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General chemistry (sometimes called "gen chem" for short) is a course often taught at the high school and introductory university level. It is intended to serve as a broad introduction to a variety of concepts in chemistry and is widely taught. At the university level, it is also sometimes used as a "weed out" course for disciplines (sometimes related, sometimes not) which are perceived to require a high level of intellectual rigor or large course loads. It is also one of the few chemistry courses in most universities that does not explicitly explore a particular discipline such as organic chemistry or analytical chemistry.
General chemistry courses typically introduce concepts such as stoichiometry, prediction of reaction products, thermodynamics, nuclear chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical kinetics, and many of the rudiments of physical chemistry. Though the list of subjects covered is typically broad, leading some to criticize both the class and the discipline as encouraging memorization, most general chemistry courses are firmly grounded in several fundamental physical rules for which the primary challenge is understanding when the rules are applicable.
The concepts taught in a typical general chemistry course are as follows:
- Conservation of energy
- Conservation of mass
- Elementary atomic theory
- Periodic table and periodicity
- Law of constant composition
- Gas laws
- Nuclear chemistry
- Acid-base chemistry
- Chemical bonding
- Chemical kinetics
- Chemical equilibria