You have to learn a lot of organic reactions for AQA A-level Chemistry. Some of them you need to know the mechanism for, some of them you don’t.

In this post, I’ll give you a list of the reactions you need to know. For the ones marked with a * you need to know the mechanism.

To help you learn these reactions, I’ve put together a FREE package, which includes this list, a guide to my framework for learning the organic reactions, and a worksheet to help you organise your notes. Click here to sign up, or keep scrolling to see the list of reactions

The organic reactions for AQA A-level Chemistry

Year 1 reactions for AQA A-level Chemistry


  1. Catalytic cracking
  2. Thermal cracking
  3. Radical substitution*


  1. Nucleophilic substitution with hydroxide*
  2. Nucleophilic substitution with cyanide*
  3. Nucleophilic substitution with XS ammonia*
  4. Elimination*


  1. Electrophilic addition*
  2. Hydrogenation
  3. Hydrogenation
  4. Electrophilic addition with conc H2SO4*
  5. Addition polymerisation


  1. Oxidation of primary alcohols to both carboxylic acids and aldehydes
  2. Oxidation of primary alcohols to aldehydes
  3. Oxidation of secondary alcohols to ketones
  4. Elimination*
  5. Production of ethanol by glucose fermentation

Year 2 reactions for AQA A-level Chemistry

Aldehydes and ketones

  1. Reduction of aldehydes to primary alcohols (nucleophilic addition)*
  2. Reduction of ketones to secondary alcohols (nucleophilic addition)*
  3. Nucleophilic addition of aldehydes and ketones with cyanide*

Carboxylic acids 

  1. Usual reactions of acids (see lesson in A-level Chemistry basic skills course)
  2. Esterification
  3. Formation of triglycerides
  4. Formation of biodiesel


  1. Acid hydrolysis
  2. Base hydrolysis

Acyl chlorides

  1. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with water*
  2. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with alcohols*
  3. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with ammonia*
  4. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with primary amines*

Acid anhydrides 

  1. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with water
  2. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with alcohols
  3. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with ammonia
  4. Nucleophilic addition-elimination with primary amines


  1. Nitration of benzene (electrophilic substitution)*
  2. Friedel-Crafts acylation (electrophilic substitution)*


  1. Amines as bases
  2. Amines as nucleophiles (nucleophilic substitution with halogenoalkanes)
  3. Reduction of nitriles to primary amines
  4. Reduction of nitrobenzene to phenylamines

More help with the organic reactions for AQA A-level Chemistry

Learning the organic reactions is much easier when you have a solid understanding of organic chemistry. My FREE introduction to organic chemistry workbook will help you learn the basics, including nomenclature, formulae and isomerism. Get your copy here.