CHEMISTRY TEXTBOOK SUGGESTIONS
You can get all the books on this page quickly and easily from Amazon.co.uk. You can, of course, also buy the books from normal bookshops. However, these days few bookshops keep much beyond the standard revision guides, and so you will probably have to order what you want.
I have split the page into recommendations and suggestions. It is impossible to recommend a book unless you are familiar with it, and the only one I am really familiar with is my chemistry calculations book. That should be useful whatever syllabus you are doing.
For the suggestions, I am giving you links into Amazon.co.uk for books for each of the main UK syllabuses, but I don't claim to be familiar with the majority of the books listed. You should compare the reviews of the books by following the links to the Amazon site.
Click on the title or the picture to take you to the Amazon.co.uk site for more information including all the reviews.
Note: If you don't see an image here, it is probably because you are using ad-block software. The simplest way around this is to disable it temporarily and then reload this page.
You will find more details about my calculations book on its own page on this site with a further link to Amazon if you are interested.
Prior to September 2008, I also recommended Advanced Level Practical Work for Chemistry by Andrew Hunt, which would be really useful to anyone struggling with chemistry practical at AS or A level - especially for practical assessment or practical exams. I have also described that in detail on another page. Unfortunately this is now out of print, but if you can find a second-hand copy, you should buy it.
These suggestions cover UK-based Chemistry courses for 16-18 year olds, including A level, IB and Scottish Highers. If you want to make life as easy as possible for yourself, I think there is a lot to be said for using books designed especially to cover your particular syllabus. The content is then exactly what you need - and no more.
The alternative is to use a short revision guide for all the facts, and to get your explanations in detail from a website like Chemguide. I'm not going to give you details for general revision guides - you need to look at these in a bookshop so that you can see how easy they are to follow. They are very variable - some are much more confusing than others.
Books for specific syllabuses
UK A level syllabuses
Important: UK A level syllabuses changed in September 2008.
The new syllabuses were introduced for teaching in 2008, with 2009 being the first AS exam, and 2010 the first final exam. Textbooks written for older syllabuses won't necessarily cover everything you need for the new ones.
That means that when you are looking for a book, look carefully at the publication date. Anything published before late 2007 is likely to be out-of-date for the new syllabuses.
Each of the following displays is a simplified window onto the Amazon.co.uk site, and in each case, I have used a search term mostly in the form (exam group) level chemistry. This should pick up all the relevant AS and A level texts for that particular syllabus. Clicking on any of the books will take you to a normal Amazon page where you can read the reviews.
In case you notice it, the "Get Widget" button at the bottom of each window leads you to a page where you can set up a similar window for your own website. There doesn't seem to be any way of getting rid of that, so just ignore it!
Click on the link below to take you to the right window for your syllabus.
Note: I can't guarantee that the rest of this page will work properly in all browsers. It works in Firefox, Netscape 9, Safari, Opera and Camino on my Apple Mac. It also works in IE for Windows at my local library (version 6?). It doesn't work properly in my ancient version of IE5 on the Mac.
If you don't find working windows into the Amazon site in the rest of the page, please see the bottom of the page where I will apologise properly and provide an alternative.
Other A level-equivalent syllabuses
The statement in red above doesn't apply to any of these syllabuses.
(Care! Don't get confused with the Salters syllabus also produced by OCR. That is also known as OCR Chemistry B. The list below excludes books designed for Salters.)
CCEA seem to be about to publish a series of books covering individual units of the CCEA chemistry AS and A level course. The first of these (for Unit 1) is due to be published at the end of 2012.
I've added the window into Amazon now (April 2012) because I shall probably forget to do it nearer the time. The search should produce a more useful set of results as these books become available.
I notice that the author of the new Unit 1 book has also produced a GCSE revision guide for CCEA which you may be familiar with.
Make sure that you only look at editions published from 2007 onwards to allow for syllabus changes.
You will find lots of references below, but some are quite old. Treat this with some care, and take advice from your teachers and other people who are following the same course.
Cambridge International (CIE) A level Chemistry
CIE published a new book in January 2011 covering the whole of the A level course, including the Applications section. The book includes a CD-ROM.
This 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 - quite unlike the Applications Support Booklet. The introduction to the book claims:
That's not to say that there won't be mistakes in the book, and perhaps odd bits missed out. That is fairly inevitable in a new book 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 link below.
If you come across copies of the older CIE A level chemistry books (the most recent one published in 2004), ignore them, however cheap they might be - they don't match the current syllabus.
Apologies if the page doesn't work in your browser!
Few things irritate me more than pages which don't work properly in the browser of my choice. Anyone who has used, say, Safari on an Apple Mac in the past will know the feeling when you are told that you are using an "illegal browser". (That actually happened to me!) And now I am falling into the same trap myself!
In order to get reliably up-to-date lists of books without me having to trawl through Amazon every few weeks, I decided this time to make use of code provided by Amazon to open windows into their site. It simply makes life a great deal easier for me, and provides a better service to most of my audience. Obviously, Amazon will provide code which works on the majority of current browsers - but that's not much consolation if you use a less common one, and so I apologise.
There is also a way around it, although in not such an elegant way . . .
Copy and paste the following search phrases into the keywords box:
for AQA: aqa level chemistry
for Edexcel: edexcel level chemistry
for OCR: ocr -salters -B level chemistry
for Salters: salters level chemistry
for WJEC: wjec chemistry
for CCEA: ccea level chemistry
for IB: ib diploma chemistry
for Scottish Highers: scottish higher chemistry
Note: If you don't see an Amazon search box here, it is probably because you are using ad-block software. The simplest way around this is to disable it temporarily and then reload this page.
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© Jim Clark 2008 (last updated April 2012)