10 of the best online resources for Chemistry A Level

ten best online resources A Level chemistry

Predicted papers for OCR A and AQA A Level chemistry 2023 are now available to download!

With so many students forced into remote learning, it can be difficult to sort through the options available to find the best online material. While my list is probably by no means comprehensive, what I have tried to do – like a true scientist – is apply careful selection criteria. The websites I have chosen:

  • Are used regularly by me, by the students I teach, or both
  • Contain material appropriate to UK specifications
  • Contain material that is not unique to one exam board
  • Are free to use (a few have subscription options, and some require email registration)
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Best for notes

Although I am often told that nobody reads any more, I know from my own experience that sometimes students just want some comprehensive written notes to supplement their textbook and revision guide. The following two websites are a little old-school but are otherwise very reliable sources of written information (and diagrams).

Chemguide

As a teacher, I sometimes turn to Chemguide when I am trying to think of a good way to explain a tricky concept. I can’t think of a better endorsement than that, other than that the author, Jim Clark, is a prolific author of some excellent textbooks and a real authority. Don’t be put off by the dated appearance of the website – good chemistry knowledge doesn’t age…

Need to know: This is not really a website for browsing – you want to use it when you have a definitive topic you want to understand better. Make notes as you go through and check back with your own books as some sections might go into more detail than you need. There are very few calculations on this website, because the author has produced a book on this (Calculations in AS/A Level Chemistry). It’s an excellent book which you can often pick up second hand.

Knockhardy notes

Again, don’t be put off by appearances and the fact the site hasn’t been updated for a while – nothing much in chemistry has changed! This link takes you to a page of very comprehensive notes for different topics – it’s arranged according to the OCR syllabus but the clear titles make it relatively easy to navigate for other courses. 

Need to know: At the top of the notes page is a link to the ‘Powerpoints’ page of the website. These powerpoints are designed to work alongside the notes, and the notes have short questions to answer as you go through, keeping them interactive. Like the Chemguide website above, some areas are covered in more detail than is absolutely required by your course, but this usually helps you understand the material better.

Best YouTube channels

Update: click here for a more up to date list of Chemistry YouTube channels!

A lot of students find videos easier to follow than text alone, but it can be overwhelming to find the best material on a massive platform such as YouTube, especially since A Level chemistry isn’t exactly #trending. These are my top four channels for finding clear, uncluttered explainer videos. 

Science with Hazel

YouTube favourite Hazel covers GCSE and A Level so the link above is to her A Level/IB Chemistry playlist. It’s not huge, but it does cover some topics students regularly find challenging (calculations, intermolecular forces) and the list is being updated.

Dr Beattie’s Chemistry Essentials

Videos are arranged into playlists according to topics/modules so the channel is easy to navigate. There are some very good calculation videos and each one includes example exam questions to help put it into context.

Freesciencelessons

More well known for his IGCSE content, this channel does contain an A Level chemistry playlist which is small but being updated regularly. 

SnapRevise

This is the most commercial of the channels, so you will have to put up with a lot of calls to subscribe to their website. However, there is a good list of chemistry videos and they also run ‘study clubs’ – regular live videos to go over particular concepts.

Best for past paper practice

Past paper questions are simply one of the best ways to practice for the real thing – but if you’re going to do them, do them properly. Test conditions, no notes and time yourself (one minute per mark) before letting yourself look at the mark scheme. It may feel uncomfortable to do this – good! The discomfort is all part of the learning…

Physics and Maths Tutor

Most people know about PMT. It’s a quick and easy place to find past paper questions and mark schemes grouped by syllabus and topic area, and PMT also includes flashcards, notes and video links for some topics.

Need to know: If you’re looking for something specific, try opening the questions in separate tabs rather than just clicking on the links – it saves a lot of back-and-forth. If you want to print a lot of questions for a topic, check through the pdf files first for any pages you can miss out. The alignment can be a little off and some pages contain mostly empty space.

A-Level Chemistry

This is another website that’s been around for a while and hasn’t been updated, but the majority of the content is still relevant and, like PMT, the questions are grouped into topic areas. 

Need to know: this website can be a little hard to navigate. Under the specifications tab, you will find three main places to find past questions: legacy OCR, legacy AQA and AQA. As mentioned above, even if you are doing a different exam board a lot of the content is very similar. Clicking on the ‘AQA’ link will give you the clearest topic list, but if you are currently doing OCR then ‘legacy OCR’ will be your closest match. The unit numbers don’t match the new exams, but they are in roughly chronological order. If you are looking for first year content use Units 1 and 2, second year content in 4 and 5. Units 3 and 6 contain practical instructions.

predicted paper downloads for OCR A Level chemistry 2023 now available
Predicted and practice papers available to download for OCR A Level Chemistry 2023

Best of the Rest

Royal Society of Chemistry

This is a vast website so I’ve included the link to secondary teaching resources. Although generally used by teachers, there’s no reason students can’t access the resources (you do have to sign up using your email address). 

Need to know: Best resources for students are the ‘starters for ten’ worksheets – short (but not always simple!) worksheets grouped by topic and including answers. Screen experiments and Phet simulations are very good quality but quite limited in the topics covered. The analysis section is a superb grouping of resources on infrared, mass spectrometry and NMR techniques.

Seneca Learning

Seneca are making their basic online courses free during the pandemic and they have courses for all of the major UK exam boards which are easy to search by subject. Their main attraction is the interactivity and variety – you are presented with text, diagrams and videos and asked questions as you go through.

Need to know: Seneca is good for confidence building, and making you study more actively. Don’t rely on it too heavily, however, as it can’t really ask the kinds of in-depth, unstructured questions you are going to encounter on your course. Try using Seneca to brush up on a topic before using real past paper questions to check your understanding more thoroughly.

Claire Costello-Kelly

Claire Costello-Kelly

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