Monthly Archives: April 2014

AQA Organic Mechanisms

I have produced a couple of summary files for AQA organic mechanisms.

The files are below and on the AQA revision guide page.



Remember you learn mechanisms best by understanding what they mean and by drawing them out lots. Careful positioning of arrows is essential. For AQA an arrow must start from the centre of a bond or a lone pair.

For understanding mechanisms I can recommend mechanism inspector from the RSC. Well worth an explore.


Edexcel Chemistry A-level Revision Guides

I have now completed the A-level revision guides for the Edexcel Chemistry A-level to complete the set with AQA and OCR. Make sure you go to the correct menu.  These are the first draft for the Edexcel so comments are welcome. I did used to teach Nuffield Chemistry which a lot of this course is based on so much seemed familiar to me.

Revision Time

I had a message asking if I was going to give any revision advice and hints about what will be good to learn. I suspect the person was hoping I would have a clairvoyant ability to know what will be in the exam. I am sorry to say I don’t. I will, however, give some general advice about revision.

1. Start now

2. Read, understand and sort your revision notes out first. Understanding is the key to doing well. There are always students who try to succeed at A-level by learning by heart the answer to every past question but don’t understand it. That is not going to get you a high grade. You will meet lots of questions that will involve applying your understanding.

My notes on here were written as memory aids for my students who I had assumed had understood the main concepts in their lessons. So if you read something on my revision notes you don’t understand, you should go back to your lesson work, textbook, teacher for help. I can also recommend for good explanations.

3. Look at past papers. All the major exam boards have them on their websites. Don’t try to do them as mock exams at the start. Use them to get familiar with the sorts of questions that get asked. When you find questions you can’t do, go back to your notes and try to work out what might be wrong. Are you missing ideas/ facts from your notes? Do you need more explanation?

4. When you are happy with the big concepts start concentrating on finer detail. Make sure you are using the correct definitions- these can vary between exam boards. Do your explanations for things like le Chatelier, reaction rates and ionisation energies have the right detail in them? These tend to be areas people understand but lose valuable marks through sloppy explanations. Do your curly arrows in mechanisms start and end in the right place? The list goes on as there is lots of fine detail and it is crucial you know it. In my experience it is often the fine detail that makes the difference at AS between A and C grades rather than major problems in understanding.

5. Don’t cut corners in your revision. You need to expect questions on everything in the syllabus.

OCR Chemistry A-level Revision Guides

You will find a new page with OCR A-level Chemistry A revision guides. They are based on my original AQA guides but are completely rearranged to follow the OCR module structure. I have reviewed all content to make sure it is consistent with OCR syllabus and past papers, so there have been lots of things removed and quite a few things added. I’m not claiming they are perfect so am happy for comments for improvements etc.