How to Survive AP Chemistry

So you have embarked on a journey to prevent yourself from taking the first semester of General Chemistry in college. Your less ambitious friends are going to call you crazy, but even if you fail to succeed in getting college credit, you have much to gain from this course. The key is keeping awake and thinking outside the box.


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    Review all of your old notes from chemistry class. If you don't have those, ask somebody who has taken neat notes from a prior class and study those. The main point here is to simply refresh your memory: you're not going to remember it all or even be close.
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    Walk into AP Chemistry with some confidence. Don't be intimidated: just do it.
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    Take notes and make flashcards of ideas and formulas. Try to synthesize your own flashcards and not just copy from the book and your notes.
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    Read the chapter at least three times before the test. Sounds like overkill, but it's not.
    • "How should you study? Study like there's going to be an exam on the material the next morning. If you study like that, you won't have to worry about cramming for the exam later." - Unknown professor.
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    Keep in mind your fundamental properties of everything chemistry related. Start with the basic states of matter and end with the chemical properties such as pH and electronegativity. Cover the bases.
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    Don't be afraid of pH. Will it hurt you to do outside practice problems from the Internet? Of course not.
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    Use the Internet often for extra practice. There are countless resources out there on the Internet, and the problems are all different. You won't get just a narrow mental work out.
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    Watch your stoichiometry. A lot of problems will be set up perfectly within the problem itself, so keep your eyes peeled.
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    Memorize strong acids and bases. They ionize 100%, and are therefore very important.
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    Work through old tests and practice tests on the Internet. These will help you get used to the type of questions you'll be asked in the exam. Plenty of practice could mean the difference between passing and failing the exam.
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    Make mnemonic devices for everything. It especially helps with cations and anions.
    • If you don't understand, then learn chemistry in a way that fits you, such as renaming concepts to fit with a corresponding memory.
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    Do all of your homework assignments. Some teachers look simply for effort.
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    Perfect practice makes perfect test scores. By doing problems related to your current material, you can be fully readied for that material's test or quiz. Do them over and over again until you get them right.


  • If you don't understand something now, that doesn't mean you'll never be able to grasp the material later. Just take your time and with applied efforts, you will surely come close to meeting your goals in the class.
  • Always stay positive and look to become better at the work.
  • Remember throughout the year, that by taking AP Chemistry, you are earning yourself a huge advantage over other college-bound students by becoming more prepared for college level chemistry courses regardless of whatever grades you may be making in the class.
  • It's okay if you don't get something right the first time. Try again and again, until you can do it perfectly.


  • Always wear school-assigned lab safety goggles during lab procedures to avoid contact with chemicals that could possibly damage your vision.
  • Rinse your hands, arms and any other body parts (e.g. eyes, hair) that could have possibly came into contact with lab materials bearing chemicals.
  • In respect to this article's title, an AP Chemistry classroom can also potentially be a dangerous environment, as many hazardous chemicals such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and of course highly flammable gases are almost always used on a routinely basis. Take caution and follow all instructions carefully when performing labs with chemicals and other materials which can be harmful to you or to others in the classroom.
  • Wear a welder's helmet or other qualified device to protect your eyes from bright ultraviolet light rays and infrared lights when conducting lab reactions that produce sparks.

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Categories: Advanced Placement Courses and Exams