Discover Major changes in IBDP Chemistry Syllabus Update for 2023

International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum undergoes a periodic review every seven years, which results in changes to the syllabus for various subjects. As we approach the year 2023, the revised syllabus for IBDP Chemistry is set to be introduced. For students and teachers alike, a new syllabus can be daunting and may lead to a host of questions and concerns.

That’s why Blen has put together all the information you need to know about the new IBDP Chemistry syllabus for 2023, so that you can feel confident and well-prepared.

When will the new syllabus be first assessed?

The new IBDP Chemistry syllabus will be first taught in August or September of 2023, with the assessment taking place in May of 2025.

The revised course has been developed through a long process of consultation, formulation and collective creation in accordance with the IB's mission to provide a rigorous and challenging education to students.

What are the changes in the course content?

Overall, the new syllabus for IBDP Chemistry is not a complete overhaul of the existing content, but rather an addition to it. It represents a shift towards more modernized and practical content, as well as an emphasis on the development of practical and critical thinking skills. The syllabus is listed in two strands, "Structure" and "Reactivity," instead of the previous method of listing main topic areas.

You can explore the official subject guide for IBDP Chemistry FE2025 here.

What concepts that are no more there?

The following no longer need to be learned.

Topic 1: Stoichiometric relationships

  • Parts per million (ppm) as a unit of concentration

Topic 2: Atomic structure

  • The mass spectrometer to determine the relative atomic mass of an element from its isotopic composition (no longer at SL).

Topic 3: Periodicity

  • The terms lanthanoids and actinoids.

  • Construction of equations to explain the pH changes for reactions of Na2O, MgO, P4O10, and the oxides of nitrogen and sulfur with water. (Changed to "Deduce equations for the reactions with water of the oxides of group 1 and group 2 metals, carbon and sulfur.")

  • Group trends should include the treatment of the reactions of alkali metals with halogens.

Topic 4: Chemical bonding & structure

  • Resonance structures occur when there is more than one possible position for a double bond in amolecule (no longer at SL).

Topic 5:  Energetics/thermochemistry

  • ΔH = ΣΔH (products) – ΣΔH (reactants) (moved to HL)

Topic 6: Chemical kinetics

  • None

Topic 7: Equilibrium

  • Determination of the relationship between different equilibrium constants, Kc for the same reaction (at the same temperature) when represented by equations written in different ways.

  • Relationship between Kc values for reactions that are multiples of one another.

  • Reaction quotient, Q (no longer at SL level, moved to HL).

Topic 8: Acids & bases

  • The difference between the terms amphoteric and amphiprotic.

  • The terms ionization and dissociation can be used interchangeably.

  • "Distinction between strong and weak acids in terms of the rates of their reactions with metals, metal oxides, metal hydroxides, metal hydrogen carbonates and metal carbonates. Strong and weak acids and bases also differ

  • in their electrical conductivities for solutions of equal concentrations." (Although this is still in the 2023Guide as "The distinction between strong and weak acids or bases and concentrated and dilute reagents should be covered." it is no longer spelt out so clearly).

  • Balancing the equations that describe the combustion of nitrogen to its oxides and the subsequent formation of HNO2 and HNO3

  • Distinction between the pre-combustion and post-combustion methods of reducing sulfur oxides emissions.

  • Deduction of acid deposition equations for acid deposition with reactive metals and carbonates.

Topic 9: Redox processes

  • The activity series ranking metals according to the ease with which they undergo oxidation.

  • Deducing of the feasibility of a redox reaction from the activity series.

  • The Winkler Method to measure biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), used as a measure of the degree of pollution in a water sample.

Topic 10: Organic chemistry

  • Phenyl is still present in the 2023 Guide as a functional group but arene is removed from homologous series. Nitrile and carboxamide removed from examples of functional groups.

  • Alcohols undergo esterification (or condensation) reactions with acids.

  • Discussion of the structure of benzene using physical and chemical evidence (now only at HL).

  • Benzene does not readily undergo addition reactions but does undergo electrophilic substitution reactions (now only at HL).

Topic 11: Measurement & data processing

  • All of 11.3 Spectroscopic identification of organic compounds at SL. (Note that this also includes the Index of hydrogen deficiency, IHD.)

Topic 12: Atomic structure

  • None

Topic 13: The periodic table—the transition metals

  • Zn is not considered to be a transition element as it does not form ions with incomplete d-orbitals.

  • Transition elements show an oxidation state of +2 when the s-electrons are removed.

  • Knowledge of different types of magnetism including explanation of the magnetic properties in transition metals in terms of unpaired electrons.

  • Explanation of the effect of the identity of the metal ion, the oxidation number of the metal and the identity of the ligand on the colour of transition metal ion complexes.

  • Explanation of the effect of different ligands on the splitting of the d-orbitals in transition metal complexes and colour observed using the spectrochemical series.

  • A list of polydentate ligands is given in the data booklet in section 16.

Topic 14: Chemical bonding & structure

  • Explanation of the wavelength of light required to dissociate oxygen and ozone.

  • Description of the mechanism of the catalysis of ozone depletion when catalysed by CFCs and NOx.

Topic 15: Energetics/thermochemistry

  • Calculation of enthalpy changes from dissolution energy cycles.

  • Relate size and charge of ions to hydration enthalpies.

  • Complete construction of Born-Haber cycles.

  • Perform lab experiments which could include single replacement reactions in aqueous solutions.

  • Enthalpies of aqueous solutions (section 19) and enthalpies of hydration (section 20) are given in the data booklet.

Topic 16: Chemical kinetics

  • The order of a reaction can be fractional in nature.

  • Name of the frequency factor (or pre-exponential factor) changed to the Arrhenius factor.

Topic 17: Equilibrium

  • The position of equilibrium corresponds to a maximum value of entropy and a minimum in the value of the Gibbs free energy.

Topic 18: Acids & bases

  • Calculations of pH at temperatures other than 298 K.

Topic 19: Redox processes

  • The standard hydrogen electrode (SHE)

  • The standard electrode potential (E)

  • Determination of the relative amounts of products formed during electrolytic processes.

Topic 20: Organic chemistry

  • Difference between conformational and configurational isomers

  • E/Z isomerism

  • Distinction between optical isomers using a polarimeter.

  • Typical reducing agents are lithium aluminium hydride (used to reduce carboxylic acids) and sodium borohydride.

  • Explanation of why hydroxide is a better nucleophile than water.

  • Outline of the difference between protic and aprotic solvents.

  • SN2 reactions are best conducted using aprotic, polar solvents and SN1 reactions are best conducted using protic, polar solvents.

  • Conversion of nitrobenzene to phenylamine via a two-stage reaction.

  • All of 20.2 Synthetic routes (i.e. deduction of up to four step synthetic routes given starting reagents and the product(s) and retrosynthesis).

Topic 21: Measurement and analysis

  • Use of X-ray crystallography to identify the bond lengths and bond angles of crystalline compounds

  • Explanation of the use of tetramethylsilane (TMS) as the reference standard in H1


All the content on all four of the options except for some or all of the material on:

  • Atom economy (Options A & B)

  • Triangular bonding diagram (Option A)

  • Condensation polymerisation (Option A)

  • Buffer solution calculations (Options B & D)

  • Acid rain/deposition (Option C)

  • Greenhouse effect (Option C)

  • Biofuels, fuel cells and secondary voltaic cells (Option C)


What are some new concepts that are introduced here?


S1 Models of the particulate nature of matter

S1.1 - Introduction to the particulate nature of matter

  • Specifies that solvation, filtration, recrystallization, evaporation, distillation and paper chromatography should be covered.

S1.2 - The nuclear atom

  • Mass spectrometer is only required at HL, not SL

S2 Models of bonding & structure

S2.1 - The ionic model

  • Binary ionic compounds
  • Include lattice enthalpy as a measure of the strength of the ionic bond in different compounds, influenced by ionic radius and charge.

S2.2 - The covalent model

  • Coordination bond
  • Chromatography

S2.3 - The metallic model

  • Transition elements have delocalized d-electrons.
  • Melting point and electrical conductivity of transition elements.

S2.4 - From models to materials

  • Bonding triangle
  • Condensation polymerisation

S3 Classification of matter

S3.1 - The periodic table: Classification of elements

  • Trends in properties of elements

R1 What drives chemical reactions?

R1.1 - Measuring enthalpy changes?

  • Axes for energy profiles
  • How heat evolved in a reaction.

R1.3 - Energy from fuels

  • Renewable and non-renewable energy sources
  • Biofuels
  • Hydrogen and methanol fuels cells

R2 How much, how fast and how far?

R2.1 - How much? The amount of chemical change

  • Calculate the atom economy from the stoichiometry of a reaction and include discussion of the inverse relationship between atom economy and wastage in industrial processes.

R2.2 - How fast? The rate of chemical change

  • Biological catalysts are called enzymes.
  • Distinguish between intermediates and transition states
  • Interpret the terms “unimolecular”, “bimolecular” and “termolecular”.

R3 What are the mechanisms of chemical change?

R3.2 - Electron transfer reactions

  • Secondary (rechargeable) cells
  • Fuel cells, primary cells and secondary cells.

R3.3 - Electron sharing reactions 

  • The use of a single-barbed arrow (fish hook) to show the movement of a single electron.

R3.4 - Electron-pair sharing reactions 

  • Recognize nucleophiles and electrophile

What is changing in the assessment pattern?

There will only be two external exams given to all students. Here are the subject briefs, SL and HL.

Paper 1:

  • In Paper 1A, there are multiple-choice questions from the curriculum

  • In Paper 1B, there are questions about data analysis. These publications offer the chance to evaluate some of the experimental methods and methods.

Paper 2:

  • Paper 2 has both short-answer and extended-response questions that integrate knowledge, concepts, and skills into a relevant chemistry environment.

  • The choice subjects have also been removed, among other adjustments (materials, biochemistry, energy and medicinal chemistry). Some of the content from the four available options was included to the course at either a standard or higher level. Hence, no more Paper 3.

Internal Assessment

  • The "scientific investigation" (internal assessment) will change as well, giving students the chance to work together and help one another in small groups. If the independent or dependent variables are different and the data acquired is specific to each student, then students may share similar approaches when appropriate.

  • The number of words in each student's report will remain at a maximum of 3,000.

  • With 50% of the marks allotted for Conclusion and Evaluation, the revised criteria will place a stronger focus on higher-order thinking abilities.

And finally…

At Blen, we understand that a new syllabus can be intimidating, but we're here to help. We offer comprehensive content, concepts, questions and mock tests to help you prepare for your IBDP Chemistry exams. We wish you all the best for tackling the new IBDP Chemistry syllabus in 2023!

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