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Ace the AP Chemistry Exam: Tips for Students

written by: Ashley Hansen • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 1/6/2012

When you're enrolled in AP Chemistry, all your coursework throughout the semester leads up to the final AP exam at the end of the year. Your grade on this exam can be counted towards college credit at some schools, so make sure you study carefully.

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    Course Overview

    Many high schools offer AP Chemistry as an option among other science courses. This class is typically intended for junior and senior students who tend to excel in scientific courses. When enrolled in AP Chemistry, students should expect very challenging coursework. Typically, AP courses require more homework and study time than a typical high school class. The curriculum covers advanced areas in chemistry and is intended to match the level of a college course.

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    Exam Topics

    The AP Chemistry exam measures a student's knowledge in the topics covered in the class. The exam consists of two sections. The first section is multiple-choice questions, while the second section is a free-response section that includes short-answer questions and three essays. Five basic areas are covered in the exam questions, with each area comprising a certain percentage of the question topics. The topics and their corresponding percentages are as follows:

    1. Structure of Matter - 20%
    2. States of Matter - 20%
    3. Reactions - 35-40%
    4. Descriptive Chemistry - 10-15%
    5. Laboratory - 5-10%

    Students should also review the types of chemical calculations covered in their coursework before taking the AP Chemistry exam. This includes empirical formulas, molecular formulas, mole fractions, thermodynamic calculations and kinetics calculations.

    Finally, students should also create a study guide for the many laws taught in their AP Chemistry class. Examples of laws to study are Faraday's law of electrolysis, gas laws, Dalton's law and Graham's law.

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    Study Resources

    Many students begin studying for the AP Chemistry exam as soon as a few weeks into the semester. It's helpful to make clear, concise notes to which you can refer when the AP exam approaches. Also, use the questions from class tests as study material for the AP exam.

    A student's notes alone may not be sufficient study material for the AP exam, and some students may wonder about other ways to prepare. Try one or more of these additional study resources when preparing for the AP Chemistry exam:

    • Study Groups: Form a group with your fellow AP Chemistry classmates. Not only will you be able to share your knowledge, you can also keep a regular study routine by setting weekly meetings.
    • Exam Guide Books: You can purchase a book intended for use as a study guide for the AP Chemistry exam. These are available online or at major bookstores.
    • Test Prep Classes: Sign up for a test prep class. A number of companies offer a weekend or evening course that includes a practice test and a comprehensive review of test material.
    • College Board's website: You can look on the for more information about the exam and sample questions.
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    Study Hard

    The AP Chemistry test won't be easy, but if you keep to a regular study machine you should do well. Remember to ask you teacher for help and use whatever resources you need to feel comfortable before the test. Once you know what colleges you want to apply to, you can ask your guidance counselor or the college's admissions office about whether your scores will count for college credits at those schools.