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Chemistry is the study of matter, the particles they are made of, and how these particles interact with each other. This covers how the atoms make up molecules, what happens when they react - the energy absorbed or released and the new substances formed during these chemical reactions. Everything in the world we can see or touch or smell is a chemical meaning Chemistry is a part of everything we do in our lives. Matter made up of atoms; pure substances with one type of atom only are called elements; those made from molecules, more than one type of atom bound together are called compounds. This means that chemistry is at the heart of everything in the world, from naturally occurring structures such as rivers and mountains, to the materials used to build the tallest skyscrapers or make up the most complex medicines.
At GCSE level students usually take Chemistry as a single science, resulting in one stand alone GCSE, usually with Physics and Biology also taken as separate sciences alongside, resulting in three GCSEs in total; or as part of Dual or Combined Science, where a reduced syllabus of all three Sciences are taken resulting in two or one GCSE.
The exam format is typically two written papers, each 1 hour and forty five minutes long. Topics studied can include Atomic Structure, the Periodic Table, Chemical Bonds and the Structure of Matter, Physical and Chemical Changes, Energy Changes in Reactions, Organic Chemistry, Chemical Analysis, The Atmosphere, Industrial Processes. There will also be questions set based on the practical activities students have carried out throughout the course.
At A-Level the assessment is linear, with examinations taken at the end of two years for A-Level. Typically this will involve three papers each two hours long for A-Level. Students will also have practical skills assessed throughout the course and also have to answer questions based on practical activities. The three main area of study are Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, but with significantly more analysis and use of mathematics than at GCSE level.
A-Level Chemistry can lead on to a wide variety of University Courses and careers including Biochemistry, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Dentistry, Geology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science amongst many others.