If you plan to take the AP Chemistry exam at some point in the future, you may be full of questions and nervousness!

Queries regarding the syllabus, practice resources, and the skills you have to hone before giving the test will engulf your every thought. And let's not forget about the elusive AP chemistry grading scale!

To address all your concerns, we will discuss the many components, lab works, requirements, and content coverage of the AP chemistry curriculum.

Moreover, we will also look at the exam format and some helpful AP chemistry resources for you to consider using.

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Changes In The AP Chemistry Test Because Of The Pandemic

Because of the ongoing pandemic, all 2021 AP tests are now being held across three separate sessions within May and June. These sessions are in three different forms:

  • On a digital device at home
  • On a digital device at school
  • Pen and paper test at school

Whether your tests are on paper or online, your testing dates will be determined by the school you are in.

Check out the FAQ for AP COVID 19 exams 2021 for more information on how the exams are carried out, date changes, online AP exam reviews, and what these changes entail.

AP Chemistry Syllabus

A girl conducting a lab experiment with the periodic table background
The AP Chemistry curriculum tests theoretical subjects and includes scientific practicals to examine lab skills. These scientific experiments are conducted to assess the reaction physically, providing context on the relationship between different chemicals (Source: Pixabay)

AP chemistry covers a wide range of topics, with the syllabus being divided into nine separate units, each encompassing long lists of relevant issues.

There are also several scientific practices students are expected to master within the course. This new model is inquiry-based and is used to encourage independent thinking in AP science courses.

Here are the nine basic units within the AP Chemistry curriculum that are covered but are in no particular order:

1. Atomic Structure And Properties

This unit has several topics, including:

  • Composition of mixtures
  • Mass spectroscopy of elements
  • Photoelectron spectroscopy
  • Valence electrons of ionic compounds
  • Periodic trends
  • Moles and molar mass
  • Elemental composition of pure substances
  • Composition of mixtures

2. Molecular And Ionic Compound Structure And Properties

The main topics within this unit are:

  • Resonance and formal charge
  • Types of chemical bongs
  • Structure of ionic solids
  • Lewis diagrams
  • Intramolecular force and potential energy
  • VSEPR and bond hybridization
  • Resonance and formal charge
  • Types of chemical bonds

3. Intermolecular Forces And Properties

This unit has several topics, including:

  • Photoelectric effect
  • Intermolecular forces
  • Kinetic molecular theory
  • Solutions and mixtures
  • Solids, liquids, and gases

4. Chemical Reactions

The topics included within this unit are:

  • Net ionic equations
  • Introduction for reactions
  • Physical and chemical changes
  • Representations of reactions
  • Types of chemic reactions
  • Stoichiometry

5. Kinetics

There are several topics within this unit, namely:

  • Elementary reactions
  • Introduction to rate law
  • Introduction to reaction mechanisms
  • Collision model
  • Catalysis
  • Multistep reaction energy profile

6. Thermodynamics

There are many topics in this unit, such as:

  • Heat transfer and thermal equilibrium
  • Energy of phase changes
  • Endothermic and exothermic processes
  • Hess's law
  • Heat capacity and calorimetry
  • Enthalpy of formation
  • Introduction to enthalpy of reaction
  • Energy of phase changes

7. Equilibrium

The topics that are included in this unit are:

  • Introduction to equilibrium
  • Calculating equilibrium concentrations
  • Calculating the equilibrium constant
  • Introduction to Le Chatelier's principle
  • Free energy of dissolution
  • pH and solubility
  • Introduction to solubility equilibria

8. Acids And Bases

Topics included within unit 8 are:

  • Introduction to acids and bases
  • Acid-base buffers and reactions
  • Molecular structure of bases and acids
  • pH and pOH of strong bases and acids
  • Properties of buffers
  • pH and pK

9. Applications Of Thermodynamics

Topics that may be included in the AP chemistry exam are:

  • Introduction to entropy
  • Kinetic and thermodynamic control free energy
  • Thermodynamic favorability and Gibbs free energy and equilibrium
  • Electrolysis and Faraday's law
  • Electrolyte and voltaic (galvanic) cells

The Scientific Practices That Make Up The AP Chemistry Curriculum

An atom signified next to a blackboard filled with chemistry-related concepts and lab equipment in the foreground
Chemistry is a mix of theoretical and practical concepts, and a bit of the AP Chemistry learning objectives includes scientific experiments. However, before conducting any experiments, students should go through lab safety resources that their school will most likely provide (Source: Pixabay)

Students must be well-versed in six 'scientific practices' representing the skills portion of the AP Chemistry course.

Most of the practices are related to correctly implementing scientific methods in a controlled lab. These labs are categorized as part of 'Guided Inquiry,' which refers to students working independently to conduct and plan experiments.

The six practices that AP chemistry students need to work on are:

  1. Being able to determine scientific techniques and questions
  2. Being able to describe representations and models, which includes scales
  3. Being able to develop arguments and explanations derived from empirical data
  4. Being able to interpret and analyze representations and models across single and multiple scales
  5. Being able to create models or representations related to chemical phenomena
  6. Being able to solve problems by utilizing mathematical knowledge
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AP Chemistry Course Description

The curricular requirements of the AP Chemistry course shed light on the approach expected to be taken during the course.

These explain how the course has been structured, how much time should be spent on labs, the materials teachers should be using in class, and what opportunities students should be receiving.

Let's look at the curricular requirements in more detail:

  • The nine units described earlier must all be covered during the course
  • 25% of class time should be dedicated to lab work, including 16 practical experiments at the very least
  • The textbook used during the course should be for the college level and published within the last ten years
  • Students should be given opportunities to connect the concepts they have learned about chemistry to major technological or societal components. This process will help them become scientifically literate citizens
  • The course should allow students to record, maintain, and develop evidence through written, graphic and verbal communications.
  • They must learn to execute summaries of literature, lab reports, and written, visual and oral presentations
  • Students should be given several opportunities to meet AP Chemistry learning objectives outside lab investigations within the big ideas portion of the AP Chemistry curriculum
  • Students should be allowed to apply the six science practices during lab investigations, which should be conducted using the guided inquiry format. This will put them at the heart of the learning process and encourage them to develop, pose and investigate questions through experimentation (supplied or self-generated). Traditional labs follow a more teacher-centered approach. The teacher will provide the questions needed to research and the data collection strategies and set procedures for students.

AP Chemistry Grading Scale and Exam Format

This year the AP exams will be covering all units, whether you take the test online or on paper. The format for the AP Chemistry exam will follow this pattern:

Section 1

The first section will be based on multiple-choice questions, accounting for 50% of your score. It will last an hour and 30 minutes and will feature sixty questions. Keep in mind that no calculators will be allowed.

Section 2

This section will be based on free responses and will account for the other 50% of your score. It will be an hour and forty-five minutes long and will feature seven questions.

These questions will be further divided into four free-response questions that are short and worth four points each.

The other three free-response questions will be long and worth ten points each. It is recommended to use a graphing or scientific calculator during this section.

In the end, all candidates will be allotted a number grade as their total score, which will be between 1-5, 5 being the highest, and 3 and 4 are also considered passing scores.

AP Chemistry Resources

A man holding a book in their hand with a beaker of green liquid depicted next to him
If you feel like you need a bit more assistance when studying for your AP Chemistry exam, you can easily take help from online AP Chemistry resources that give you all the details, reviews, practice exams, past exams, and answers for you to learn from (Source: Pixabay

Now that you know what you have to cover, you should seek helpful resources to be as prepared as you can be. Here are some online sites to consider using:

AP Central

The main College Board for AP Central provides students with AP chemistry practice exams with answers from previous years. These will help you get a good idea of the format and how the actual exam will go.

This site also has plenty of helpful AP Chemistry exam tips to enable you to get the best possible score.

Science Geek

This website has several AP chemistry practice tests for students to better understand how to attempt the exam.

They also have AP chemistry review questions as well as practical activities. Furthermore, you can practices quizzes according to each unit within the course.

Varsity Tutors

This site allows students to attempt six different diagnostic tests of varying difficulties containing roughly 50 to 60 questions.

These tests are timed to help you pace yourself accordingly. However, there are only multiple-choice questions so, try out other resources if you want to practice free-response questions.

Albert Quizzes

This website lets you attempt quizzes based on all concepts within the units of the AP Chemistry course. Your progress will be tracked, and you can also check out their AP Chemistry review guide for extra help.

Learning Interesting Scientific Concepts With An Expert

At the end of the day, the AP Chemistry curriculum is fun, and you learn a lot. You can perform exciting lab experiments and learn about concepts that you would not know otherwise.

Therefore, you should see the AP exam as a way of increasing your knowledge and understanding of the world around you.

And if you are finding the topics challenging to comprehend, you may need to start from scratch with a professional private tutor.

Superprof offers users access to a catalog of qualified AP Chemistry tutors in their area. And what's best is that most of these tutors provide the first lesson for free!

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