AP Chemistry Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about the course

The course focuses on six big ideas, covering topics such as: atomic structure, intermolecular forces and bonding, chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium. The course also emphasizes inquiry-based learning and the development of science practices and skills. For more details go the two-page Course Overview (.pdf/1.3MB).

The AP course is equivalent to a general chemistry course that a student usually takes during their first year of college.

Yes. Students should have taken prior high school courses in chemistry and Algebra II.

The most helpful are:

  • basic algebra and geometry
  • how to measure, collect, analyze, and interpret experimental data
  • basic concepts of probability and statistical analysis
  • graphing, including setting axes and plotting data
  • how to determine the rates of chemical reactions
  • how to calculate solute concentrations

Go to Appendix B in the AP Chemistry Course and Exam Description (.pdf/4.96MB) for a chart of equations and formulas used in the course.

A minimum of 16 hands-on labs constituting a minimum of 25 percent of instructional time. At least six of the labs must be guided inquiry.

In this type of inquiry lab the students themselves design/select procedures to investigate a question presented by the teacher.

Yes. The format is up to you, but it’s best if they keep both electronic and hard copies.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However a list of textbooks appropriate for this course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course.

Any motivated student should be given the chance to benefit from an AP course. If your school gives the PSAT/NMSQT®, use AP Potential. This free online tool allows you to identify students who are likely to succeed in AP based on their PSAT/NMSQT or SAT® scores. Such scores have been proven to be stronger predictors of AP success than high school grades or GPA.

These resources will help:

The AP Teacher Community might be the best source for answers. You’ll also find articles, tools, and resources to help you teach every aspect of the course on the course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submit the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty.

The AP Course Audit page for this course will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines, sample syllabi, and a tutorial.

Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and info about the whole course audit process.

Questions about the exam

These resources will help:

  • A full practice exam is available by logging in to your AP Course Audit account.
  • Free-response questions (FRQs) with student samples and scoring guidelines can be accessed from the course’s exam information page.
  • Scroll down the Scoring column in the free-response questions table to find yearly Chief Reader Reports (former title: Student Performance Q&A) from the Chief Reader that describe how students performed on the FRQs, typical student errors, and specific concepts that challenged students the most that year.
  • Watch the 2017 Chief Reader Report Module, where Paul Bonvallet of the College of Wooster provides a brief walkthrough of the highlights of his 2017 Chief Reader Report.

The exam is given each year in early May. Go to the Exam Calendar for the most current exam dates.

That depends on the college. Tell your students to use the AP Credit Policy Info tool to verify the credit/placement policies at the colleges they are considering.

Go to the AP Chemistry Exam Information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.