Understanding Chemistry



You can get all the books on this page quickly and easily from Amazon.co.uk. You can, of course, also buy the books from normal bookshops. However, these days few bookshops keep much beyond the standard revision guides, and so you will probably have to order what you want.

I have split the page into recommendations and suggestions. It is impossible to recommend a book unless you are familiar with it, and the only one I am really familiar with is my chemistry calculations book. That should be useful whatever syllabus you are doing.

For the suggestions, I am giving you links into Amazon.co.uk for books for each of the main UK syllabuses, but I don't claim to be familiar with the majority of the books listed. You should compare the reviews of the books by following the links to the Amazon site.

Required statement from Amazon:  Jim Clark is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.


My calculations book

Click on the link to take you to the Amazon.co.uk site for more information including all the reviews.

Calculations in AS / A Level Chemistry

You will find more details about my calculations book on its own page if you are interested.


These suggestions cover UK-based Chemistry courses for 16-18 year olds, including A level, IB and Scottish Highers. If you want to make life as easy as possible for yourself, I think there is a lot to be said for using books designed especially to cover your particular syllabus. The content is then exactly what you need - and no more.

The alternative is to use a short revision guide for all the facts, and to get your explanations in detail from a website like Chemguide. I'm not going to give you details for general revision guides - you need to look at these in a bookshop so that you can see how easy they are to follow. They are very variable - some are much more confusing than others.

Books for specific syllabuses

UK A level syllabuses

Important: UK A level syllabuses sometimes undergo major changes.

If you happened to be starting a course when one of these changes takes effect, then you must be aware that a textbook covering the previous syllabus won't necessarily cover everything in the new one.

Where there are major changes, new syllabuses are usually published perhaps 18 months before the new courses start, and this gives publishers enough time to produce new books if they want to.

So if you are caught up in this, I suggest you go for the most recently published book you can. Anything published more than about a year before you start the course may not cover all you need.

You need to talk to your teacher to find out whether there have been any big syllabus changes for the exam you will be taking. Alternatively, you can check yourself by downloading the correct syllabus from your Exam Board. Find your syllabus using the link to "Download syllabuses" from the Main Menu.

Changes to a syllabus are commonly marked with a thick vertical line opposite the affected statement. (But check the beginning of the syllabus to make sure that is how your Exam Board does it.)

Note:  This page originally had Amazon search boxes to find books for the individual syllabuses, but it has been unreliable and so I have simplified it to a single Amazon search box and a list of terms for you to copy into it.

Using the Amazon search box

Copy and paste the following search phrases into the keywords box:

for AQA: aqa level chemistry

for Edexcel: edexcel level chemistry

for OCR: ocr -salters -B level chemistry

for Salters: salters level chemistry

for WJEC: wjec chemistry

for CCEA: ccea level chemistry

for IB: ib diploma chemistry

for Scottish Highers: scottish higher chemistry

Note:  If you don't see an Amazon search box above, it is may be worth trying a different browser. If that doesn't work either, just go to Amazon and do your own search.

Cambridge International (CIE) A level Chemistry

CIE A level chemistry is now on a new syllabus, and textbooks have been updated. There are major changes between the new and the old syllabuses, and so it is essential that you get the right book.

Cambridge International AS and A Level Chemistry Coursebook with CD-ROM

If you come across copies of the older CIE A level chemistry books, ignore them, however cheap they might be - they don't match the current syllabus. The same applies to accompanying revision guides - a new version is being released in November 2015. Anything you find with a publication date before that is useless to you.

Go to Main Menu . . .

© Jim Clark 2008 (last December 2017)