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Is AP Chemistry Hard? Is AP Chem Worth Taking?

5 min readoctober 2, 2021

dalia

Dalia Savy

user51456809


AP Chemistry 🧪

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Hey 👋 So, you're wondering if you should take AP Chemistry 🧪 Let's talk about it!

Overview of AP Chemistry 🤗

AP Chemistry gives you a taste of scientific concepts that you may learn in college, especially if you become a STEM major. The two prerequisites are Algebra II and a regular Chemistry course to give you good background knowledge for this course. The second school starts, you get into AP Chem content.
If you haven't taken these courses though, don't worry, we got your back 😉 All units build upon each other, so studying throughout the year is really important for AP Chem. It'll only help in the long run and lower your stress when you get closer to the exam date ✏️.

Format of the Exam

Each section of the exam counts as 50% of your total score. In the first section, you are given 1.5 hours to answer 60 multiple-choice questions without a calculator. In the second section, you are given an hour and 45 minutes to answer 3 long free-response questions (FRQs) and 4 short FRQs. A calculator 📈 is allowed on the FRQ section.
The following question is an example of one of the long FRQs. It went up to part (h)! Usually, one long FRQ covers several units in the course. For example, this question has unit 2, unit 7, and unit 9.
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Image Courtesy of College Board

The next question is an example of a short FRQ, and it usually covers content from one AP Chemistry unit. These tend to be a little less challenging as well.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-VLaxrqAsvpop.png?alt=media&token=c67c6f8b-e74f-4a48-83fb-f232ef605f88

Image Courtesy of College Board

Don't stress. Once you nail the concepts and units, all that is left to do is practice. The more you expose yourself to questions, the lower the chance you see an unexpected question type on the exam (no surprises are always the best 🤫).

Well, How Hard is AP Chem, Really? 🧠

Data 📊

According to the College Board:
  • 11.5% got a 5 in 2019 🥳
  • 55.6% passed the exam and got a 3+ in 2019 🎉
There is no way to really judge how hard the course is, but many deem it to be harder than AP Biology. It all truly depends on the teacher you have, your workload, and how much time you want to commit to this course alone.

Factors to Consider 💭

  1. Workload: Even though this factor changes based upon your teacher, expect plenty of work!
    1. It is best to set aside about 30 minutes to an hour every day to focus just on AP Chem. You may have homework that helps reinforce the topics you recently learned, but even if you didn't, it's really helpful to do some practice questions and review the lesson. With this routine throughout the year, you're setting yourself up for success!
    2. If you think is overwhelming, it's okay! Everyone has their own way to work and study. We all know people who cram the night before and somehow do really well on their exams. As long as you can prepare for your exams and study, this course is definitely manageable.
  2. Motivation: Motivation plays a huge part in school, in general. A little bit of motivation can help you through the day, and complete everything on your to-do list ✅ If you are going to take AP Chem, set a goal for yourself, and celebrate doing the little things!
    1. Whether or not you love chemistry, or even studying in general, you can definitely find motivation by setting a goal 🏆
  3. Time commitment: If you know you're going to take lots of other hard classes and participate in tons of sports and extracurriculars, don't push yourself. Do what you think you can handle and what is best for you.

Is AP Chem Worth it Though?

It all depends on you! Know yourself and your study habits before signing yourself up for a challenging course. Here are some factors to consider:
  1. Your interests: If you love science, AP Chem is definitely a viable option. If not, it may not be the best choice. AP Chem also explains a lot about how the world 🌍 works.
    1. If you plan to major in medicine, AP Chemistry is a great way to gain background knowledge for the courses you will take in college. If not, you may find it hard to commit to this class when you also have other difficult classes to manage.
  2. Challenge: At times, especially towards the end of the year, you may find the course really challenging. Sometimes a challenge is good, though. No matter what, you could always work through it, especially with all the resources provided for you. If you really want to challenge yourself and gain new skills, AP Chem is a good class to take.
  3. Credit: Many colleges don't accept the credit for AP Chemistry because a good foundation of chemistry knowledge is required in future chemistry classes 🧪 Trust me, this is for your own good! Regardless, taking the class will ease your stress when you take the college-level introductory class.

Resources:

Quotes from Students that have taken AP Chemistry

"AP Chemistry provided me with skills and modes of thinking that require critical thinking and analysis. It was so interesting to learn about the chemical world around us, whether it be learning about the smallest building blocks that form matter, the ideas behind thermodynamics and kinetics, or discovering the distinctive properties of various elements." —Meghna P.
"The beautiful thing about chemistry is that the more you understand it, the more interesting and mind-blowing it becomes!" —Mishika G
"Sometimes, it's harder for you to understand something than it is for someone else. Everyone is different. Pick yourself back up, ask for help, and just do your best!"—Giuliana P.

As always, we've got your back...

Resources:

Closing Thoughts

I personally loved AP Chemistry and would recommend it to anyone. It provides the rigor that many students look for and is truly interesting 🧠 Plus, you can acquire many mathematical and conceptual skills from AP Chemistry. No matter what you choose, good luck!
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