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The Best IB Chemistry Books, Reviewed

Posted by Dora Seigel | Apr 28, 2019 9:55:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)



To get an A in IB Chemistry SL/HL and a 7 on the exam, you need to be using the best study materials for your learning style. In this article, I will review some IB Chemistry SL/HL books to help you narrow your search. Note: I'm only including IB Chemistry Books from 2012 or newer because I don't recommend studying with older books as they most likely do not correspond to the most recent IB Chemistry syllabus.


Who Should Use This Article?

IB Chemistry student who are want to do well in the classroom and on the IB Chemistry SL/HL examIf you only want to use this book to cram for a few hours, the book you choose is less important. But, if you will read this resource during the school year for study help as well as while preparing for the IB Chemistry papers, you should pick the book carefully. Below, I’ve split the books into specific categories to help you make a more informed decision.


Top IB Chemistry SL/HL Books  

I’ve split the best IB Chemistry books into a few categories:

  • Best Textbook: important book to have to help you learn throughout the school year, no matter your strengths or weaknesses. 
  • Best Study Resource for Quick Learning During the School Year: The top study resource for all students to master topics quickly during the year and for the IB exam. 
  • Best Study Guide for Mid-Scoring Students: This text provides more in-depth explanations for those who need a little more help understanding the material. 
  • Best Value Study Guide: This book will give you the most bang for your limited buck.
  • Book to Avoid: This book lacks all of the material you need to succeed.


Best IB Chemistry Textbook

IB Chemistry Course Book: 2014 Edition: Oxford IB Diploma Program



Price on Amazon: about $58

Description: This is the go-to textbook for IB Chemistry SL/HL. The Oxford University Press is the only publisher coordinating directly with the IBO to create their books, which means they better comprehend what the IBO wants you to learn and what they will expect you to know for the IB exam. They're also able to create the most realistic practice IB Chemistry problems.


  • Developed directly with input from the IBO
  • High-quality explanations
  • Realistic practice questions 
  • Organized logically, with practice integrated throughout



  • This textbook is thorough in its coverage of the syllabus, but will not help you find the best study method for your learning style. It The best way for you to study for IB Chemistry may not be cover to cover, and this book does not give clear guidance on how best to customize its content for your needs
  • Does not contain study strategies or test strategies
  • More expensive than other guides


Best Study Guide for Mid-Scoring Students

IB Chemistry Study Guide: 2014 Edition: Oxford IB Diploma Program



Price on Amazon: about $34

Description: This is the go-to IB Chemistry Study Guide. Also published by The Oxford University Press, this study guide complements the IB Chemistry Course Book mentioned above. This book breaks topics down into comprehensible sections, with pictures to help cement learning. Also, IB Chemistry exam preparation material is integrated to make sure you excel on the IB Chemistry exam.


  • Developed directly with the IB
  • High-quality content
  • Realistic practice problems and exam material
  • Organized logically, with practice integrated coherently
  • Very thorough for those who need a little extra help in addition to their textbook / class lectures



  • This book is better for thoroughness and not very good for customized prep
  • More expensive than other guides



Best Study Resource for Fast Learning Throughout the School Year

IB Chemistry (SL and HL) Examination Flashcard Study System: IB Test Practice Questions & Review for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Cards)



Price on Amazon: about $44

Description: Flashcards are a good study option for IB Chemistry specifically since there are many specifics to memorize. These flashcards help break the subjects down into manageable sections so that you can easily memorize. Unlike the Oxford University Press, this company doesn't work with IBO, but they use the IB Chemistry syllabus to make sure they cover all subjects, making it a great resource.

These flashcards are a great resource to use for studying during the school year for your in-class IB Chemistry tests. You can focus just on the applicable flashcards for each quiz. Even though there are no IB exam practice questions, these flashcards are still good for exam review.

Since most of the IB Chemistry exam questions ask you to repeat memorized facts (such as asking you to decide “Which statement about reactivity is correct?”), these flashcards provide you with all you need to get a 7 on the exam.


  • Developed using the IB Chemistry syllabus
  • High-quality content review
  • Breaks down big topics into small manageable parts
  • Organized by topic, making it easy to help you memorize throughout the year, not just for the IB exam



  • Doesn't give advice on how to use the flashcards to study. I encourage you to use our 'waterfall method'
  • These flashcards just have space for brief explanations - if you don't understand a topic, you will need to refer back to another resource to help cement understanding.
  • More expensive than other guides 



Best Value Study Guide

IB Chemistry Notes by Vincent Keat Standard Level and Higher Level


Price on Amazon: About $19

Description: What I love about these books is that they are topic specific. These notes were written following the IB Chemistry SL and HL syllabus. They contain fully worked examples on each topic and are an ideal resource for test preparation throughout the school year as well as for the IB Chemistry exam.


  • Developed using the IB Chemistry syllabus
  • High-quality content review
  • Fully worked examples of each topic
  • Relatively inexpensive



  • Does not contain full practice tests
  • Does not contain study strategies or test strategies


Book to Avoid

IB Chemistry (SL and HL) Examination Secrets Study Guide: IB Test Review for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Mometrix Secrets Study Guides)



Price on Amazon: about $50

Description: This study guide for IB Chemistry covers the core topics of the syllabus including some practice questions for paper 1 (the multiple-choice section of the exam). However, it does not review any of the options (tested on paper 3 of the IB Chemistry exam), and it does not include any practice for paper 2 questions.


  • Focused review of IB Chemistry core topics
  • Includes practice questions from paper 1 with detailed answer explanations
  • Includes test tips and strategies



  • Expensive compared to other materials
  • Missing review of the options, which count for ⅓ of the IB Chemistry exam
  • Missing review of paper 2 questions, which count for ⅓ of the IB Chemistry exam
  • This book is too expensive to spend money on when it is missing ⅔ of the material needed to succeed on the IB Chemistry exam


Other Study Resources

Find other free IB Chemistry study resources in our IB Chemistry Study GuideAlso, check out our article on where to find IB Chemistry past papers to help you practice for the exam. 


What’s Next?

Learn more about IB Chemistry by checking out the complete IB chemistry syllabus. 

Trying to figure out what extracurricular you should do? Learn more about participating in Science Olympiad, starting a club, doing volunteer work, and joining Student Government

Studying for the SAT? Check out our complete guide to the SAT. Taking the SAT in the next month? Check out our guide to cramming

Not sure where you want to go to college? Check out our guide to finding your target school. Also, figure out your target SAT score or target ACT score.


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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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