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Report on the Examination

June 2013

Version: 1.0

Further copies of this Report are available from aqa.org.uk

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The examination challenged less capable students, but the more able and better prepared were
able to score very well. A flexible mark scheme enabled students to gain credit for a wide range of
chemical knowledge and understanding. Many students wrote neatly and expressed themselves
clearly. A few students did not appear to have the use of a calculator.
The following questions were well answered by the majority of students: 1(a)(i), 2(a)(i), 2(b)(ii), 3,
5(a)(i), 6(a), 6(b), 6(c), 6(e)(i), 7(a)(i) and 7(b)(ii).
Question 3, requiring an extended answer on titration was generally well answered, sometimes in
considerable detail. Question 4 on hard water presented some difficulties, particularly those
sections requiring an understanding of the chemical processes involved in scale formation and ion
exchange. Question 5 on the chemical analysis divided students: some had clearly learned the
required tests and had no difficulty in answering the whole question clearly and concisely; others
left sections, and sometimes the entire question, unattempted. In general, students were more
familiar with flame tests than the rest of the topic.
Questions 1, 2 and 3 were standard demand questions and were common with Questions 7, 8 and
9 respectively on the Chemistry Unit 3 Foundation Tier Paper (CH3FP).
This Report should be read in conjunction with the published Mark Scheme.
Question 1 (Standard Demand)

(a) (i) About three quarters of students answered correctly. The commonest wrong answers
were carbon dioxide and lithium hydroxide.

(a) (ii) Disappointingly, just under half of students succeeded in identifying the hydroxide ion.
Many suggested hydrogen, particularly those that had not given hydrogen as their
answer to (a)(i). Others suggested the lithium ion and other variants.

(b) J ust over half of students were awarded both marks, but most scored at least one. A
lack of comparison caused many to lose marks. Another common fault was the simple
statement that potassium is more reactive than lithium without any indication of what
observations this would lead to. Many lost a mark through repetition, for example by
stating that potassium reacts more quickly and more vigorously, which are too similar to
gain two marks. Some of those who knew that potassium would produce a purple flame
unfortunately ascribed a flame to lithium as well. Comparisons of the strength of alkaline
solution produced were also seen. A few students answered assuming that lithium was
more reactive.

Question 2 (Standard Demand)

(a) (i) The structure was completed correctly by the majority of students. The drawing of
methanol and the inclusion of a double bond were the most common wrong answers.

(a) (ii) About a third of students gained two marks, with approximately another third gaining
one. Some confused the reaction with fermentation, giving that as the reaction and
suggesting microbes, yeast etc. as the missing reactant. Exothermic and endothermic

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were also frequent answers for the type of reaction. Air was sometimes given as the
reactant but this is not specific enough at this level.

(b) (i) Responses varied widely, but more than half of students succeeded in correctly
identifying the functional group.

(b) (ii) The majority of students were able to state that the compound was an ester.
Interestingly, students found the naming of the homologous series significantly easier
than the identification of the associated functional group in (b)(i).

(b) (iii) The naming of propanol proved simple to most students and, allowing for some variation
in spelling, this question was well answered.

Question 3 (Standard Demand)

It should be noted that this question was marked holistically; marks were not awarded or
deducted for inclusion or omission of particular points unless the method was thereby
rendered unworkable and, again provided the method as a whole was workable, students
were not penalised for minor errors such as an incorrect indicator colours (which were
frequent). Almost three quarters of students answered well, some in considerable detail,
and were judged to have attained Level 3 (5 or 6 marks). The most common reason for
failing to reach this level was to omit any indication that a final burette reading needed to be
taken. It would benefit students to read back through their answers for misspellings and
inconsistencies such as filling the burette with alkali and then using it to add acid to the
flask. Many students used the pipette indiscriminately, filling the burette with it or using it to
add indicator; this was not penalised as long as the overall method worked. The white tile
caused some confusion, often being seen as a method of preventing spillages from
reaching the bench. Some students used the white tile to test drops of the solution with the
indicator, probably confusing the titration with a method for the production of a soluble salt.
Some wrote at length on the minutiae of how to use a pipette.

Question 4 (Standard and High Demand)

(a) (i) Almost all students knew how to calculate a mean and scored a mark but,
disappointingly, only about a third realised that there was an anomalous result and took
this into account for both marks.

(a) (ii) The great majority of students were able to deduce the correct conclusion but a
significant number failed to obtain full marks. Some compared the hardness correctly
but neglected to provide the evidence; others pointed out the evidence without drawing a
conclusion. Others made a correct statement about the hardness of one source of water
but failed to draw a comparison with the others. Some merely gave the relationship
(harder water takes more drops) without applying it to the question to compare the water
sources. There were frequent attempts to categorise hardness as permanent or
temporary and some mentioned mineral content rather than hardness. Still others gave
the correct comparison for hardness but explained it in terms of the history of the water
samples instead of using the evidence from the experiment in the question as required.


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(a) (iii) Most students scored at least one mark for the identification of the white solid as calcium
carbonate or scale, although a few confused it with scum. A large number thought that
scale is produced simply as a residue after evaporation of water. J ust one quarter of
students were able to gain the full three marks.

(b) (i) Students generally displayed a good understanding of ion exchange and over half
gained all three marks. Some lost marks because of a failure to identify the relevant
species; others displayed confusion with filtration systems involving carbon or silver.
Most marks, however, were lost from a belief that it was the greater reactivity of sodium
that led to its exchange with calcium or magnesium. Hydrogen ions were frequently
mentioned and were ignored.

(b) (ii) This question caused much confusion with only about half of students gaining the mark.
Some appeared to believe that the sodium chloride solution was passed through the
column in order to remove either sodium or chloride ions from the solution. Others
confused chloride with chlorine and referred in some way to sterilisation of the column.
Some thought the purpose was simply to clean the column.

(c) Most students gained at least one mark, usually for the killing of micro-organisms by
chlorine, although some referred mistakenly to removal (implying some kind of filtration)
or repeated the information in the question by referring without elaboration to
sterilisation. There was some confusion with fluoridation. The argument against proved
more difficult; many referred to possible products of reaction of chlorine with impurities
rather than to chlorine itself. The ethical argument was relatively rare.

Question 5 (Standard and High Demand)

(a) (i) This question proved easy for the majority of students with over two thirds gaining all
three marks. Descriptions of flame tests were varied and often highly detailed; some
students even anticipated question 5(ia)(ii). Predictably, a frequent cause of lower marks
was the citing of incorrect flame colours. A significant number of students struggled to
give the correct answer, with various precipitation tests being popular. Some answers
related to the metals rather than their ions with suggestions of reactivity with water being
given as a distinguishing feature. Others attempted to use electrolysis products for

(a) (ii) More than half of students had no difficulty with the question, but many focussed
incorrectly on the similarity of the metals in terms of reaction or position in the periodic
table. Some stated that the flame colours were too similar.

(b) Only about a third of students gained all three marks, with a slightly higher number
gaining no marks at all. Around a tenth did not even attempt the question. Of those who
were between the two extremes the most common faults were a failure to mention
acidification and the selection of an incorrect acid (usually hydrochloric). There was a
tendency for the final mark to be lost because of reference to a white solution being
formed instead of a white precipitate.

(c) (i) About half of students gained at least one mark, and most of these gained two. Some
thought the precipitate would simply re-dissolve in time without further addition of sodium
hydroxide; others added excess sodium hydroxide but were often unclear in their
description of the result, for example by stating that the precipitate goes colourless
rather than dissolving. Many tried to use further precipitation or flame tests.

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(c) (ii) This question was better answered although there was confusion with the limestone
topic, resulting in answers relating to the production of carbon dioxide, scale or scum.
There was a small but significant tendency to confuse the red flame of calcium with the
crimson flame of lithium.

Question 6 (Standard and High Demand)

(a) About two thirds of students knew that nitrogen is obtained from air. Popular incorrect
answers included methane, the soil and ammonia.

(b) Most students gained both marks but a significant number, although mentioning
recycling, failed to identify nitrogen and hydrogen as the substances being recycled. A
number of students produced imaginative but incorrect answers ranging from systems
for regenerating catalysts to methods of equalising pressure.

(c) This question presented no problem for most students, who were able to balance the
equation successfully either from memory or by calculation.

(d) Many students gave good descriptions of the effect of temperature on equilibrium yield
and rate for two marks although many also lost a mark by only considering one of the
two. Some referred to the increased cost of higher temperatures; others addressed the
effect of pressure. Many simply stated that it gave a good yield at a good rate without
explaining why.

(e) (i) Approximately two thirds of students gained the mark. Some who chose to answer in
terms of the energy difference between bond breaking and formation made the common
mistake of describing both processes as requiring energy. Some explained what
exothermic meant without relating it to the evidence in the diagram.

(e) (ii) A little under half of students scored the mark. Many clearly did not know how to
represent the effect of a catalyst on the diagram. Changes in the energies of the
reactants and, particularly, products were very common, and a significant number of
students tried to show that the reaction is speeded up by squeezing the diagram along
the x-axis.

Question 7 (Standard and High Demand)

(a) (i) The great majority of students found this calculation straightforward and were awarded
full marks. Some succeeded in writing out a correctly substituted equation but calculated
the answer incorrectly, suggesting that the calculation was not checked.

(a) (ii) This calculation proved much more difficult with only about a fifth gaining both marks.
Some lost a mark by failing to convert to kJ . Many inverted the ratio or simply multiplied

(a) (iii) Most students scored one mark; relatively few gained both. The majority of those who
suggested repetition did not continue to mention the taking of a mean and this mark was
consequently awarded relatively infrequently. Answers relating to precision were
common, sometimes involving digital measurement. Many made two suggestions
relating the reduction of heat loss without realising that these were essentially
addressing the same problem.


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(a) (iv) Students found it difficult to express themselves with sufficient clarity in this question.
Many understood the general idea but effectively repeated information in the question
without adding to it. Answers stating that the results were comparable were common,
sometimes accompanied by the low-level idea of a fair test. Relatively few focussed on
the idea of similar errors.

(b) (i) The question was generally well answered with just over half of students being awarded
all three marks. Most had some idea of how to go about the calculation but there was the
common confusion of incorrectly counting the number of each type of bond. The great
majority of students at least managed to add together their two sub-totals for one mark,
although subtraction did occur. A few made the mistake of converting to kJ a second

(b) (ii) In contrast, most students realised that the numbers needed to be subtracted and were
able to do so correctly.

Mark Ranges and Award of Grades

Grade boundaries and cumulative percentage grades are available on the Results Statistics
page of the AQA Website.

Converting Marks into UMS marks

Convert raw marks into Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) marks by using the link below.

UMS conversion calculator www.aqa.org.uk/umsconversion