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Homework Help: Textbook Recommendations for IChO

  1. Mar 19, 2013 #1
    Again, I'm not quite sure where this goes. Since it's vaguely school/college related, I thought I'd ask in this forum, but please move it if appropriate.

    I was wondering if anyone could recommend some textbooks for the International Chemistry Olympiad? I'm looking specifically for physical, inorganic or analytical textbooks. The syllabus is the same as that for a general undergraduate degree in pure chemistry (that may help with recommendations theory-wise), with an emphasis on physical chemistry but still undergraduate-level inorganic.

    That's on the theoretical side. One major issue, though, is that I can barely find any sources of challenging topic-by-topic questions at the level of the Olympiad.

    Here is an example of the sort of questions they have:


    A British artist Roger Hiorns entirely filled a flat with a supersaturated copper sulfate solution. After removal of the solution, blue crystals remained on the walls, floor, and ceiling.

    1. Write down the formula of these crystals.

    2. Humidity inside this flat has a constant low level. Using the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, calculate the temperature at which the humidity will be 35% (of the saturated vapor pressure of water at the same temperature).

    Copper sulfate is often used in laboratories as a drying agent, for example, to obtain absolute ethanol.

    3. By rectification of aqueous ethanol one can increase its concentration to not more than
    95.5 wt.%. This is due to the fact that:

    a) pressures of water and ethanol vapor are the same
    b) mole fractions of ethanol in the gas and liquid phases are equal
    c) water forms a stable complex with ethanol
    d) ethanol absorbs water vapor from the air

    Choose the correct answer.

    For further dehydration of ethanol, anhydrous copper sulfate is added. After a while the liquid is decanted and treated with a new portion of anhydrous copper sulfate. These operations are repeated 2-3 times until copper sulfate will stop turning blue. Then ethanol is filtered and distilled.

    4. What is the minimum residual water content (in mass percent) that can be achieved by
    using this method at room temperature?

    Two chemists argued at what temperature – high or low – should the process of drying be
    performed in order to achieve lower residual water content.

    5. Calculate the minimum residual water contents if ethanol was dried at 0 °C and 40 °C.

    Given Information:

    Vapor pressure of water over its dilute solution in ethanol is given by p=psat*γ*x, where psat is the saturated vapor pressure of water, x is the mole fraction of water in solution, γ is the activity coefficient of water, which only slightly depends on temperature and can be assumed to be 2.45.

    Also given are the enthalpy changes of formation of CuSO4.5H2O, CuSO4.3H2O, CuSO4.H2O, CuSO4, H2O (l) and H2O (g), and psat at 298 K of CuSO4.5H2O, CuSO4.3H2O, CuSO4.H2O and H2O (l).


    Anyway, any recommendations would be really appreciated. If you could also tell me whether the textbook or resource you mention would be good for learning the theory for these (assume we need to have the knowledge of advanced, "graduating" undergraduates in physical chemistry and analytical chemistry, and the knowledge of "middle"-stage undergrads in inorganic chemistry) or for practising questions like these, I would be very grateful.

    Thank you :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    You will not get better answer than "any general chemistry undergraduate level books" no matter how many times and in how many forums subforums you will ask this question. Also nobody is going to tell you which book is the best one, as this is an individual thing.

    IChO syllabus is not much different from any reasonable undergraduate general chemistry course syllabus, plus some specific subjects (I believe in the past they were mentioned before the competition, and they were different each year). If you hope for a miracle and some fancy book which will be better than others - you are wasting your time. Start working through the books you already have.
  4. Mar 20, 2013 #3
    Then I suppose what I am looking for is an good example of a "general chemistry undergraduate level book"! I've had a suggestion or two but they are fairly antiquated (e.g. "General Chemistry" by Linus Pauling) and I don't know whether this would constitute the equivalent of a modern undergraduate general chemistry textbook.

    I don't have any books yet! I am still looking for a good example of one. Not a miracle, just a standard undergraduate general chemistry textbook with perhaps slightly challenging questions. Nothing out of the ordinary - I just don't have any names!
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