Support for
Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry
Edexcel Certificate in Chemistry

About the contents of the CD

The ActiveBook

This is an electronic version of the book and has icons imbedded into it so that you can access the extra material outlined below.

Syllabus (specification) statements

Each chapter has a list of syllabus statements which are covered in that chapter so that you can check your progress through the syllabus. The best way of using this would be to download a copy of the syllabus (specification) from Edexcel, and use these lists to tick things off on the main syllabus once you have done them.

Printable checklists

You will find printable versions of the end-of-chapter checklists which you can use as another way of checking your progress.

Edexcel exam questions

Throughout the ActiveBook, you will find links to 20 past Edexcel International GCSE exam questions. As well as the question itself, each has a model answer, the official Edexcel mark scheme, and comments based on the Chief Examiner's Report.

You should obviously try each of these before you look at the answers and comments, but their real purpose is not to give you extra questions to do, but to give you practice in reading mark schemes and the Examiner's Report. If you want to do well, this is something you have to learn to do, so that you know exactly what the examiners are looking for in your answers.

Multiple choice questions

These questions are designed both to test your understanding of each topic, and to make you think. Many of them are much longer than usual for modern multiple choice questions, and some of them will take you several minutes to do - for example, in the calculations chapters, quite a lot of questions involve an entire calculation rather than just a small bit of one. The explanations given for the answers are important. They aren't just to tell you whether you got something right or wrong, but to help you to understand why it was right or wrong.

You will find links to two versions of these questions in each chapter:

  • A Word file which contains a set of 10 (in two short chapters, 5) questions, at one question per page. This is followed in the same file by each question being repeated along with the correct answer and a full explanation of that answer such as a teacher might give in going through the questions with a class. You will find the numbering a bit bizarre. This was to try to bring the numbering in the two versions of the multiple choice questions into line with each other.

  • An interactive version where the questions are presented one at a time, and you have to check a box against your chosen answer on screen. At the end of the test, you can go back through to find brief comments on the answers you have given. For software reasons, the maximum number of questions per chapter is reduced to 8.

    I would strongly advise you not to use the interactive versions. They were created from the Word files by the editorial team, and I wasn't given time to check and amend what they had produced. I know that some of the comments on the answers in the calculation section aren't consistent with the way the calculations are done in the book or with my comments in the Word files. There may well be other inconsistencies or errors elsewhere. I argued very strongly for the interactive versions to be omitted from the disc, but was over-ruled.

    You will lose absolutely nothing if you only use the Word versions. In fact, they are quicker and more logical to use, and you get a full, reliable commentary on each question. You also, of course, get two more questions per chapter in most cases.

If you don't use Word, these files should open OK in the free versions of OpenOffice or NeoOffice (a version of OpenOffice specifically for the Mac). Teachers or parents can, of course, reformat the questions-only part of the Word files into a continuous question paper to print and use as an end-of-topic test if they wish.

Home-schooling parents who feel that any full explanation doesn't cover their particular worries should contact me via the address on the about this site page of Chemguide for help. If it is something that I feel might be of help to others, I will add an even more detailed explanation online. Obviously, I can't change material which is already on the CD.

Animations and interactive material

You will find a limited number of animations and other interactive material scattered throughout the ActiveBook. These were recycled from previous Pearson group publications, and the standard isn't very high. However, your main source of this sort of material should be from the list of video and other resources on this site.

Help for Apple (and other non-Windows) users

The CD will only work on Windows-based machines. As an Apple devotee, I objected to this, but lost - so I apologise. However, if you are an Apple user, there is a way around this without losing anything essential. If you use another operating system (Linux, for example), I'm afraid you will have to work this out for yourself using information from below.

The disc can be read by an Apple Mac, although the ActiveBook component which drives everything else won't actually run. However, most of the really useful stuff on the CD is in the form of pdf or Word files, and these can be accessed and used in their entirety. Specifically, you should be able to get at:

  • the syllabus statements;

  • the checklists;

  • the Edexcel exam questions;

  • the Word versions of the multiple choice questions;

  • various animated or interactive material.

How to access the material if the ActiveBook won't run on your system

If you are familiar with the Mac operating system, please don't feel insulted by the step-by-step approach that follows! I have to do it in such a way that anyone can get the information, even if it is the first time they have used their new iMac or MacBook Pro or whatever.

Insert the disc and wait for it to power up. If you have nothing else cluttering your screen, you can double click on the disc icon to open a Finder window showing its contents.

If you have other software already on the screen, open a Finder window by clicking on the Finder icon in the Dock. Click on the IGCSE Chemistry against the disc icon at the left-hand side. If you don't have that, click on the small grey lozenge at the top of the window to add all this useful stuff to your view.

I personally find it easier to use these Finder windows in column format, but you can use whatever layout you want to. You can switch to column format by clicking the little icon showing 3 columns at the top of the window. Again, if you haven't got that, add this additional stuff by clicking on the small grey lozenge.

To find the information, click on the at folder followed by the content folder in the next column (or wherever you can find it if you are using a different format view).

Finally, click on the atm folder to get to the level where all the files live. All the pdf and .doc files can just be opened by double clicking on them.

Towards the end of each file name, you will find numbers like "02", "14" and "26". These refer to the chapter numbers, except in the files of Edexcel questions, where they just refer to the question number.

The syllabus statements

These are the files ranging from "id201" to "id226" and all ending with "lob.pdf".

The checklists

These are the files ranging from "id227" to "id252" and all ending with "chk.pdf".

The Edexcel exam questions

These are the files ranging from "id253" to "id272" and all ending with "exq.pdf". Confusingly, there are three files in here which seem to be blank! They all have numbers just before the ".pdf" - e.g. "exq.2.pdf". I pointed these out to the editorial team well before the disc went to production, but they obviously never got around to tidying it up.

If you open these files, each one tells you at the top of the first page which chapter(s) you should have covered in order to answer the question. I'm afraid there is no option other than to open each question file to find out what is relevant - or perhaps better, save them all up until the end for revision purposes.

The Word versions of the multiple choice questions

Sorry - this is where it gets complicated. First of all ignore all the folders which end with "mcq". These contain data for the interactive versions of the multiple choice questions which thankfully won't run on the Mac.

If you look closely, you will find that there are two complete sets of Word (".doc") files. Again, this should never have happened! Many of the duplicates are the same, but there are differences in file length. I have managed to spot some corrections having been made, but it would take hours and hours to go through each one to pick up every change.

I suggest you use the set with the higher id numbers - it would seem logical that corrected proofs should have higher numbers than uncorrected ones. So use the files with names beginning "id299" to "id324", and ending "mcq.doc". If you find problems with any of this content, check back to the earlier files with the same ending to see if it helps. In fact, the changes between the two versions will be largely cosmetic, with a couple of faulty diagrams replaced and the odd "sulphur" turned into "sulfur".

Please tell me about any snags you come across. Even if I can't do anything about the contents of the disc, I can, of course, warn other users.

Animations, etc

These have id numbers in the range "id325" to "id338", and are mainly swf files (Shockwave Flash) plus two PowerPoint presentations. The swf files can be opened in a browser. Click on "Open file" (or similar) from the browser's File menu, and then navigate your way to these files on the CD. The number towards the end of the file name is the chapter where the animation is most relevant.

If you try to open one of the PowerPoint files in your browser, PowerPoint (or whatever alternative program you use, like NeoOffice) will open instead.

I have only checked these files through Firefox, and they work as well as they are going to. Two of the animations contain flawed diagrams ("id326" and "id330"). The first is obvious; you might not notice the second one!

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© Jim Clark 2009 (modified November 2011)