National 5 Chemistry looks at the properties of matter at the atomic scale and also looks into the nature of molecules, ions, and compounds.  These substances are the building blocks of the materials that surround us in the universe.  Chemistry is a major subject when it comes to developing new materials and resources, it also informs how we can produce new materials from old, refine our fuels, develop food, medicines, and textiles. Exciting stuff!

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The National 5 courses follow three hierarchical units:  chemical changes and structure; nature’s chemistry; chemistry in society. For National 5 there is one exam paper and the externally assessed assignment.

Central Tutors are fully qualified tutors in Scotland that offer support in National 5 Chemistry with one-to-one tutoring that guarantees a higher level of personal and fun tutoring.

National 5 chemistry

We keep up to date with the latest course information direct from the National 5 exam boards. We look at all parts of National 5 Chemistry, including:

Chemical changes and structures

This unit includes the following:

Rates of reaction

The speed of a chemical reaction is affected by temperature, concentration, particle size, and the presence of a catalyst. It can be calculated by measuring changes in reactants/products.

Atomic structure

Atoms are made from protons, neutrons, and electrons. The periodic table arranges elements according to their atomic size and other properties.

Bonding and properties of materials

Only the noble gases exist as individual atoms not bonded to other atoms. In all other substances, atoms are held together by chemical bonds, either sharing or gaining/losing electrons.

Chemical formulae

The chemical formula for a substance shows how many atoms of each element are present in a molecule, or the proportion of atoms of each element. The formula can be worked out using the valency.

Balanced equations

Chemical equations must be balanced so that the quantities of reactants and products match. For an equation to be balanced there must be an equal numbers of atoms on each side.

The mole and concentration of solutions

The gram formula mass of a substance is known as the mass of one mole. The mass, number of moles, concentration or volume of a substance can be calculated easily if you learn two formula triangles.

Acids and bases

The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A pH less than 7 is acidic. Alkalis dissolve in water to give a pH greater than 7. A pH equal to 7 indicates a neutral solution.

Acids and bases national 5 chemistry

Nature’s National 5 chemistry

Homologous series

The alkanes, alkenes and cycloalkanes are examples of homologous series. A homologous series is a group of chemicals which have similar chemical properties and can be represented by a general formula.

Everyday consumer products

An alcohol is a carbon compound that contains the hydroxyl group. Alcohols are used as fuels and solvents. A carboxylic acid has a functional group called the carboxyl group. Carboxylic acids are used in the preparation of soaps, medicines and preservatives.

Energy from fuels

When fuels burn they release heat energy and light energy to the surroundings in exothermic reactions known as combustion reactions. The energy released can be calculated using the equation Eh=cm∆T.

Chemistry in society


We use metals in everyday life, for example in jewelry or cars. They have many uses due to their properties which include strength, malleability, conduction of electricity, and conduction of heat.

national 5 chemistry metals


Plastics are widely used as they have many useful properties. Most plastics and synthetic fibres are made from chemicals derived from crude oil and are made up of long chain molecules called polymers.


There are two types of fertilisers: natural which is made from plant and animal waste, and artificial which is man-made. By using fertilisers, farmers are able to grow more crops on a field.

Nuclear National 5 chemistry

Nuclear chemistry is the study of the breakup of unstable nuclei, which results in the emission of radiation and energy. There are three types of radiation; alpha (α), beta (β) and gamma (γ).

National 5 Chemical analysis

Chemists monitor our environment using a variety of quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques. The results from quantitative analysis are used in calculations that give essential information.

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