This Examination comprises four papers covering the traditional areas of Inorganic, Organic and Physical chemistry, together with Mathematics for Chemistry. The first three of these are very broadly based, and include topics from Biological Chemistry and Physics, which are presented in a chemical context. Students sit the Preliminary Examination in all four subjects in June of the first year. The level of the Examinations is set so that with reasonable commitment the vast majority of students are capable of passing. Distinctions are awarded for excellent performance in the Examination. Failed papers can be re-taken in the following September, with the permission of the student’s College, but all must be passed at no more than two sittings. It is necessary to have passed all the examinations in Prelims, including fulfilling practical and IT requirements, before proceeding to the second year course.
The material in the first year course is fundamental core material. It is necessary to assimilate it all thoroughly, not just to pass Prelims but also because later parts of the course depend and build on it. Prelims material is generally assumed knowledge in later Examinations.