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A Level Chemistry Help Please

Discussion in 'Science' started by Alena, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. Alena

    Alena New commenter

    Hello All,

    I am new to this part of the forum, but a fairly regular poster in personal. I'm hoping for some advice from anyone who teaches the AQA A Level Chemistry Specification.

    I am looking to do a second degree (currently a primary school teacher) but need Chemistry A Level in order to get on to the degree course. My questions are these:

    How possible is it to do the course as a private candidate? AQA accept private candidates, but you have to be affiliated to a centre for the exams. I have a list of local centres to try and contact over the next few days.

    Would a candidate struggle to undertake the exams if they had not had regular access to the practical aspects of the exam?

    I took Chemistry A level in 1993, but didn't make it to the second exam (long story). I know the exam specification has changed since then and would look to get a private tutor to work alongside me at home (I can't afford to give up my full time teaching job, in case I don't get on to the second degree course).

    Any help or advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. My current Head is very flexible and would allow me to take time off to fit in exams and if necessary time off to undertake practical sessions, but at the moment I really need some expert opinions from people who know the course well.

    Many thanks,

    Alena
     
  2. Alena

    Alena New commenter

    Hello All,

    I am new to this part of the forum, but a fairly regular poster in personal. I'm hoping for some advice from anyone who teaches the AQA A Level Chemistry Specification.

    I am looking to do a second degree (currently a primary school teacher) but need Chemistry A Level in order to get on to the degree course. My questions are these:

    How possible is it to do the course as a private candidate? AQA accept private candidates, but you have to be affiliated to a centre for the exams. I have a list of local centres to try and contact over the next few days.

    Would a candidate struggle to undertake the exams if they had not had regular access to the practical aspects of the exam?

    I took Chemistry A level in 1993, but didn't make it to the second exam (long story). I know the exam specification has changed since then and would look to get a private tutor to work alongside me at home (I can't afford to give up my full time teaching job, in case I don't get on to the second degree course).

    Any help or advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. My current Head is very flexible and would allow me to take time off to fit in exams and if necessary time off to undertake practical sessions, but at the moment I really need some expert opinions from people who know the course well.

    Many thanks,

    Alena
     
  3. The only thing you would definitely need to sit practical wise is the ISA(s) which make up the majority of the coursework marks. The PSA (ongoing practical assessment) can actually be credited on the day of the ISA. That said you'd struggle to do the ISA if you'd never done the basic practicals like titrations, enthalpy measurements etc. You might have more luck if you have a community high school in your area that offers adult learning in some aspect (our school does things like ECDL, introduction to spanish etc) as that would get you a reasonable lead into the school. You may also want to see if an FE college nearby offers it as they are sometimes more flexible than schools. Be prepared for any centre to charge you for their input into your course eg, technician time. A private tutor is a good idea if you're not going to have any formal teaching eg, through night school.
     
  4. Contact AQA and they might be able to give you a list of nearby centres that you could approach. That would save you trawling round all the different schools. As Kritur said, you will need some kind of tuition to get you up to speed but you will be able to find lots of past questions / answers / examiner comments on the website.
    The kinds of practical skills haven't changed since 1993 but the way of examining them has. The ISA is a practical exercise (about one hour) followed by an exam-like session of an hour. The exam bit has some questions about the practical you did as well as some questions about wider chemistry. One ISA is dedicated to each of the theory modules. So, as an example, if the practical part of a CHEM 1 ISA was a titration, the exam part would have questions like finding the average titration, working out the concentration of substance X etc. After that, it could ask you anything about the whole of CHEM 1 that could be linked in.
    With any practical skill (such as titrations etc) there are a number of standard points that you need to be trained in so that you score the best marks.
    The alternative to the ISA is the external assessment (EMPA) which is more like the old practical examinations. This might be more suitable for an external candidate but I think the details can follow once you have found a willing centre to adopt you.
    Although we operate with AQA, you may wish to consider the other boards if the conveniently available centres are non-AQA.
    You may be lucky and find that the local centre also has a teacer who is looking for a bit of cash as a private tutor!
     
  5. Sorry...just re-read and seen that you already have a list!
     
  6. There aren't very many centres that take private candidates, and there are far, far fewer who will accept candidates for the A level practicals and they tend to be independent 6th forms or crammers who charge an arm and a leg. I don't know where you are but Pascals College in Kent takes people for Physics and Biology, it might be worth a try for Chemistry? Alternatively, you could try and find a school near by that does AQA A level Chemistry, play on the fact that you are a teacher and hope for the best - use any contacts that you have - cluster coordinators, whatever. It may be you can even find a tutor who is also a teacher at a school who would take you on - I know one of our Chemists also tutors.
     
  7. I have exactly the same problem with 2 students doing Biology AS (AQA + OCR) who have been asked for fees of £500 plus to enter for mock + practicals + exam as external candidates. Contact examining board who will give list os accredited examination centres. There are some useful videos on U tube that go through ecniques plus RSC has a site for interactive lab demonstrations. These can be useful with a tutor to run through hazchem info. Good luck keep trying
     

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