Chemguide: Support for CIE A level Chemistry

New CIE A level Chemistry Coursebook

Cambridge University Press (CUP) have just published (January 2011) a brand new book covering the whole of the CIE A level chemistry course, including the Applications section. The book includes a useful CD-ROM which has answers to all the end-of-chapter questions amongst other things. The CD-ROM is usable by both PCs and Macs.

The book has been written by a completely different set of authors from the old book and the Applications Support Booklet - and it shows!

The new book is written in an extremely student-friendly way. CIE examiners were involved during the production of the book, and so the contents should closely match the current syllabus.

That's not to say that there won't be mistakes in the book, and perhaps odd bits missed out (see below). That is fairly inevitable in a new book like this, however much care is taken over it. I know from my own experience that, however many people check the book however many times, you never find the last mistake until after the work is published.

I have so far only read parts of the book, but I have no hesitation in recommending it. It is fairly expensive, but if you can possibly afford it, buy it. It should make your life a lot easier.

You can find out more about it by following the Amazon links below. Both the Amazon graphic and the text link underneath will take you to the right page. Don't click on the "Buy" button unless you actually want to buy it. It will put a copy in your shopping basket.

Cambridge International AS and A Level Chemistry Coursebook with CD-ROM

Although this link is to, you can still buy from them wherever you are in the world, but obviously delivery charges add to the cost. You can find delivery costs from links from this Amazon help page.

A Hong Kong student recently told me that delivery of a book from took about 2 weeks.

Check to see whether you could get the book more cheaply or faster from a supplier nearer to you.


These are the errors that I have found so far. They relate to the first print run of the first edition of the book, and should disappear at the first reprint in summer 2011.

Chapter 8: Equilibria

Page 131: Check-up question 2a(ii)

A bit of careless chemistry has slipped in here. It isn't molecules which are still moving into solution, but ions.

Page 134: Check-up question 5a

The left-hand side of the equation should have CO2, not CO.

Chapter 10: Periodicity

Page 170: Table 10.10

The relative melting point for magnesium oxide should read "very high". Its melting point is higher than both aluminium oxide and silicon dioxide.

Chapter 21: Reaction kinetics

Page 344: Last bullet point of the summary list

This is actually about heterogeneous catalysis, not homogeneous catalysis.

Chapter 28: The chemistry of life

Page 431: Figure 28.44

The base sequence given is wrong. This diagram was taken (obviously without enough thought) from the awful Applications Support Booklet. I have already commented on this in detail on another page. You will find it listed under "page 40", where you will also find the correct base sequence.

I have discussed this with one of the authors of the book, and it will be corrected at the first repint.

Chapter 29: Applications of analytical chemistry

Page 454: First paragraph of second column

The range for the -CH2- hydrogens should be 3.3 - 4.3 because they are attached to an oxygen atom. The value quoted doesn't correspond with the spectrum.


These are more difficult for the publishers to put right, because they affect the layout of the book. These are unlikely to be corrected until a second edition of the book.

The following are things I have noticed, or have been pointed out to me, so far:

Syllabus statement 7(f)

This says that candidates should be able to "calculate the quantities present at equilibrium, given appropriate data (such calculations will not require the solving of quadratic equations)."

That hasn't been covered in the book, despite it having been asked in three separate CIE questions between 2007 and 2010.

You will find this covered in the Chemguide CIE page about statement 7(f).

Syllabus statements 10.6(a) and 10.6(b)(i) and (ii)

These are statements needed for the first year (the AS year) of the course, and involve introductory bits of carboxylic acid chemistry. There is no specific section of the book which deals with these.

Statement 10.6(a)

Most of this is covered in various places in the book. The formation of carboxylic acids from primary alcohols is mentioned as a reaction of alcohols on page 243. The formation from aldehydes is mentioned in passing on page 247 under the preparation of aldehydes and ketones.

The formation from nitriles is mentioned in passing on page 249 as a part of a section on the addition of HCN to carbon-oxygen double bonds, but I can't find any way of accessing that page to find this particular bit of information from the index. It certainly isn't where you would expect to find it.

You will find all this on the Chemguide CIE page about statement 10.6(a).

Statement 10.6(b)(i) and (ii)

The formation of salts isn't dealt with anywhere that I can find in the book to the sort of level suggested by the teacher support material.

The formation of esters can be found in the chapter on alcohols and esters on page 241.

You will find all this on the Chemguide CIE page about statement 10.6(b).

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© Jim Clark March 2011 (last updated August 2011)