Have you managed to download the chemistry subject report for the May examination session? They have been on the OCC for a few weeks now and are handily arranged into two pdf files according to the time zone.

After reading through them there are a few things that are worth picking up and sharing with you.

Firstly, the Internal Assessment. This is always a bone of contention although the examiners report is very positive (the cynical side of me wonders if this I because we are almost at the end of the current course. School has had six years to refine their lab work and their marking. They know what works and what doesn’t work. Plus, I also wonder if moderators are softening up – they know that the current system has almost run its course [Just my personal viewpoint!]

The main thing I get from reading this is that it would be advisable for Design labs to actually be carried out – it is not really in the spirit of the practical programme to get students to only plan l abs (the chief moderator picked up on the fact that one candidate asked for two solid gold 10cm electrodes ….)

It also seems as if Conclusion and Evaluation is the hardest criteria to score highly on. In particular, with aspect 1 being demanding in terms of hitting all the right points (state a conclusion, find out the literature value, come up with an overall percentage error and then discuss the significance of this with respect to random or systematic errors – whichever is the largest).

With regards to the written papers, I was surprised to read that there were 11% more candidates at HL and 13% more candidates at SL this year than in May 2013 – this could be for a number of reasons but it does seem a large jump!

Comments from teachers regarding both SL and HL paper 1 indicated that it was a fair paper and that the wording of the questions was fair. It seems fair to say that teachers were happy with paper.

The chief examiner wrote that in HL paper 2, the following points were not answered very well – so maybe this is something that you need to target as part of your teaching:

  • Experimental uncertainties and their propagation
  • Interpreting practical situations and experimental data
  • Explaining aqueous solubility of substances
  • Factors affecting the product of the reaction of a halogenoalkane with an alkali
  • Writing redox half equations and combining these to produce balanced equations
  • Deducing rate expressions from mechanisms
  • Interpreting rate of reaction data
  • Writing precise definitions

We know that of all of the papers, paper 3 is going to undergo the most changes. This year however, it is noted in the subject report than no examiners reported on candidates attempting to answer more than two options. This is, I believe, the first time this has happened! It was noted that overall (ie, at SL & HL) options C was the least popular – what options do you do?

Remember, these are the subject reports for the ‘old’ course and there are only two examinations left for this – November 2014, which is currently well underway and May 2015.

Have you spotted anything significant that I have missed out or is there anything else covered in this article that is still unclear? If so, please feel free to leave your comments / questions below – I would love to hear from you!