AP Chemistry

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Advanced Placement Chemistry (AP Chemistry or AP Chem) is a course and examination offered by the College Board as a part of the Advanced Placement Program to give American and Canadian high school students the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and earn college-level credit.

The course[edit]

AP Chemistry is a course geared toward highly motivated students with interests in chemical and physical sciences as well as any of the biological sciences. This rigorous course prepares students to take the AP Chemistry exam toward the end of the academic year. AP Chemistry topics include atomic theory, chemical bonding, phases of matter, solutions, types of reactions, chemical equilibrium, reaction kinetics, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics.


The College Board recommends successful completion of High School Chemistry and Algebra II;[1] however, requirement of this may differ from school to school. AP Chemistry usually requires knowledge of Algebra II; however, some schools allow students to take Algebra II concurrently with this class. The requirement of regular or honors level High School Chemistry may also be waived, but usually requires completion of a special assignment or exam.

Topics covered[edit]

The exam covers common chemistry topics, including:

Make-up of Exam[edit]

  • Structure and Matter, 20%
  • States of Matter, 20%
  • Reactions, 35-40%
  • Descriptive Chemistry, 10-15%
  • Laboratory, 5-10%

The exam[edit]

The annual AP Chemistry examination, which is typically administered in May, is divided into two major sections (multiple-choice questions and free response essays). The old test was composed of two sections are composed of 75 multiple-choice questions and 6 free-response essay prompts that require the authoring of chemical equations, solution of problems, and development of thoughtful essays in response to hypothetical scenarios. The new test has 60 multiple choice questions and 7 free response questions.

  • Section I, the multiple-choice portion, does not allow the use of a calculator, nor does it provide any additional reference material, other than a periodic table. 90 minutes are allotted for the completion of Section I. Section I covers the breadth of the curriculum.
  • Section II, the free response section, is divided into two sections: Part A, requiring the completion of three problems, and Part B, containing three problems. Part A, lasting 55 minutes, allows the use of calculators, while Part B, lasting 40 minutes, does not. The first problem in Part A concerns equilibrium related to solubility, acids and bases, or pressure/concentration. The first question of Part B is a chemical equation question in which 3 scenarios are presented and the student is required to work all 3 scenarios, authoring a balanced net ionic chemical equation for each scenario and answer questions about the equations and scenarios. If time permits, students may edit their responses from Part A during the time allotted for responding to Part B, though without the use of a calculator. The student must complete all six questions.

While the use of calculators is prohibited during Section I and Section II Part B, a periodic table, a list of selected standard reduction potentials, and two pages of equations and conventions are available for use during the entirety of Section II.

The 2014 AP Chemistry exam was the first administration of a redesigned test as a result of a redesigning of the AP Chemistry course. The exam format is now different from the past years, with 60 multiple choice, 3 long free response questions, and 4 short free response questions. The new exam has a focus on longer, more in depth, lab-based questions. More detailed information can be found at the related link.[2]

Grade distribution[edit]

AP Chemistry Test Grade Distribution:[3]

Score 2007[4] 2008[5] 2009[6] 2010[7] 2011[8] 2012[9] 2013[10] 2014[11]
5 15.3% 18.4% 18.0% 17.1% 17.0% 16.4% 18.9% 10.1%
4 18.0% 17.5% 17.9% 18.5% 18.4% 19.3% 21.5% 16.6%
3 23.0% 20.0% 20.2% 19.3% 19.5% 20.1% 18.8% 25.7%
2 18.5% 14.3% 14.2% 12.7% 14.6% 15.0% 14.9% 25.8%
1 25.3% 29.9% 29.8% 32.3% 30.4% 29.2% 26.0% 21.8%
Mean 2.79 2.80 2.80 2.76 2.77 2.79 2.92 2.67
Number of Students 97,136 100,586 104,789 115,077 122,651 132,425 140,006


External links[edit]