In this section

Find an IB World School

The IB in

Chemistry

Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is often called the central science as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is often a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science and environmental science.

Through studying a science subject students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, the emphasis on a practical approach. In addition, through the overarching theme of the “Nature of Science” this knowledge and skills will be put into the context of way science and scientists work in the 21st Century and the ethical debates and limitations of creative scientific endeavour.

The sciences are taught practically. Students have opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings. The investigations may be laboratory based or they may make use of simulations and data bases. Students develop the skills to work independently on their own design, but also collegiately, including collaboration with schools in different regions, to mirror the way in which scientific research is conducted in the wider community.

Chemistry syllabus outline:

Higher level (240 hours)

  • Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20%
  • External assessment: 80%

Standard level (150 hours)

  • Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20%
  • External assessment: 80%

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • Chemistry students at SL and HL undertake a common core syllabus and a common internal assessment (IA) scheme.
  • While there are core skills and activities common to both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, to study additional topics and to study extension material of a more demanding nature in the options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.
  • A practical approach to the course delivery is emphasised through the interdisciplinary group 4 project and a mixture of both short-term and long-term experiments and investigations.
  • Internal assessment accounts for 20% of the final assessment and this is assessed through a single individual investigation. This investigation may involve a hands-on approach, use of data-bases, modelling, simulation or a hybrid. Student work is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB.

The external assessment of chemistry consists of three written papers. In paper 1 there are 30 (at SL) or 40 (at HL) multiple-choice questions. Paper 2 contains short-answer and extended-response questions on the core (and Additional Higher Level (AHL) material at HL). Paper 3 has two sections; Section A contains one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work on the core (and AHL material at HL). Section B contains short-answer and extended-response questions from each of the four options

Much of this information is taken directly from the chemistry subject guide, available to all IB teachers on the Online Curriculum Centre (OCC).

Find out more

Read about similar studies in the Middle Years Programme and Primary Years Programme.