A Level Chemistry 9701 syllabus 2024

30 October 2023

Understanding the A Level fundamental concepts equips students with the knowledge to explore deeper and more specific areas of chemistry and its applications in various industries.
Cambridge International AS & A Level Chemistry 9701 is one of the many qualifications offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). CAIE is an international examination board that provides qualifications to students across the world. They have a legacy of offering international examinations for over 160 years, with roots tracing back to the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) established in 1858.

Atoms and forces in Chemistry

The foundation of the universe is built upon tiny particles called atoms. These atoms don’t exist in isolation but interact with each other through forces, mainly electrostatic. This interaction leads to the formation of bonds between atoms, resulting in molecules and compounds. The specific arrangement and type of bonding affect the physical and chemical properties of a substance. This arrangement dictates how a substance reacts chemically, leading to countless chemical reactions that govern our world.

Chemical processes:

At the heart of chemistry lies chemical reactions, which involve a transformation in the way atoms are bonded together. This transformation results in new substances. Using chemical processes, we can create new compounds (synthesis), break down mixtures into their individual components (separation), and even refine substances to obtain a higher degree of purity.

Energy changes:

Every chemical reaction is associated with a change in energy. Depending on the reaction, energy can be either absorbed from or released into the surroundings. This change in energy has practical applications; for instance, it can be harnessed to do work, like in batteries, or it can be released as heat to warm up our surroundings.

Rates of reaction:

Not all chemical reactions occur at the same speed. The rate of reaction measures how quickly reactants transform into products. Several factors can influence this rate, such as how concentrated the reactants are, the physical form (e.g., solid, liquid, gas) and the surface area they present, the temperature at which the reaction occurs, and the presence or absence of catalysts which can speed up the reaction without being consumed.


Some reactions are reversible, meaning once the products are formed, they can react among themselves to reproduce the original reactants. When the speed of the forward reaction matches the speed of the backward reaction, it’s said to be in equilibrium. At this point, while the reactions continue to occur, there is no net change in the concentration of reactants or products.

Redox processes:

Redox, short for reduction-oxidation, processes are fundamental in chemistry. These reactions involve the transfer of electrons between substances. The donor loses electrons (oxidation) and the acceptor gains electrons (reduction). These processes are pivotal not only in various chemical reactions but also play essential roles in biological systems like respiration and industrial processes like metal extraction.

University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES)

over the past 30 years, the general approach to marking and assessment in international education and within CAIE’s portfolio of examinations has seen several changes:

Greater Emphasis on Understanding: In the earlier days, exams might have placed a heavier emphasis on rote learning and recall. Modern exams, like the Chemistry 9701, now focus more on understanding, application, and skills rather than just knowledge recall.

Introduction of Technology: Digitalisation has played a role in how exams are marked. Computer-based exams and digital marking systems have been introduced, which offer greater efficiency and accuracy in marking and results distribution.

Standardisation and Training: The process of marking has become more rigorous, with regular training sessions for examiners and standardisation meetings to ensure consistency in marking across different examiners.

Transparency and Feedback: CAIE and other examination boards now offer more transparency in their marking. There’s the provision for detailed examiner reports after every examination series, giving insights into common student mistakes and providing clarity on how marks were awarded for various questions.

Modular to Linear Transition: Many A-level courses, including chemistry, used to be modular, meaning students could take exams for individual modules or units at different times. However, there has been a shift towards linear courses, where students typically take all exams at the end of their study period. This change has implications for marking and grade boundaries as it affects the distribution of student performance.

Grade Boundaries: The way grade boundaries are set has evolved to reflect the difficulty of papers and ensure fairness. This process ensures that students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by a particular year’s paper being easier or harder than usual.

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