Course Tour—AP Chemistry

The Basics

Why does lightning have a specific smell? How on earth is plastic made? What happens to food when it’s being cooked? The answers to all these questionsand many, many morelie within AP Chemistry. Equivalent to an introductory college-level chemistry course, students learn all the foundations of chemistry through hands-on lab experiments. The course focuses on four Big Ideas:

  1. scale, proportion, and quantity,

  2. structure and properties of substances,

  3. transformations,

  4. and energy.

The Exam*

This optional exam is taken at the end of the year. In 2021, 3 testing dates will be available in May and June with options for traditional paper testing or digital exams.

In-School Paper Testing Sessions (Early & Late May)

  • Multiple Choice: 60 questions in 1 hour 30 minutes. [50% of score] / Calculator not permitted

  • Free Response: 7 Questions in 1 hour 45 minutes. [50% of score]

    • 3 long answer [10 points each]

    • 4 short answer [4 points each]

    • Scientific and graphing calculators recommended

In-School or At-Home Digital Testing Sessions (Early June)

  • Multiple Choice: 60 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes. [50% of score] / Questions will be written so that use of calculators would not be helpful.

  • Mixed Multiple Choice and Free Response [50% of score]

  • Multiple Choice: 45 questions in 65 minutes. / Calculator is not helpful.

  • Free response: 3 questions in 45 minutes.

    • 1 long answer [10 points]

    • 2 short answer [4 points each]

    • Scientific and graphing calculators are recommended for Free Response.

*The AP Chemistry exam is working on several changes for 2021. If this information seems new to you, you may have been looking at the exam format of previous years.

The Statistics**

  • 158,847 students took the AP Chemistry course exam in 2019.

  • Of those students who took the exam, 55.6% scored a 3 or higher.

  • The mean score was a 2.74.

  • 11.5 percent scored a 5! (10.6% in 2020)

AP Chemistry is one of the more difficult science AP courses. The passing percentage is lower than AP Biology and Physics 2 but higher than Environmental Science and Physics 1.

**All statistics are sourced from College Board 2019 & 2020 score distributions.

Additional Course Facts

  • Most Students take AP Chemistry in their Junior year.

  • Some colleges will accept a passing AP score as college credit, which can decrease college costs.

  • College Board is introducing some changes to the AP Chemistry Exam in 2021, so make sure you’re looking at the new formats when you’re practicing!

Why should you take this?

AP Chemistry combines rigorous science with creative thinking. When designing experiments you’ll be utilizing known facts and problem solving on the fly. Overcoming those problems teaches you patience, creativity, and resilience and makes finding the answer feel like the absolute biggest win! 

Who doesn’t love a good scientific narrative? The stories of real life scientists like Marie Curie or the fictional scientists of literature: these can be your stories, too. In chemistry, even “failures” are opportunities to learn. Chemistry’s willingness to try and fail and try again has led to such discoveries as matches, rubber tires, and even penicillin.

We welcome all scientistsmad or otherwisetoo come join us at Pivot Tutors for any AP Chemistry help you might need!

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