Taking the IB Chemistry exam will be a nerve-wracking experience, but having seen a real IB past paper before taking the actual test will be a huge advantage since you'll have experience with the test format, the length, and style of the test.
In this article, I'll show you where to find IB Chemistry past papers, both free and paid. I'll also share tips on how to study most effectively using these IB Chemistry past papers.
2021 IB Exam Changes Due to COVID-19
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, May 2021 IB assessments will have two routes, exam and non-exam, depending on which your school chooses. Stay up to date with the latest information on what this means for IB diplomas, course credit for IB classes, and more with our 2021 IB COVID-19 FAQ article.
Where to Find Free Tests and Past Papers
The IB has been diligent about seeking out and destroying illegally uploaded official papers for the past few years, so a lot of sources that used to be out there are no longer readily available. Currently, the only free official IB Chemistry test legally available is this Chemistry HL paper 3. This paper is licensed by the IBO, which means its
Having said that, there are some unofficial, free IB Chemistry past papers floating around online. One popular place to find IB Chemistry past papers, free and clear, in on the repository run by IB Documents Team. Here you'll find Chemistry SL and HL papers dating all the way back to 1999.
This might sound great, but there's one huge caveat: because these aren't official, the quality of these past papers varies a lot. And many of them are out of date (the IB Chemistry exam updated a few years ago to cover new concepts and ideas). I don't recommend using these free papers as your only study resource!
Where to Find Paid Tests and Past Papers
The IBO store sells IB Chemistry SL and HL past papers from May 2015 to November 2020. Navigate to the Diploma Program page, then click "Exam Papers and Markschemes" to see all available papers, which can be narrowed by category and time frame. This is the only safe place to get IB Chemistry past papers to download.
Each paper and each mark scheme costs $3.99. Buying all of the past papers and mark schemes can be costly, so if you are looking to spend as little as possible, I recommend just purchasing the most recent (November 2020 and November 2019) past papers as they will be closest to what you learned.
3 Tips for Using IB Chemistry Past Papers Productively
Since each practice IB Chemistry exam will take you 3 hours for SL or 4.5 hours for HL, it's imperative that you get the most out of each test. Here are a few helpful practices to keep in mind when you're taking these papers:
#1: Complete papers 1 and 2 in one sitting.
The IB Chemistry SL and IB Chemistry HL papers are intense, forcing you to sit and concentrate for two hours for SL and 3 hours and 15 minutes for HL. You need to build up your mental strength so you don't make careless errors by the end of paper 2.
By taking the practice tests in one session, you build up your mental strength in preparation for the real test. If you don't have time for a 2 hour or 3 hour 15 minute session, then you can take each paper on separate days. However, you need to obey the next rule:
#2: Stick to the exact timing on each part of the exam.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get used to the stressful timing of this test:
IB Chemistry SL:
- IB Chemistry SL Paper 1—45 minutes
- IB Chemistry SL Paper 2—1 hour 15 minutes
- IB Chemistry SL Paper 3—1 hour
- IB Chemistry HL Paper 1—1 hour
- IB Chemistry HL Paper 2—2 hours 15 minutes
- IB Chemistry HL Paper 3—1 hour 15 minutes
In this allotted time, you need to finish:
IB Chemistry SL:
- Paper 1: 30 multiple-choice questions
- Paper 2: two parts, Section A: answer all of four short responses and Section B: pick one essay question (you choose between three options)
- Paper 3: Answer all of the questions for your two options: six short response questions that each can have between 2-5 parts
IB Chemistry HL:
- Paper 1: 40 multiple-choice questions
- Paper 2: two parts, Section A: answer all of four short response questions that each can have between 3-10 parts and Section B: pick two essay questions (you choose between four options)
- Paper 3: Answer all of the questions for your two options: seven or more short response and essay questions (varies based on the options that you covered in your class)
Do not practice with extra time. If you give yourself extra time, you can complete more questions and increase your score. We want to use these practice tests as realistic predictors of your exam score.
#3: Check your answers.
After you complete a practice exam, you need to review every error you made. Do not skip this step. If you do, you will not learn from your errors, and you will make the same ones on the IB Chemistry test.
So make sure to spend at least 1.5 hours reviewing every full practice tests. This may seem like a lot of time, but emphasize quality of learning over quantity of learning. I'd rather see you take two tests with meticulous review than five tests with no review.
Need help reviewing some chemistry concepts? Read up on how to balance chemical equations here.
Learn more about IB Chemistry:
- The Complete IB Chemistry Syllabus: SL and HL
- The Best IB Chemistry Study Guide and Notes for SL/HL
- The Best IB Chemistry Books, Reviewed
Looking for ways to apply your chemistry knowledge to your everyday life? Get three different recipes for making your own slime and learn how to (safely) use muriatic acid to clean household items.
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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.