This blog post is aimed at students who are about to embark on their IB diploma – if you are reading this – well done so far! The fact that you have decided to do some chemistry reading already is a good sign (or maybe you are on an OSC pre-IB summer school and have been told by your teacher to look it up!)

So, what can you do to get ahead of the game for when your teaching starts? The first thing I would recommend is to get a good text book. You may not be aware of this but the IB chemistry course is about to change – and you will be the first cohort of students to go through it.

Some of the changes to the course is content based (we need to teach about ‘new’ things, eg, graphene, formal charge), some changes reflect different ways of thinking about the same concepts (look up Van Der Waals forces and intermolecular forces), some changes involve the ‘formalising’ of good science (this is referred to as the Nature of Science, something your teacher  will have always covered with you anyway) and some changes involve the moving of what used to be ‘option units’ to part of the core curriculum.

Oh, internal assessment has been radically overhauled and the format of the exams have also changed – although, this will impact more on your teacher than on you.

As the course is changing, a plethora of new text books have been released (or are going to be released soon).  I need to stay impartial here – I can’t recommend any book in particular, but OSC will be releasing a chemistry revision guide soon as well as the major publishers – Oxford, Cambridge, Hodder and Pearson. All books are written by well respected and much experienced chemistry teachers and examiners.

Just a word of warning – if you are going to buy a new book, check it is for the new course (examinations in 2016).

What else can you do to get ahead of the game?


Here is a list of 10 things I would be recommending all ‘prep’ IB students to ensure they are confident with:

1, Can you name substances from their formula?

2, Can you write formula for substances names?

3, Can you write word equations?

4, Can you write symbol equations?

5, Can you convert word equation into fully balanced word equations?

6, What is a mole?

7, What is Avogadro’s number?

8, How do you work out the Ar or Mr?

9, How do you calculate moles of solids, liquids or gases?

10, What is RTP?

One last thing – enjoy it! The above is not the most stimulating of topics but it covers the basics – and if you want to enjoy and more importantly understand chemistry, you need to get these basics right to enjoy the interesting stuff.

Good luck!