Chemguide: Core Chemistry 14 - 16

About this part of Chemguide


Most of Chemguide covers chemistry for 16 - 18 year old students. This part of Chemguide is aimed at helping students on introductory chemistry courses, typically taught to 14 - 16 year olds.

It isn't intended to cover every corner of every syllabus. Instead I want to help you to understand the essentials at the heart of chemistry. Once you are confident about the core of the subject, you shouldn't have any problems with the extra bits that modern syllabuses tend to include as well.

The importance of using syllabuses and past papers

You will have to keep an eye on your syllabus to make sure that you know what extra bits you need, but also where this site may be going further than your syllabus wants. That's all part of learning to be a good student!

If you are doing a UK based syllabus, you can download a copy of the syllabus from your Exam Board's website. So you first need to check with your teacher which exam you are preparing for.

I am pointing you to the front page of each website, because during the lifetime of Chemguide, syllabuses will change. Find your way through the website for the latest GCSE Chemistry page. Download the specification, and any other useful stuff you can find, including past papers, mark schemes and so on.

In several cases, you will have to follow links to "Science" to find what you want.

The old term "syllabus" is now usually replaced by the word "specification".

Syllabuses aen't always completely clear. That is why you should also find as many past papers and mark schemes as you can so that you can see exactly what examiners want.

If you are lucky, your examiners will be generous in what they provide. But some examiners are very ungenerous. I can't really help you there.

The importance of text books

The advantage of a text book is that it gives you all the information you are likely to need in one easily accessible place. This Chemguide section isn't intended to replace a text book - it is designed to help you understand things where a text book doesn't always have space to give you enough help.

The best text book for you to use is always one which is written specifically for the course you are doing. Look for the words "Endorsed by . . .". That means that the examiners have been through the book and agreed that it is exactly what is required by the syllabus.

It should also give you a wide range of questions which are relevant to the syllabus you are doing.

The organisation of this part of Chemguide

I have organised the material as if it were a book which you could use to teach yourself chemistry. You will find it arranged as a set of "chapters" which are split up into separate manageable topics. If you wanted to, you could start at the beginning and then work your way through it.

It is organised in a logical teaching order - which isn't necessarily the same as any syllabus order. For example, syllabuses usually have the mathematical bits of the subject quite early on, which is guaranteed to put most students off! I have always left those bits to the end.

More likely, though, you will visit the site looking for information, perhaps via a search engine. Where you might need help from an earlier page, you will find a link to it.

Odds and ends

Sulphur or sulfur, suphate or sulfate, sulphuric acid or sulfuric acid?

In the main part of Chemguide, I have used the traditional English spelling with the "-ph-". This was in common use when I started writing Chemguide, and I saw no reason to change.

Since all UK syllabuses now use the sulfur spelling, I have decided that it is simpler for students in the early stages of the subject to use the official (sulfur) version on this part of the site, but you should recognise both spellings as meaning exactly the same thing.

Please help to keep this section working properly

There are quite a lot of YouTube videos embedded in the pages of this section and, over the years, some of these are bound to disappear for one reason or another.

So if you come across a video which you can't load, it would be really helpful if you could let me know via the email address below.

I will normally acknowledge people who help in this way, but obviously if 1000 people all point out a faulty video link on a popular page at the same time, that's impossible! If you let me know about a broken video, and a day later it works, that's because I fixed it, and I thank you in advance.

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© Jim Clark 2020 (modified May 2022)