Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Chemistry

This guide will cover some effective strategies and tips for the AP Chemistry exam that will help you achieve a 5. In this article, I'll break down these tricks and resources to ensure you have the knowledge to excel in the AP Chemistry test. With the right approach and the right AP Chemistry exam tips, you can undoubtedly master the exam and attain a top score.

Free AP Chemistry Resources

If you find yourself cramming last minute for the AP Chemistry exam, no need to stress at all – we've all been in that situation! So, if you're wondering how to pass AP Chemistry with limited time, we've got you covered. Check out these awesome student-made AP Chemistry exam tips and resources tailor-made for last-minute cramming.

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP Chemistry Exam?

Alright, let's discuss the key things you'll be tested on in the AP Chemistry exam:

  1. Describing models and representations, across different scales.

  2. Figuring out scientific questions and methods.

  3. Making representations or models of chemical phenomena.

  4. Analyzing and interpreting models and representations, whether on one scale or multiple scales.

  5. Tackling problems using mathematical relationships.

  6. Crafting scientific explanations and arguments.

There you have it, the main practices to focus on for the AP Chemistry exam, focus on studying and your AP Chemistry test tips!

What is on the AP Chemistry Exam?

There are 9 units covered on the AP Chemistry exam. Each of these units represents a period and weighted as follows, to help you know how to prepare for the AP Chemistry exam 


Exam Weighting


Unit 1: Atomic Structure and Properties


  • Atomic structure and electron configuration

  • Moles and molar mass

  • Elemental composition of substances

  • Mass spectroscopy of elements

  • Photoelectron spectroscopy

  • Periodic trends

  • Composition of mixtures

  • Valence electrons and ionic compounds

Unit 2: Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties


  • Lewis diagrams

  • Resonance and formal charge

  • Intramolecular force and potential energy

  • VSEPR and bond hybridization

  • Structure of ionic solids

  • Structure of metals and alloys

Unit 3: Intermolecular Forces and Properties


  • Intermolecular forces

  • Solids, liquids, and gases

  • Properties of solids

  • Kinetic molecular theory

  • Ideal gas law

  • Deviation from ideal gas law

  • Solutions and mixtures

  • Representations of solutions

  • Separation of solutions and mixtures - chromatography

  • Solubility

  • Spectroscopy and the electromagnetic spectrum

  • Photoelectric effect

  • Beer-Lambert Law

Unit 4: Chemical Reactions


  • Introduction for reactions

  • Representations of reactions

  • Net ionic equations

  • Physical and chemical changes

  • Stoichiometry

  • Types of chemical reactions

  • Introduction to acid-base reactions

  • Oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions

  • Introduction to titration

Unit 5: Kinetics


  • Reaction rates

  • Introduction to rate law

  • Concentration changes over time

  • Collision model

  • Reaction energy profile

  • Elementary reactions

  • Introduction to reaction mechanisms

  • Reaction mechanism and rate law

  • Steady-state approximation

  • Multistep reaction energy profile

  • Catalysis

Unit 6: Thermodynamics


  • Endothermic and exothermic processes

  • Energy diagrams

  • Heat transfer and thermal equilibrium

  • Heat capacity and calorimetry

  • Energy of phase changes

  • Introduction to enthalpy of reaction

  • Enthalpy of formation

  • Bond enthalpies

  • Hess's Law

Unit 7: Equilibrium


  • Introduction to equilibrium

  • Direction of reversible reactions

  • Reaction quotient and equilibrium constant

  • Calculating the equilibrium constant

  • Magnitude of the equilibrium constant

  • Properties of the equilibrium constant

  • Calculating the equilibrium concentrations

  • Representations of equilibrium

  • Introduction to Le Chatelier's Principle

  • Reaction quotient and Le Chatelier's Principle

  • Introduction to solubility equilibria

  • Common-ion effect

  • pH and solubility

  • Free energy of dissolution

Unit 8: Acids and Bases


  • Introduction to acids and bases

  • Molecular structures of acids and bases

  • pH and pOH of strong acids and bases

  • Weak acid and base equilibria

  • Acid-base reactions and buffers

  • pH and pKa

  • Acid-base titrations

  • Properties of buffers

  • Henderson-Hasselbalch equation

  • Buffer capacity

Unit 9: Applications of Thermodynamics


  • Introduction to entropy

  • Absolute entropy and entropy change

  • Free energy and equilibrium

  • Gibbs Free Energy and thermodynamic favorability

  • Cell potential and free energy

  • Thermodynamic and kinetic control

  • Coupled reactions

  • Galvanic (Voltaic) and electrolytic cells

  • Cell potential under nonstandard conditions

  • Electrolysis and Faraday's Law

AP Chemistry Exam Format

Just like other AP tests, the AP Chemistry exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. Don't worry, on both parts, you'll have handy resources like a periodic table and a chart with formulas and constants to help you out with your calculations.

Now, here's the cool news! Starting from the 2023 AP Chemistry exam, everyone gets to use a calculator on both sections. Yep, no more restrictions like before. So, you can crunch those numbers without any worries! If you want more details about the Calculator Policy for AP exams, you can check it out here.

What does the AP Chemistry MCQ look like?

Alright, let me give you a quick rundown of the multiple-choice section in the AP Chemistry exam:

  • Number of Questions: You'll face 60 questions, each offering four answer choices.

  • Time: You'll have one hour and 30 minutes to tackle this section.

  • Scoring: This part holds 50% of your overall AP Chemistry score, so it's crucial to do well.

  • Calculator Use: Good news! You can use a calculator, starting with the 2023 AP Chemistry exams.

Keep in mind that some questions will come in groups, where they relate to a set of data, while others will be standalone questions.

What does the AP US History FRQ look like?

Alright, let's dive into the free-response section of the AP Chemistry exam:

  • Number of Questions: You'll encounter seven free-response questions, consisting of four short-response and three long-response ones.

  • Time: You've got one hour and 45 minutes to tackle this section, so take your time and stay focused.

  • Scoring: This part is super important as it makes up 50% of your overall AP Chemistry score.

  • Calculator Use: Good news again! You can use a calculator during this section, so feel free to crunch those numbers.

Keep it chill, do your best, and you'll rock the free-response section! 

When do AP Chemistry scores come out?

You can expect your scores to be released in mid-July every year, usually around 8 AM. If you want to stay updated or check for any changes, you can refer to the official CollegeBoard Annual calendar. Keep an eye out, and good luck with your results!

Should I Self Study AP Chemistry ?

AP Chemistry is a difficult exam to take, and by utilizing these AP Chemistry exam tips, tricks, and resources, you should understand how to study for the AP Chemistry exam.  

  1. Always Ask Why - Don't just breeze past questions you guessed right. Take a moment to understand why your answer was correct. Chemistry concepts build on each other, so if you miss the fundamental reason behind your answers, you might face trouble later on. Know the "why" behind properties based on molecular and atomic structure to handle various scenarios confidently.

  2. Memorize Formulas - Sure, you'll have a formula sheet, but it's smoother sailing if you know the formulas by heart. Memorize them and understand their applications to different question types on the test.

  3. Review Your Labs - Labs are gold in AP Chemistry! They make the concepts real and relatable. Understand why your results happened and how they connect to chemical reactions and properties. It'll help you tackle those lab-based questions on the exam.

  4. Learn To Estimate - No calculators in the multiple-choice section? No worries! Practice estimating answers logically. The better you know chemical reactions, the easier it gets to estimate without crunching lengthy calculations.

  5. Practice With Official Materials - Grab the free downloadable AP Chemistry materials from the College Board. Use real practice questions and sample answers with commentary to get familiar with the exam content.

  6. Get a Review Book - Trusty review books are your friends! They structure your study, offer more practice problems, and provide answer explanations. Some good options are "5 Steps to a 5: AP Chemistry 2023" and "Barron's AP Chemistry." For extra practice, "Sterling AP Chemistry Practice Questions" is a gem.

Is the AP Chemistry Exam Hard?

Hey, let's talk about AP Chemistry – it's no secret that it's considered one tough cookie among science classes. Many students don't even bother with asking "Is AP Chemistry Hard?" or “How to ace the AP Chemistry exam?” They dive right into "How Hard is AP Chemistry?" And you know what? The truth is, AP Chemistry is challenging, no doubt about it. But here's the good news – if you're aware of the challenge, take a look at AP Chemistry exam tips, and plan your game accordingly, you can totally ace the AP Chemistry exam with a top-notch score. It's all about being prepared, knowing the best way to study for the AP Chemistry exam and being ready to take it on! 

Explaining the 2023 AP Chemistry Scores

Alright, let's break down some stats about AP Chemistry in 2016. About 53.6% of students managed to pass the test with a score of 3 or higher, and only 10.5% scored a top-notch 5. The average score for the year was 2.69, and the scores have been pretty consistent from 2014 to 2016.

I get it; these numbers might seem discouraging, especially when only half of the test-takers pass. And yep, lots of colleges prefer scores of 4 or higher for credit. But don't sweat it too much – AP classes are known to be challenging! Actually, AP Chemistry's average score in 2016 was higher than some other AP classes like AP US Government, AP Environmental Science, and AP Human Geography. Plus, its average is on par with other common AP exams, like AP US History, AP European History, and AP English Literature. So, while AP Chemistry is tough, it might not be way harder than many other common AP courses.

Now, past scores can give us an overall picture, but they can't predict if AP Chemistry will be hard for you personally.

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