Chemguide: Support for CIE A level Chemistry


Learning outcomes 2.3(a) and 2.3(b)

These statements concern s, p and d orbitals. I am treating the two statements together because I don't actually think it make sense to split them into two parts. As long as you read and understand the pages I am pointing you to below, you will know and understand everything you need for these two statements.

Before you go on, you should find and read the statements in your copy of the syllabus.


You will find an introduction to orbitals and all you need to know about the shapes of s and p orbitals on the page about atomic orbitals.

Near the top of that page, you will find a link to another page about the difference between the words "orbit" and "orbital". Follow that link! It is really important that you understand the difference between these words, and then permanently forget any ideas that you ever had about electrons orbiting a nucleus!

The shapes of d orbitals will come up in a statement in the second half of a two year course, and won't be examined as AS level.


It is absolutely essential that you fully understand all this before you go any further with your chemistry. There are a lot of other topics which rely on this basic material. Take your time over it, and get it right.


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© Jim Clark 2012 (last modified March 2014)