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This page focuses on IGCSE/GCSE chemistry.

Other relevant pages:

Chemistry Practicals

Science A levels (includes information on practical endorsements for A level)

Science (For an overview of the options)

Alternative Qualifications (see Science and Engineering section)

Chemistry Qualifications from Home Education

Home-ed students usually take International GCSE (IGCSE) Chemistry exams, which consist of written exams only. Unlike GCSEs, IGCSEs do not require core practical work to be carried out in the exam centre.  

Edexcel IGCSE and Cambridge(CAIE) IGCSE Chemistry are exam-only syllabuses and available to private candidates.

Can I do GCSE Chemistry?

For most home educators GCSE chemistry is not an option and they must do IGCSE. GCSE chemistry does not have a practical exam or controlled assessments, BUT the head of the exam centre has to sign a form for each candidate saying that the candidate has been offered the opportunity to carry out all core practicals at the centre. Most centres won't do this for external candidates. Many home-educated children still do chemistry practicals, either in groups or at home, to prepare for IGCSE chemistry, but they do not have to do practicals in the exam centre.

Practicals exam questions in IGCSE Chemistry

Although there is no practical exam in IGCSE Chemistry, an understanding of practical work is necessary. Many home educators undertake chemistry practicals on the syllabus, whether at home, in tutor groups or at workshops. Please see Chemistry Practicals for more on doing experiments from home education. The IGCSE specifications include 'alternative to practicals' questions, rather than requiring a practical exam.

Chemistry options for IGCSE

Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry (4CH1)

This is a popular choice among home educators, as it is often easier to find an exam centre in the UK for Edexcel exams. The specification was changed in 2017 for exams from summer 2019.

The specification, past papers and other resources can be found here Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry The most recent papers are not usually available to the public until months after the exam, but you can ask on the HE exams group to see if anyone has access to them.

Exams are usually available in Summer and January sittings.

Syllabus overview: This specification has two exams and is a single tier entry, so all candidates take the same papers and have access to all grades from 9-1. The difficult and easier questions are scattered between the two papers. Unlike Cambridge IGCSE chemistry (which has an alternative to practicals paper), the practical questions in Edexcel IGCSE chemistry are spread over both papers.

[Note: for those downloading past papers for exam practice, the Edexcel Certificate, KCH0, was the state schools' version of the IGCSE. It was available until Summer 2017 and is identical to 4CH0, the 2011 IGCSE syllabus for exams from 2013-2017. You can use questions from the past papers of the 2011 syllabus for practice, but be mindful of any minor changes in the syllabus that happened when updated in 2017.]

Student Textbooks for Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry

(Pearson)Edexcel IGCSE chemistry student book by Jim Clark (2017). Some people find the layout a little cluttered in this recent Pearson's edition, so check out the 'look inside' feature on Amazon of this and other textbooks to compare. Answers used to be available online, but if you can't track them down for this edition ask on the HE exams and alternatives group.

(Hodder) Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry Student Book Second Edition (2017)

(Collins) Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry Student Book (2017) by Sunley. Answers might not be provided for the exam-style questions. Collins are usually helpful when home educators email them for a copy of the answers, but perhaps check on the HE Exams and Alternatives group, first to see if anyone has the answers.

Practical workbook

Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Chemistry Student Lab Book: Exam practice and further application (2019) Not essential, but some families have found it helpful

Workbooks and Revision books for Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry

Revision books and workbooks aren't essential, but some students find them helpful. There are lots of options below and you don't need to buy all of them!


(Hodder) Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry Workbook (2017) by Wensley

My Revision Notes: Edexcel International GCSE (9–1) Chemistry (2018) by Dixon


Some people find CGP revision books cluttered, and other people love them. Take a look on the 'look inside' feature of Amazon to see whether they will suit your child.

Grade 9-1 Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: Revision Guide with Online Edition (2017) designed for revision, but can also give a useful overview of each topic as it is being studied.

Grade 9-1 Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: Exam Practice Workbook (includes Answers) (2017) A workbook to accompany the above revision book. Can be useful for testing knowledge before progressing to whole exam papers.

Grade 9-1 Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: Complete Revision & Practice with Online Edition (2107) This book combines the CGP revision guide with some questions (fewer questions than if buying the exam practice workbook). There might be some overlap with the above books.

Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: Grade 8-9 Targeted Exam Practice Workbook (with answers) (2017) questions for students aiming for the top grades.

New Grade 9-1 Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: Revision Question Cards (2019) Note these are NOT flash cards of topic summaries, but are question cards. Not essential, but might be useful for some students.

Grade 9-1 Edexcel International GCSE Chemistry: 10-Minute Tests (with answers) (2018) Again, not essential, but a possible tool for some students.

Cambridge (CAIE) IGCSE Chemistry (0620 and 0971)

The current specification exam code for A*-G grading is 0620. The equivalent specification for 9-1 grading is 0971. The syllabuses are exactly the same, with the same exam content, just with different grading options (numerical or letter). Some exam centres will only enter students for 0971.

You can find the specifications, past papers and teaching and learning resources on the exam syllabus pages linked above.

Syllabus overview: The specification has three papers: a 1h Alternative to Practical, a 45 min Multiple Choice and a 1 hr 15 Theory paper. The multiple choice and theory exams used to be taken back to back (so effectively 2 hours), but for the past two years have been examined on separate days. CAIE science IGCSEs are tiered. This means that less able students can opt for the core tier, (papers 1, 3 and 6) but can only get a maximum grade of C or 5. More able students can opt for the higher (extended) tier (papers 2, 4 and 6) with the full grade range of 9-1

Resources for Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry [last updated Aug 2020]

Some books include answers, others don't. Some publishers will provide links to answers if you contact them. If you are not sure what textbooks or revision books to buy, or where to find answers, please ask on the HE exams and alternatives group ]

Student Textbooks for Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry

(Oxford University Press) Complete Chemistry for Cambridge IGCSE (2016) By Gallagher and Ingram

(Cambridge University Press) Cambridge IGCSE® Chemistry Coursebook with CD-ROM (2014) By Harwood and Lodge

(Collins) Cambridge IGCSE™ Chemistry Student's Book (2014) By Sunley

(Hodder)Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry 3rd Edition (Book & CD) (2014) by Earl and Wiford

Revision books and workbooks for Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry

Cambridge IGCSE® Chemistry Revision Guide (2015) by Norris.

Other resources for Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry 

Seneca Learning is a free resource site with courses

Chemistry Practicals and Experiments

Please see our new page on Chemistry Practicals . Many of the practicals recommended in the syllabus can be carried out at home; it is surprising how much can be done with relatively little kit, but you may also find that equipment is often affordable.  For those experiments which you are not able to carry out at home, there are many videos on YouTube.  There are also chemistry camps and workshops where you can get access to specialist equipment.

Courses and General Resources

See our page of course providers for a list of providers of live, self-led online and correspondence courses that home educators have used.

Seneca Learning - A free online learning platform

IGCSE Science Courses - by Graham Bray. Videos cover each of the 3 sciences and CIE and Edexcel Boards. Discounted subscription often available to home educators (ask on the HE exams and alternatives group.)

Pinterest board on IGCSE Chemistry compiled by one of our members.  

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