Getting your practical programme together

Hopefully, by now you will have had time to reflect on the new course and start thinking about your practical programme (PSOW).

It is my intention of this blog post ot give you some ideas of things you can add to your PSOW.
Are you aware of the ten mandatory labs / skills that you are expected to teach your students?
These are listed in the guide ….. but they are not very clear. If you look at the biology guide you will see that they are signposted ‘experiment 1’, ‘experiment 2’, etc – but not in chemistry. [Don’t ask me why….] So here they are:

  • Topic 1.2 The obtaining and use of experimental data for deriving empirical formulas from reactions involving mass changes.
  • Topic 1.3 Use of the experimental method of titration to calculate the concentration of a solution by reference to a standard solution.
  • Topic 1.3 Obtaining and the use of experimental values to calculate the molar mass of a gas from the ideal gas equation.
  • Topic 5.1 A calorimetry experiment for an enthalpy of reaction should be covered and the results evaluated.
  • Topic 6.1 Investigation of rates of reaction experimentally and evaluation of the results.
  • Topic 8.2 Candidates should have experience of acid-base titrations with different indicators.
  • Topic 8.3 Students should be familiar with the use of a pH meter and universal indicator.
  • Topic 9.1 Application of the Winkler Method to calculate BOD *
  • Topic 9.2 Performance of laboratory experiments involving a typical voltaic cell using two metal/metal-ion half-cells.
  • Topic 10.1 Construction of 3D models (real or virtual) of organic molecules.
  • Topic 15.1 Perform lab experiments which could include single replacement reactions in aqueous solutions. (either here or 19.1)
  • Topic 19.1 Perform lab experiments which could include single replacement reactions in aqueous solutions.

Hang on, I hear you say – you said ten mandatory skills – but I can count twelve.
Let me explain, the skill in topic 15.1 is the same as 19.1.
I have also included topic 9.1, the Winkler method (*) – although it is not a mandatory skill, I do feel students need a working knowledge of this method / experiment as they may get question on it.
Although we don’t yet know what the new PSOW form will look like, it would be reasonable to assume that your IA moderator will also check to see if you have carried out these skills – so your practical programme does need to include them.
These skills could be assessed on paper 3 in the exams – so when you are developing the lab work, also aim to develop some questions to challenge your students on the work they have carried out.
You may find the following websites useful starting points when it comes to developing resources:
1, The UK exam board AQA (google ‘AQA Chemistry A level EMPA’ and look for the paper 3 or paper 6 questions).
2, The CIE exam board (google ‘CIE IGCSE Chemistry practical chemistry exam papers’).
Good luck –I hope this hasn’t interrupted your long break but now is the chance to try and get ahead of things!
If you have any questions about these mandatory skills or, any resources / websites that you have found, we would all love to hear from you below.

  • sridevi
    August 27, 2014

    Even i find the same solution to develop resources.

    am new to iBdp. can you suggest me some basic chemicals to carry out this experiments. am making the list but ,still am worried if i miss out some things.

    Thank you,

    • David Allen
      September 10, 2014

      Hi Sridevi,

      Thanks for the question.

      My advice to you is to look at the list 10 prescribed labs (mandatory labs) – you can find these in previous blog posts.

      This should be a good starting point.

      All the best,


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