too much of a jump but OCR AS is.
Come A2 all exam boards become hard tho, so be prepared even if you secure good predicted grades.

I would say with chemistry it definitely takes dedication. I got a 9 easily in GCSE chemistry and personally whilst I found that understood everything in chemistry a level conceptually, applying it was always difficult. But once I put in the hours I got there. Trust me if you need an A in chemistry and you're dedicated to being a vet, it is possible - just keep reminding yourself of that when it feels hard and you'll be ok.

The best way to revise chemistry in my opinion is:

1) use chemguide to learn each point of your spec. Go through each line of your spec and then search the topic on chem guide to learn the whole theory. The website overexplains but it helps so, so much in solidifying key concepts. Make flash cards of the key points and learn that.

2) the hardest topics are usually: Hesses law and NMR (guaranteed to come up in OCR papers). Definitely go over these plenty of times but if you struggle, revisit them later and see how you find it. I didn't actually have them down completely until a month before exams.

3) practice viewing molecules in different ways. One thing I found difficult to transition was rotating atoms around a molecules and visualising that. This is integral to understanding isomerism and how you start to view + name molecules at a level.

4) practice naming and drawing molecules, from their names - however this also started to just make sense over time for me even if it was weird to learn at first.

5) a big one is the calculations. They become harder. I recommend Jim Clarks calculation book (same guy who made chem guide). It is a life saver and also explains Hesses law well.

6) take an interest in it. The stuff you learn in chemistry is actually really cool. For example if you learn about radicals - looking up how these mechanisms are relevant to the ozone layer breaking down is really relevant to current times but also just so cool.

7) PRACTICE PAPERS ALL THE WAY. Before final exams you gotta have done all the papers to really push for the high grades. You need enough time to do this so I also recommend reading ahead on content always. Before each lesson make sure you're ahead. It then means you know what questions to ask and you have room to breathe and you can solidify what you already know.

8) take 3 a levels not 4. You can try and push yourself sure but if you know you want to be a vet, I don't think extra a levels count for much and you need breaks and extra time for hard a levels. Plus admissions aren't easy and will take a lot of time preparing in year 13

9) have fun through sixth form and don't let work be the only thing you do. Burn out can happen. Everyone ik got tired after school really easy. Lessons are less plentiful but far more dense.

NB: for vet med in general - also make sure you get good volunteering through sixth form. Covid has made courses like med and vet med harder to get into because of recent grade inflation. You want to stand as best a chance as possible.
Genuinely this helped so much thanks so much
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_harveer.s_
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Milliewest2)
Genuinely this helped so much thanks so much
No worries - do you know what exam board you're doing? I did OCR B. It's a little niche but if you happen to be doing the same one, I can give you my notes and flashcards for anki. That's another thing use anki flashcards as much as you can but for organic stuff that involves drawing, make written flashcards or take photos or screenshots and use them on anki. I preferred hand written for organic tho.
I can explain more on why anki is good if you like but Ali abdaal has some great videos and a skillshare class on it
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Milliewest2
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#8
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#8
(Original post by _harveer.s_)
No worries - do you know what exam board you're doing? I did OCR B. It's a little niche but if you happen to be doing the same one, I can give you my notes and flashcards for anki. That's another thing use anki flashcards as much as you can but for organic stuff that involves drawing, make written flashcards or take photos or screenshots and use them on anki. I preferred hand written for organic tho.
I can explain more on why anki is good if you like but Ali abdaal has some great videos and a skillshare class on it
Edexcel 😭 thanks tho
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ALostPingu
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Milliewest2)
I am currently doing my GCSEs and I am thinking about my a level options and my dream is to become a vet, I go to a grammar school, so compared to the other students I am kinda bad at chemistry but I am predicted an 8. I hated my teacher that I have had for the past few years so haven’t ever enjoyed chemistry nor feel good at all at it. However as I said my dream is to become a vet I must do chemistry a level which I am not so keen on doing as my confidence has dropped. I am a very hard worker and would work from the beginning but I am not a natural at chemistry and find it difficult because in my experience the teacher doesn’t teach us but expects us to know it.

Is chemistry a level a lot based on gcse or is it kind of a new start. I love biology and geography so am likely to choose those as my two other options and possibly sport science or history as I love the theory side of sport. Just please any advise!!
I did OCR A chemistry, and I felt that a lot of the past papers felt very similar ie the questions were pretty much the same but it might be butane instead of ethane etc. So by practicing those and learning from your mistakes, you can start to get better at papers and your marks increase. While the jump is challenging, by practising questions on each topic, you will hopefully be at a point where not much will surprise you. e.g. by doing lots of calculation questions, you become really confident at them and can secure those marks. Another idea is to talk to friends and class mates. You can learn a lot from them, including both understanding topics and exam technique.
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8013
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#10
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#10
It may be difficult to grasp at the start, but over time you should adapt to it. It is not too difficult. I started off with a C in early 2019/20. But I used the teacher's methods well and had much more independent study (by rewriting songs with textbook content). In my AS exam I scored 99%, then in A2 I am expected to get above 90%. I am doing international spec.
p.s. I got 8 in IGCSE Chemistry as well.
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8013
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#11
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#11
(Original post by Milliewest2)
Edexcel 😭 thanks tho
I took edexcel chemistry from 2019-2021.
I still have lyrics of my revision songs, and some interpretations to them. I think I can sort them by topic and send them to you.
As the Bible said "bearing with one another in love", so I think that as I have ability to help you, thanks to God making me do the impossible of getting an A*, I will definitely bear with you and not delete all my chemistry files yet.
You can PM me where you are up to, and I can provide you with the required songs and tips.
Last edited by 8013; 1 year ago
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PhantomMercy
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Milliewest2)
I am currently doing my GCSEs and I am thinking about my a level options and my dream is to become a vet, I go to a grammar school, so compared to the other students I am kinda bad at chemistry but I am predicted an 8. I hated my teacher that I have had for the past few years so haven’t ever enjoyed chemistry nor feel good at all at it. However as I said my dream is to become a vet I must do chemistry a level which I am not so keen on doing as my confidence has dropped. I am a very hard worker and would work from the beginning but I am not a natural at chemistry and find it difficult because in my experience the teacher doesn’t teach us but expects us to know it.

Is chemistry a level a lot based on gcse or is it kind of a new start. I love biology and geography so am likely to choose those as my two other options and possibly sport science or history as I love the theory side of sport. Just please any advise!!
I take A-Level chem and it is very interesting. Depending on your exam board, the amount of overlap with GCSE will vary but I found that the first few topics are very similar to GCSE. It does get quite content heavy (especially organic chem) but not as content heavy as biology. It is a good mix of a lot of content and a few calculations.

My friends who take history say that is is like a mountain of essays and content but they really enjoy it and find it interesting!

I took geography for the first four terms then transferred to further maths. Geography A-Level is VERY SIMILAR to GCSE I found, and in all honesty I just got bored of it. I loved it at GCSE but at A-Level it was just a lot of repetition and I wasn't enjoying myself (plus I found my passion for maths).

I hope this helps
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Milliewest2
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#13
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#13
(Original post by PhantomMercy)
I take A-Level chem and it is very interesting. Depending on your exam board, the amount of overlap with GCSE will vary but I found that the first few topics are very similar to GCSE. It does get quite content heavy (especially organic chem) but not as content heavy as biology. It is a good mix of a lot of content and a few calculations.

My friends who take history say that is is like a mountain of essays and content but they really enjoy it and find it interesting!

I took geography for the first four terms then transferred to further maths. Geography A-Level is VERY SIMILAR to GCSE I found, and in all honesty I just got bored of it. I loved it at GCSE but at A-Level it was just a lot of repetition and I wasn't enjoying myself (plus I found my passion for maths).
I hope this helps
Thanks soo much, Yh I find geography so interesting and if my passion and dream wasn’t to become a vet then I could see myself doing something in that field but thanks, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to but what did you get at gcse chemistry ?? Or what do you think you should get at least to be able to do chem a level thanks x
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baNaanaaBread
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#14
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#14
to be honest I do Chemistry and in the first lesson they told us to forget everything we had ever learn because it was an oversimplification - also some people who take it for A-Level will have done combined science so you will have to recover stuff anyway. I would say give it a shot and you could always switch if you really hate it.
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ShadowHokage
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#15
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#15
You will be fine! Honestly, it depends on the teacher. The way my teachers teach at sixth form, I find a levels chemistry easier than GCSEs (weird ikr?). My best advice would to really understand concepts. Don’t try to memorise information because chemistry exams are mainly application based so memorising stuff won’t help (unless they are definitions ofc). Also a pro tip I would give is that always challenge yourself in chemistry. Look at Chemistry Olympiad or C3L6 questions, don’t look at these now but once you have learned quite a bit of the content (I’d recommend maybe after 4-5 months into the course). Try these questions, they are extremely difficult, way beyond A*, but if you can do these, A level chemistry will seem like a walk in the walk.
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t0897
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#16
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#16
(Original post by Milliewest2)
Hi thanks so much for replying I really want to become a vet and chemistry is required at a level but I think it will be extremely difficult and am nervous. How is biology I heard there is obviously a lot of content but I don’t mind that.
I'm doing chemistry and even though I'm still in year 12 we've done some of the year 13 content too, as long as your teachers are good then you're fin. It's actually much easier for me than biology because the content isn't as heavy, it's more practicing questions and my exam board (AQA) means whatever you learn in lesson is basically all that will come up in the exam with the wording being easy too.
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PhantomMercy
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#17
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#17
(Original post by Milliewest2)
Thanks soo much, Yh I find geography so interesting and if my passion and dream wasn’t to become a vet then I could see myself doing something in that field but thanks, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to but what did you get at gcse chemistry ?? Or what do you think you should get at least to be able to do chem a level thanks x
I got a 9 at GCSE and am currently predicted an A* at A Level . I'd say you should probably reconsider if you got below a 7 but if you don't think you deserved the 6 like you messed up in the exams then go for it. Just make sure that whatever you get that you go back over all GCSE content as it is assumed you know it all for A-Level.
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