Advice from Students to Students
for AP Chemistry

I asked current students of AP Chemistry, at the end of the school year and after the exam, to answer some questions by way of providing information to incoming students of the course. These unedited statements were selected from student responses to represent the way most students felt, although some minority opinions are also included. Please read through this information and use it to help you to be as successful as possible in the upcoming school year.


Approaches to Learning and Studying

When you started this course how did you approach learning and studying?


“When I started this course, my general approach was if I understood the majority of the problems from the problem set, I was probably okay for whatever homework quizzes we would get. This worked out for the most part, but there were a couple of chapters where I could have benefited from more thoroughly checking my answers because I gave myself a false sense of correctness on certain problems.”


“At the beginning of this course I did not realize just how much work would need to be put into studying and practicing. As time went on I came to realize how important going through work thoroughly was for understanding concepts.”


“When I began this course, I approached learning and studying with the assumption that I would understand each topic with ease. I thought that by paying attention in class, reading the chapters, completing the problem set, and brief studying, I could fully understand the topics in each chapter.”


“I first approached learning and studying as a goal to be accomplished, but as a the course progressed, I began to view it as an ongoing process that is never really 'finished.'”


“When I started this course, I was a procrastinator. I saved work for the night before which was playing out okay up until the start of this class, when it went downhill. In this class, I learned that procrastination is not a good quality to have if you want to understand the material and get sufficient grades. Also, I was used to just memorizing information and spitting it up on quizzes and tests, but that does not work for chemistry. Because it is so math-based and the responses are open-ended, you need to be able to understand the material rather than just memorize it.”


“I didnít really put too much effort into studying and learning outside of school just because I didnít find enough of a challenge in my classes for heavy studying to be necessaryÖÖ..then I got into this classÖ...”


“When I first started this course, I had the naive approach to learning where I would comprehend the information to the point where I could pass an assessment, and then I would just move on. With chemistry, where the content is so dependent on prior knowledge, it truly requires a fuller and deeper understanding of all the concepts.”


“At the beginning of the year I kind of figured I could do what I normally do when it comes to learning from a textbook and just kind of skim over it without going into very much detail. I also thought that just because something was simpler it meant I didnít have to study that for a quiz and I quickly found out that neither of these approaches were very good.”



What do Grades Mean?

Many students look at assignments as products they need to produce and grades as a measure of the quality of that product. A teacher, on the other hand, sees assignments as a tool students may use in order to learn concepts or skills. For a teacher, grades are a reflection of the teacherís judgement about how well a student has learned something. Describe whether and how your perspective on this matter changed in this course.


“Within the first few weeks, I realized that learning topics in AP Chemistry is a long process that takes place up until the moment you pass in your quiz. In AP Chemistry, each assignment is a tool to learn the topics. This is not the case in other classes. Learning and understanding topics in other classes is a given. As a result, each assignment in other classes serves not as a stepping stone to understanding, but as a meaningless barrier students must leap over to sustain their GPA.”


“Because small assignments were not always graded they were suggested, my perspective has changed. I now have more of a teacherís perspective because my grades reflect how the assignments strengthened my understanding of concepts.”


“When I first started this course, I thought of homework as something that I just needed to finish, but by the end of the course I viewed it as a tool to prepare me for the assessments. Additionally, I used to see the quizzes as a test of how well I knew the material, and while it still is, I see them more as preparing me for the AP exam.”


“In this class, assignments arenít just busy work. They are actually important for learning the material. You canít just do an assignment to ďget it done.Ē You should actually take the time to understand it because it will help you later.”


“I approach grades as reflective of how much I understand a concept. Rather than just try and aim for perfect grades and do the minimum otherwise I find that using grades to shape how/what I approach for further study is the best way to go about learning.”


“My perspective on grades did not change during this course, but I did learn to live with the grades that I got. I know that chemistry is the hardest AP class, but I still wanted to see high grades on all of my assignments. However, I will tell you right now: even if you get great grades on everything, it will go down at the quarter test. The quarter tests are hard, but I guess they are helpful to refresh on old material from the beginning of the quarter. This class has taught me that getting on the high honor roll is going to be hard no matter how hard you try and that the main thing is not grades but learning.”


“The assignments for this class were actually helpful in learning, understanding, and developing the ability to problem solve with the material. That gain is what motivated me to do it versus the grade (which is what was my main motivation before this class)”


“When I started, I approached learning and studying by trying to learn the overview of the topics instead of going in depth. I tried to rely on just reading the textbook and understanding some of the problems of the problem set.”


“My perspective on this matter changed during this course because I went from the first stated mindset, to reflecting on the quizzes more and being able to see what I didnít know and what parts I missed of certain topics. Although I still see grades sometimes as how smart I am and the quality of my work and studying, Iím able to see how what I truly learned and what I was still unsure of.”


“In my opinion, my viewpoint on the idea of grades has remained the same over the course of the year. At the end of the day, grades are the most important thing for a wide majority of students, and the main goal of every assignment is to receive a good grade, not a tool to understand concepts to a higher degree.”


“While I would always prefer to both understand the material and get a good grade, by now Iíve realized that the two donít always go hand in hand. Especially for when we have quarter tests there is just so much material to know that I had to accept that I wouldnít learn everything which also meant that my grade wasnít what I wanted despite how prepared I felt.”


“The first quarter and semester, I was really fixed on my grade. After the first quarter test my grade dropped about 10 points. Iím not going to lie I was pretty sad about that and almost dropped out, but I am so glad I didnít. Throughout the year I have learned so much and realized that it isnít just about the grade. I could have dropped down to level 4 and had a better grade, but I wouldnít have had the opportunity to learn the things I have in this class.”


“The meaning of a grade can vary greatly depending on the class and teacher. However, in this class I would say that grades really do reflect how much time a student puts in outside of class, in most cases. In a lot of classes I have been in and am in, you can do pretty well just by completing homework, but since there is no true homework in chem, they reflect how much studying you did for the quiz at home.”


“Before the course, I definitely thought of assignments as things I needed to get done ASAP. I thought of them as arbitrary forms of check-ins that teachers had always given because they either had to or believe they had to. However, most specifically, even if I didnít do the problem set before problem set day, Iíd still go back and do the problems because I knew they would help immensely even if I didnít have to. I could easily copy down the answers from the answer key but I knew that wouldnít benefit me at all and I learned how to identify which assignments were actually vehicles for learning and which werenít.”



Learning vs. Good Grades

What is more important to you, learning new material completely and thoroughly or getting good grades? If your perspective on this has changed this year explain how it has changed and why.


“This is a tricky question because of course I want to learn the material thoroughly, but without good grades, it makes it more difficult to get in a good college. However, if you focus on learning the material well, the good grades will come naturally, not the other way around.”


“At the beginning of the year, I was probably more concerned about getting good grades. Grades have always been very important to me, but as the exam approached I found that I really had to shift my focus towards comprehension if I wanted to do well on the exam.”


“AP Chemistry is the only class I have ever taken in which understanding topics is not a given. As a result, the primary goal is about learning instead of getting good grades. In other classes, learning is a given so the only thing left to strive for is better grades.”


:The most important thing for me is to be able to understand concepts enough that I do not have to worry about trying to get good grades. If I get a bad grade it means that I have to put further effort into learning a concept.”


“In the beginning of the year it was getting good grades and it still is important to me, but Iíve learned there is more to this class than that. This class really prepared me for future college classes and taught me so much. Grades do not measure who you are or how smart you are. The real value in this class is the knowledge you acquire.”


“Before, I would care more about getting good grades, but from this class, I was really proud of the time I took to understand really difficult and abstract topics despite getting a grade lower than I would have liked. I think now I care just as much about learning completely new material as the grade.”


“At the beginning of the year I thought that grades were more important, but as I started to realize that in order to get good grades, you really need to fully understand the material, so I began to prioritize knowledge over grades, which in turn helped my grade.”


“I believe that these two concepts go hand in hand. If you do not understand the concepts well enough to apply them in every possible situation, there is no way that you will get a great grade. To me, I still believe that getting good grades is more important because that is just the way that I have always thought. I understand that learning is more important than seeing high nineties on all of your assignments, but that doesnít mean that it has changed my perspective. By taking this course, I have learned that I donít have to get amazing grades as long as I understand the information, but it is still hard to swallow when you get a bad grade.”


“Learning the material thoroughly is more important because if you donít do that, then you wonít actually remember what youíve learned, and when it does come to exam time, you will not do well or understand anything.”


“The two are on similar levels, but I have to say Iím more interested in learning the material and being able to understand it. Sometimes grades donít reflect your true intelligence and become the main focus instead of actually trying to learn new material. My perspective has shifted more towards learning the material because I didnít always receive good grades, and when I did it was from trying to thoroughly understand what I was doing and why, not just trying to do whatever I could to get the good grade.”


“Receiving good grades is far more important to me than understanding the material. At the highschool level, it seems tedious to really apply myself to a subject where I donít see myself spending the rest of my life doing. Therefore, decent grades have and will likely remain an absolute priority to me.”


“For me both would be ideal. I feel that if I have studied as much as I can handle and feel that I have a good grasp on the topic in question, and Iíve gone in for extra help and taken advantage of the opportunities given to me, then there isnít anything else I can do. While hopefully this results in a grade Iím satisfied with, Iím also okay if I donít as well but I feel like I learned what I needed to and did the best that I could. Taking this class has given me a better understanding that all I can do is put the work in and hope that the result is what I want.”


“Fortunately, for me, when I know the material completely I will get a good grade and that is how AP Chem is set up, but in other classes itís a bit different. I change my mindset based on the class and how much I enjoy that class and for chemistry I quickly learned that I really enjoyed being able to learn these abstract concepts and then the few points I lost to things like sig figs became obsolete.”



What are Classes Like?

What should future students know about how Mr. Keller runs a class?


“It's fun but hard. Really, really hard. He makes the class very fun so it’s worth it. He writes notes on the board in class I would suggest trying to follow the notes and not just use them when he posts them online because they are very helpful to have with you all the time and writing it down as he goes helped a lot for retaining and understanding what he was teaching.”


“The lectures can be long, but if you take notes and stay engaged by asking questions, it's not that bad. I highly recommend reading the textbook beforehand because you will be able to get a lot more out of the lecture.”


“Mr. Keller, first and foremost, is always available for help and you should use that to the best of your ability. Heís always in his classroom before class starts in the morning and a bit after school everyday. Also, ask questions even if you just thought of them on the spot (no, there are really no dumb questions) because they add to lecture. Mr. Keller is a dynamic teacher that depends on students, like us, to help direct where extra help or explanation might be needed.”


“Mr. Kellerís class is very structured and predictable. It is easy to know what Mr. Keller expects from you.”


“Future students should know that Mr. Keller runs a very informative class about the material at hand. It is up to the student whether they take advantage of the class time to learn.”


“There are lots of lectures, which may seem like it will be boring at first, but this is one of the most beneficial parts of the class, so pay attention!”


“Mr. Keller tries to keep everyone focussed, which is hard during lectures, by using demonstrations. When he sees that students need a break, he will whip out something cool and somehow manage to relate it to what we are learning. He also understands that two and a half hours of getting talked at is a lot, so sometimes he ends the period short and lets everyone work on packets in groups. This is definitely good because once you reach a certain level of boredom, you cannot pay attention any longer. By giving us the opportunity to work out problems on our own, our time is being used much better than getting lectured when we canít pay attention.”


“He is one of the best teachers I have had, he definitely knows what heís talking about and is available and happy to help with anything you donít understand. While the class is very difficult, the in-class itself is also pretty laid back.”


“They should know that lectures are the way that Mr. Keller teachers topics, but that he incorporates examples and demonstrations to further teach how the topic youíre learning really applies to real life and reactions.”


“It is expected that you do a fair amount of outside work in order to build on your knowledge and understanding the concepts fully.”


“Future students should know that Mr. Keller will throw a lot of stuff at you and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by it, but it also prepares you well for the exam. Youíre always going to have multiple things do each class but as long as you donít let yourself get behind it wonít be that bad.”


“If students try and put off work they will fall behind very quickly. The most important thing to do is to make sure that you are giving yourself enough time to not only complete work but to also spend plenty of time figuring out concepts.”


“The class really forces you to become independent in your learning, which is a very good skill to have for life.”



How to Succeed

What should future students definitely learn how to do right away to give them the best chance at success?


“It is important for early success to thoroughly complete the summer work. Each student should verify that they understand how to complete problems related to each of the topics. Also, after completing the problem set for each chapter, students should check their answers with the solution manual. Finally, each student should make sure to ask Mr. Keller a question a day before each quiz and make sure to document it on the clipboard at the front of the room.”


“It's easy to neglect significant figures at the beginning of the year, but you'll be much better off if you can get into the habit of using them correctly. They can cause you to lose one or two points per question on the exam if you're not careful. Apart from that, learn to figure things out for yourself. The best learning takes place when you can successfully teach yourself. Also, know when to ask questions rather than wasting your time staring at the page.”


“To not be afraid to ask questions. Even if you think you sound dumb, you probably donít and I probably had the same question and also didnít want to ask.”


“Keep your notes organized and stay on top of studying. Donít just memorize information for the quiz, because you will continue to use everything you learn throughout the rest of the year.”


“The majority of concepts come back later in more advanced forms so in a way making sure that you understand each concept is very important for future lessons. The best way to accomplish this is to start off the year by making sure to allocate enough time to chemistry study, I would suggest making it the first priority in order to stay on top of work.”


“Learn how to read into a question and understand all the steps that are being asked because you might know how to do it but get lost because its a very complicated problem that requires multiple steps. I would suggest writing down all the steps that you know next to the question and it will help you to remember the step you might be forgetting, if that ends up being the case.”


“DO THE PROBLEM SET TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. This will only help you to know where your level of understanding is at. Use the solutions manual to help guide you, but donít just copy the answers to ďget it doneĒ because that has no benefit.”


“The most important thing that future students should learn how to do right away is ask questions. I understand that this is clichť, but going in and getting extra help is seriously the best habit you can get into. I went into Mr. Kellerís advisory at least twice a week to ask questions about concepts and problems, and I donít think that I would have done as well as I did if I hadnít done this. Also, make sure you read directions carefully!”


“Focus on figuring out whatís going on, engage yourself in class, and ask questions”


“Learn how to build from foundations. You need to definitely understand converting units and stoichiometry since you constantly build on it and it follows you throughout the entire year.”


“Never push anything off. If you have a study hall or off lab that youíre not doing anything in and you have a chem assignment not due for another week, just get it done then because I can guarantee youíll have a bunch of other things come up between now and then.”


“Dimensional analysis: learn how to calculate tricky units and convert those units (lots of conversions)
Basic arithmetic skills: percentages, ratios, and other algebraic processes
Your own learning style: to succeed in this class you definitely need to know your own limits and strengths. With this knowledge, youíll be able to work with Mr. Keller and work through the curriculum while making adjustments to your studying style or note-taking medium.”


“Stoichiometry! It is a necessary skill for almost every chapter, and learning it early on will just make your life easier in the future.”



What not to Do

What should future students be sure not to do?


“Donít procrastinate. Procrastinating in this class is a lot like a cartoon snowball rolling down a hill. Itís fine at first, but the snowball keeps getting bigger and youíll get really overwhelmed if you donít stay on top of things.”


“Do not skip doing any assignments, every assignment helps. Do not do an assignment just to do it. Each student should truly apply themselves. Do not worry much about the grade you have, it is a harder class than most. ”


“The worst mistake that you can make in AP Chemistry is to put off work until the last minute. There is no real ďfillerĒ work and almost everything that you will have to do for work will also come with a new concept or a new interpretation of a concept.”


“NEVER leave the problem set until the night before the quiz.”


“DONíT COPY THE PROBLEM SET. Donít not read the lab handout or you will be very confused.”


“Donít only do the problems in the problem set that you know how to do. Itís tempting to skip the hard problems and just wait for Mr. Keller to do them during class, but itís best to at least attempt the problem so that you have the experience before being shown how to do it.”


“I know that all students procrastinate everything until the night before it is due, but it will not work well for this class. The workload will take you hours, and there is no way that you can do this in one sitting. Students need to break up the work into manageable chunks because if you donít, you will definitely get stressed out and cry! Chemistry work is challenging and takes a very long time, so procrastination is not going to work well for this class.”


“Donít not do the problem sets
Donít not study for tests or quizzes”


“Future students should definitely not take the course lightly. Thereís a lot of work at times and it seems overwhelming and impossible, but they shouldnít give up on it, because theyíre capable of doing it. Also, donít procrastinate. The work will build up and will never stop, so you wanna make sure youíre always on top of the work and take it seriously.”


“Donít blow off the summer work just because it isnít assigned, if you learn all of this stuff now it will make your life a lot easier when Mr. Keller teaches it to you during the year.”

“Donít leave the problem set or lab reports for the night before.”


“Disregard the problem set on chapters you donít fully get.”


“When in doubt, map it out: the problem set might seem easy to copy down from a friend (do not recommend) or answer key, but honestly, at that point there is no benefit in doing it so give yourself enough time to finish as much of the problem set as you can without decreasing the quality of your work.”



Advice about...

How to handle the workload


“Nothing in AP Chemistry is filler work, make sure you have enough time to work everything out.”


“While you might be able to do everything the day before it's due, I can tell you from experience that it's not worth it and you should spread out the work across as many days as you can manage.”


“Spread it out, plan for the future, do not save too much work for the night before the assignment is due. If you do not have time to read a chapter in its entirety, look at the summary in the back of the chapter. This is by no means ideal, but it is something.”


“Chunk your time and set mental due dates for yourself.”


“Spread it out! Do problem sets early and donít attempt to do the entire chapter outline in one night.”


“ Make sure that you donít procrastinate your work until the night before. The workload for this class is very heavy, so it will take you hours to finish. There will be times when you will save everything for the night before its due and you will regret it because it is very stressful and overwhelming, so I am telling you to split up your workload. If you do it in chunks, you are more likely to remember the information as well as do it to your best ability.”


“Space things out the best you can, donít save everything for the last minute because not only will it stress you out, but you also wonít retain anything.”


“As long as you stay on top of everything and try not to let yourself get overwhelmed youíll get all of it done eventually.”


“AP chem grades are honestly all over the place. In the end, my goal was to be prepared for the AP exam and I was so thatís what mattered for me. So what you have to do is identify why you are in the class that isnít ďto boost my GPAĒ and focus on achieving that.”



How to focus on learning first and grades second


“If you prioritize grades over learning you will quickly fall behind, everything in chemistry builds on something else so having a strong foundation is extremely helpful for understanding later concepts.”


“Honestly, Iíve learned that stressing over grades is really unnecessary because if you understand the material, your grade will reflect that. That being said, you still need to put a considerable amount of time into learning, which is what the homework is for. Itís long and tedious, but as long as you do it and have a fairly good understanding of the problems, you will benefit from it.”


“Everyone knows that AP Chemistry is a difficult class, so do not worry about the grades you get.”


“Realize that if you put in the work now, college will be a lot easier if you already have a good understanding of chemistry. In order to get good grades in this type of class, you must actually understand and learn the material.”


“Know that in order to get that good grades that you want, you need to learn and understand the material first, so focus on that!”


“This is a challenging concept because we are all told that we need to get good grades. In chemistry class, there will definitely be times when you donít do as well as you hoped. However, understanding the material is more important than getting great scores. It is hard to change your perspective on this idea, but learning will help you so much more in the long term than getting good grades.”


“If you focus on learning and figuring things out, then your grades will be good”


“Grades come as a result of you learning the topics. Find what methods work best for you in terms of learning the topics and the grades will follow you as you learn your methods of studying and learning the subjects.”


“If you do all of your work well and put time into it, get extra help when you need it, and take advantage of extra credit opportunities like bonus points or exam wrappers then it makes you understand the material better while also helping to boost your grade a little bit.”


“Remember that this is an AP class and you are bound to get bad grades in just the nature of these classes. There are always ways to raise your grades whether other quizzes or labs or even the problem set which will help you to understand what you did wrong.”


“This is something I personally struggled with, but you just have to remember why you took the class. It definitely wasnít for an easy 100. It was probably to learn new things.”



Asking for help outside of class


“Mr. Keller is extremely willing to help out. Use the written work to find what you do not understand and ask for help with these concepts.”


“If you are afraid to, do it with a friend.”


“In hindsight, asking for help would have made learning substantially easier.”


“ADVISORY will save your life when it comes to extra help and questions. Donít be afraid, Mr. Keller wants to help and see you do well.”


“Take advantage of the fact that you get bonus points and go ask questions before a quiz! There is almost always a big group of people that have the exact same question, and sometimes hearing the same thing multiple times in slightly different ways will help you form a deeper understanding.”


“I cannot stress enough how important it is to seek help during advisory. I basically lived in Mr. Kellerís advisory twice a week, and it was so incredibly helpful. Chemistry is hard to understand, so being able to ask questions that are important for your personal learning is super helpful. You can go in and ask questions by yourself without the pressure of asking in front of others, which is very good if you are scared to ask questions in class.”


“Always take advantage of getting help outside of class. Not only will you possibly get bonus points, but clarifying questions will definitely allow for you to proceed in learning the subjects and make sure you learn the processes more, which can sometimes become blurred in lectures.”


“Advisory is a really good time to get help for this class. Most of the time the only kids in there are AP chem students who are probably just as confused as you are. Even if you donít have the incentive of getting five points on a quiz, just going in to work on stuff in case you get stuck on something can be helpful. I only did this a couple of times but I really shouldíve done it a lot more.”


“Go in during advisory whether before a quiz or just for some basic help. Not only do you get 5 points on all quizzes you also get help from a very smart teacher that knows what he is doing. Mr. Keller is not there to make your life worse he's there to help and open resource that will take just about any stupid question.”


“Make sure you get your 5% for every quiz. Also, I found that working on the problem set during advisories was helpful because Mr. Keller is down the hall if you have any questions.”


“Mr. Keller + AP Chem ? stress but that doesnít mean heís not super approachable and actually knows how to teach difficult concepts properly. Definitely come in during advisory (even if youíre barely awake like me) because those bonus points are really nice, but also because occasionally Mr. Keller covers a topic that he knows is on the quiz and you havenít studied it properly so you get a free hint (itís your job to probe for mini-hints though).”



Asking questions during class

“The only way Mr. Keller is going to know if you are confused is if you tell him or ask questions. You literally could just ask him to explain something again because it wasnít making sense to you.”


“Other people probably share the question you have. In addition, no matter how embarrassing you think the question is, as long as you know which side of the periodic table is the metals, you can not ask a more embarrassing question than what has already been asked.”


“Do your best to know what exactly your question is because that will help clarify and save time.”


“Asking questions during class makes it easier to stay focused on the lecture, especially if it is long. So just ask questions, even if theyíre just clarifying something.”


“Class time is crucial for aiding in the learning process, many times the lectures make concepts 10x clearer and paying attention and following along will help you to stay on top of subjects.”


“Just do it, no matter how stupid you might think the question is its useful to you so just ask the question.”


“If you donít understand something Mr. Keller says, just ask a question. Even if you donít know how to phrase your question, just ask him to go over it again. If you donít ask, the rest of the lecture will be confusing!”


“If I am going to be honest, I did not ask many questions during class. Most of the time, I did not know what was going on until I went home and looked over the notes we did in class, so I wasnít able to come up with questions to ask during the period. However, it was super helpful when others asked questions because chances are if they didnít understand, then I certainly wouldnít either. No one will make fun of you for asking questions because chemistry is so confusing, so if you have one, do not hesitate to ask. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will also be helping your classmates.”


“During lectures, topics become blurred together and itís sometimes hard to separate procedures and the different things youíre learning. Asking questions in class is really helpful for you to follow along and make sure youíre understanding whatís being said. Also, donít be afraid to ask questions because I guarantee most everyone in the class is also confused on that topic.”


“No matter how stupid you think your question, just ask it anyway and I promise Mr. Keller will answer it. I asked my fair share of extremely dumb questions that my class will still laugh about today, but itís better than being confused while everyone else seems to know whatís going on.”


“The worst thing is a boring lecture and Mr. Keller tries really hard to make lecture ďopenĒ or more like a dialogue. Ask the question that pop up before you forget them because itís probably on the quiz. Also, there really is no dumb question even if it has nothing to do with chem (just keep these to a minimum).”



How to benefit the most from in-class instruction


“Make sure that you go into class knowing at least a basic understanding of the concepts you will be covering. If you go into class with zero background you will waste precious and necessary discussion time trying to understand the basics of the lesson.”


“Donít be so focused on writing all the notes down because theyíre posted on classroom. Try and focus on understanding and listening rather than just writing everything down because then you start to miss things Also ask questions and stay engaged.”


“Read your textbook before the lecture. That way, youíre not hearing the information for the first time and you can begin to actually understand it.”


“Ask questions! For most of the year, I fell into the trap of not knowing things, and then rather than asking questions, Iíd tune out. By the end of any given lecture, Iíd have learned absolutely nothing, and it all could have been prevented by something as simple as ďcould you say that part again?Ē. Itís always better to ask a question then to fall into the infinite hole of cluelessness.”


“Trying to pay attention is important although it may be difficult at times. Taking notes can also help by forcing you to pay attention and listen to instruction.”


“Have your own notes out and add to them as the lecture goes on. Donít go on your phone or talk to your classmate next to you unless itís relevant.”


“Take notes! Any time there is any sort of instruction that is not already handed to you, make sure you write something down, even though it is going to be posted on Classroom. It makes things a lot easier to remember, and it makes it easier to find the notes you need later on.”


“Going over notes during class is helpful up until a certain point, when you canít focus anymore. When this point is reached, make sure you let Mr. Keller know because he may give you packets to work on. He understands that students cannot pay attention for hours on end, so he usually has packets prepared to give out during doubles. However, make sure that you try as hard as you can to pay attention in class because it is very useful.”


“Make sure you pay attention as best you can and interact as much as you can, because it will stay in your head better and make it easier to work through the complex topics.”


“Donít try to write down everything in Mr. Kellerís notes cause that will just take too long, but I think itís helpful to add some stuff that heís saying to your outline or copy down some examples so you get more familiar with the material.”


“In-class instruction was by far where I learned the most. I hate textbooks so I always asked questions repetitively even if I got annoying because I knew it would pay off. I have terrible retention of things I take notes on and I write awfully so my tactic was just to give all 100% of my attention to Mr. Keller during lecture without taking notes because he does that for us.”



How to best use study time outside of class


“Make sure that you allocate enough time to study, often times there are plenty of concepts to understand which can only be completely understood over the course of multiple hours of studying and problem solving.”


“You are going to have to study a lot, so try to break it up. Make sure you spend time on the problem set and make sure you know how to do every question.”


“Depending on your schedule, you might not have a ton of time on certain nights, which is why the way Mr. Keller sets up his classes is amazing. You know what homework you have and whatís due at least many days beforehand (because he always has everything planned out) and the most effective chemistry ďcrunchĒ session arenít too broken up and arenít too long so that requires planning.”


“Do the homework. If youíve already done it, there are plenty of problems outside of the ones assigned that you could try, but if you can get through the homework without too much difficulty, youíre good to go.”


“Try to revisit problem set problems to verify that you can do them. Review notes that you may have taken in class. Ask Mr. Keller questions!”


“Chunk your time, donít do it late at night, actively do the problem set, watch videos, etc.”


“Donít go back and reread the chapter, make use of the chapter outline that you make, itís much more concise. Also, if youíre having trouble solving a particular problem, there is likely an example problem in the reading, so try looking there before asking for help.”


“Doing the problem set is very useful to study for the quizzes. Each chapter in this class has a lot of information in it, so making sure that you know how to do all of the different problems is important. Also, looking at the learning targets on the class notes that Mr. Keller posts on google classroom is very helpful to see what you need to know. They act as an outline of the chapter and show everything that may or may not be on the quizzes, so try to learn how to do questions for each learning target within the chapters.”


“The most useful thing when it came to studying for me, was really reviewing the problem set and understanding the procedures of each problem, because thatís what the quizzes are based on. Also, make sure to review the notes, since the notes are the main points of each topics, and will definitely appear on the quizzes.”


“Just use all the time you can to study for chem, the more familiar you are with the material and the more problems you can do the better off youíll be for quizzes and tests. Iíve also found that printing off Mr. Kellerís notes was helpful for me.”


“Know what you don't know and work on that. Once you understand what you didn't know go back to work on the things you know and just make sure you understand most of it.”


“Do the problem set, it will make the quiz easier and expose your problem areas.”



Advice about Specific Chapters

Students were asked to give advice about three chapters that we studied. Not all chapters were chosen so this is not a complete list. The advice here reflects the students’ opinion that the material in the chapter was important and/or difficult.



Chapter 1 (Scientific notation, units, dimensional analysis, significant figures)


“This chapter is a very important introductory chapter to SIG FIGS and the basic of chemistry. It may seem easy, but it is important to try hard on this so other topics will come easier. Dimensional analysis is the setup for many calculations, this is very crucial to know.”


“Looking back at it, I donít think this chapter was really difficult. However, it felt really difficult because it was the first chapter going into AP chem and I wasnít really sure how to study yet. All of these topics were huge building blocks and were present through the entire year, so it was important to build good foundations on these topics. Make sure to put a huge emphasis on this chapter and learn the best studying methods, because it will show for future quizzes as well.”


“Learn sig figs right away and save yourself from losing points on every quiz!”


“Make sure to cancel out the units (literally cross them out)
I didnít figure out sig figs ever (Iím still guessing) so pay attention to the rules and plainly remember them because they have scientific meaning and will help you avoid losing arbitrary points on quizzes/tests/AP exam that I did.”



Chapter 2 (Atomic structure)


“Difference between cations and anions
Cats are positive
Anion sounds like ďantiĒ which is negative
Put avogadro's number into calculator and understand what it means/how to use it
Similar to a dozen in concept
Know the difference between groups and periods”


Chapter 2 (Nomenclature)


“On a separate sheet of paper, make a table summarizing how to name compounds and molecules. This chapter is an important building block to be able to understand other chapters quicker.”


“This chapter is very hard and itís a lot of memorization, so the best way to learn this is to study the rules and then just try to name a ton of different molecules. This chapter is important for the rest of the year because you will be expected to know this, and chemical formulas will not always be given to you.”


“This chapter was challenging because there were so many rules that you needed to follow. First, you needed to recognize what type of chemical substance it is (acid, ion, molecule, etc.) which was sometimes hard. You should be able to write a chemical formula from the name and vise versa. When studying, it is helpful to do as many as you can to practice because the more you do, the easier it will be. However, you will continue to use this chapter throughout the whole year so it is important to understand and remember.”


“This is difficult because there is a lot of information to remember and specific ways to do things. It would not be as difficult if this was later in the year because you start to figure out how to know this much information and make it useful. Take this chapter slow and work hard on understanding it, it's like a little practice chapter for later chapters to come with lots of information that you need to know to pass the quiz and AP Exam.”


“This chapter is initially the very difficult and confusing, but in the long run is incredibly important to even knowing what half the questions are saying. Especially focus on the weirdly named things and different types of acids.”


“There are many website that have practice quizzes about nomenclature and will help you a lot because this is a skill that you canít get better at without practicing. This chapter seems super hard and it is only because youíre at the start of the year and havenít gotten used to the whole chemical naming thing, youíll have it down sooner than you know it. Draw your own flow diagram on how to name molecules. Hint: Ionic, molecular, and acid are the three starting categories”



Chapter 3 (Stoichiometry, limiting reactant, basic reaction types)


“Just like in chapter 1, stoichiometry plays a huge part in chemistry and is present throughout the whole year so itís important to keep working on it. Limiting reactant was a little hard for me too, especially at this moment when I was still learning how to study. But, if you place an emphasis on learning it and everything else in the chapter I think you can get the hang of it and be able to build on it, since the things you learn in this chapter are present in other chapters as well.”

“Overall this chapter wasnít too difficult, but one concept I struggled with was limiting reactant. I was able to figure it out enough to get through the quiz and then I hoped it would just go away, but it never did. A lot of the concepts in this chapter are used continuously throughout the book so if you donít understand something then try to grasp it as best you can so itís easier when it comes back up later on.”


“I like to think of stoichiometry like baking (Mr. Keller doesnít agree) but every chemical equation is a recipe. If I had only 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of salt for a cake, sugar would be the limiting reactant because I need many more grams of sugar per cake. Reaction types seem straightforward, but make sure you cover all the different conditions and practice writing your own reactions (not just identifying them).”



Chapter 4 (Solution Stoichiometry, net ionic equations, titrations)


“Make sure to practice a lot of the equations. Being able to write net ionic equations comes in handy many times later in the year.”


“How to balance and create net ionic equations is a needed skill for the exam so this is important as well as predicting products.”


“This chapter contains information which is very important throughout the year. It is important that you either memorize most everything in this chapter or return to it in the future in order to not forget the information.”


“This was not terribly difficult but it was important and you need to know net ionic equations as the class continues on along with titrations because that just pops up everywhere you least expect it. If you find this chapter difficult specifically the titrations first go to chapter three about stoichiometry and do some extra work there then come back and try to work through some more problems. Then go to Mr. Keller because you probably think you know it but you really donít which is what I didnít do and almost failed the quiz for.”


“There is a lot to know in this chapter with the solubility guidelines and the different types of reactions. I really struggled with titrations. Do a lot of practice problems on the different reactions and know the trends. Also make sure you know how to do titration calculations because that seemed to be a big thing on the ap exam.”


“Titrations and ionic equations were the hardest for me. Stoichiometry is almost a review in this chapter so donít focus too much on it, but titrations were all over the exam.”


“This chapter is extremely important for everything else you will learn in this class. It is also the chapter that I found most difficult, so make sure you spend the time to understand all the concepts.”


“While writing net ionic equations, just write out the normal reaction with what dissociates (is soluble) and cross out things that are on both sides of the equation. Thereís no need to rush and do it all in your head. Titrations are just fancy limiting reactant problems donít get freaked out, just enjoy the color changes and donít forget basic arithmetic”



Chapter 5 (Thermochemistry, calorimetry, enthalpy of formation)


“Make sure you understand the difference between endothermic and exothermic processes (be able to identify which is which from change and enthalpy). Also know that when calculating the change in any value, always take the result minus the initial value (reactants minus products in this case). This chapter was really important for the exam, and at least one question on the open response and several on the multiple choice of the AP exam are pretty much guaranteed.”


“There are a lot of FRQ questions using q=mc?t, understand that equations and its units.”


“This is where it gets a little conceptual just donít get hung up on the math. Make sure you understand how to do the math first, and then slowly the conceptual aspect with start making sense. This chapter is a bit math-heavy in that you have to make several calculations but remember the most important equation can be remembered by MCAT: q=mCΔT. Enthalpies of formation for elements in their natural state is 0!”



Chapter 10 (Gases, kinetic molecular theory)


“Really understand and know how to explain the kinetic molecular theory (it is brought up so much in the FRQ of the exam). Know the two reasons/conditions that the ideal gas law doesnít work. Become best friends with PIVNERT ⇒ PV=nRT. It can be used for so many things and is always on the exam”



Chapter 6 (Electromagnetic spectrum, electron configuration)


“This is a very important chapter! It is almost certain that there will be a question on the exam that just asks you to give the electron configuration. The best way to learn this is to learn the patterns within the periodic table, since just trying to memorize which orbital comes first will be ineffective.”


“Make sure you memorize all the equations for this chapter, especially how to calculate delta E. Overall though, this chapter wasnít the most important.”


“Writing out an electron configuration makes no sense for the first few classes and everyone will have that ďclickingĒ moment when they realize how to do it (itís a relatively simple skill). Remember the basic benchmarks for the EMG spectrum for visible light. Store Planck's constant in your calculator and the speed of light, too”



Chapter 7 (Periodic trends, effective nuc. charge, ionization energy)


“Reflecting back after the exam, I wish I had spent a bit more time looking at why the trends work. Understanding the trends is more important than just memorizing because it makes future situations on tests and the AP exam more intuitive rather than just pure memory. Often, there is also the dreaded ďExplainĒ at the end of these problems, so understanding why each trend exists is crucial to a handful of problems on the exam.”


“This chapter introduces plenty of new concepts which must be understood as well as very important information that you have to memorize. Make sure that you have an understanding of every part of this chapter before continuing on.”


“Understand the periodic trends, donít just try to memorize them.This is a pretty important chapter because you need to know the periodic trends in many future chapters.”


“Thoroughly understand Zeff because it underlies all chemical reactions all other concepts such as ionization energy, polarizability, ionic radius.”



Chapter 8 (Lattice energy, Lewis structures, bond enthalpies)


“Lattice energy is just an extension of ionization energy but now with two different atoms so just apply old knowledge so the new similar situation. Bond enthalpies make logical sense, just understand what makes for higher bond enthalpies (smaller distance and higher charges)”



Chapter 9 (Molecular shapes, hybrid orbitals, sigma and pi bonds)


“This chapter isnít particularly difficult, itís just really daunting to look at. There are a lot of pictures that are just really overwhelming and donít make much sense. Just pay attention in class and ask questions as necessary and it should come pretty easily. This sees pretty limited application on the exam, perhaps asking about the hybridization of one bond in the open response and maybe one or two questions on the chapter in the multiple choice.”


“There are quizlets focused on molecular shapes. These can be helpful in remembering which structures go with which number of electron domains. This chapter is not a major one.”


“The molecular shapes arenít that hard once you memorize the different geometries and practice with them. Study sigma and pi bonds (especially pi bonds). There is a helpful model in the book and Mr. K is really good at explaining it. So make sure you know how pi bonds work and where they donít work. For some reason it was a hard concept for me to understand.”


“Stare at those models and the table worksheet Mr. Keller gives you and you will eventually understand the order of molecular shapes. Hybrid orbitals are one of those things you just memorize. My trick is that the ďnumberĒ of letters is equal to the number of electron domains so an atom with 3 electron domains will have sp2 hybrid orbitals (one ďsĒ and two ďpĒ) this will make sense at some point.”



Chapter 11 (Intermolecular forces and phases of matter)


“This is another topic that will definitely come up on the exam, usually in an FRQ, so make sure you study how to compare the strengths of the intermolecular forces. Look at Figure 11.14 on page 453 and study that!”


“Make sure that you understand this chapter because IMFs play a big role in a lot of things and the following chapters with solutions and things talk about them a lot. I didnít prepare well enough for this quiz and for me it wasnít an easy one to just guess on so make sure you understand the difference of all the different forces discussed in this chapter. Itís usually a part of an FRQ for the exam to so itís important that you understand it.”


“Understand the varying strengths of all IMFS and how they related to viscosity and other physical properties and be able to predict how stronger/weaker IMFs will affect a solid/liquid. Intermolecular forces is the other topic that the exam heavily covers so understand why/how IMFs impact substances”



Chapter 13 (Solutions, solubility, colligative properties)


“Intermolecular interactions are important to understand and memorize. This information comes up often later and is important not to mix up.”


“Remember back in chapter two when I mentioned how you would have to retain lots of knowledge and that chapter though difficult is a very useful practice for later chapters to come. Well here's an example of one of those chapters. I found this one difficult not because it was difficult but because I was not as proficient in retaining large quantities of information and making them useful. Study this it's important and comes up constantly especially the solubility rules those come up later in chapter 19-20 and on the AP Exam.”


“Know the difference between molarity and molality and how to convert from different concentration units to others Raoultís Law: Psolution = XsolventPsolvent. Partial pressure exerted by solvent vapor above the solution, Psolution; Mole fraction of the solvent, Xsolvent; Vapor pressure of the pure solvent, Psolvento Will probably be tested on.”



Chapter 14 (Kinetics, reaction rates, reaction mechanisms)


“This chapter is not nearly as hard as other people say. Paying attention to the lab helps in understanding the chapter.”


“This chapter was challenging because there was so much to memorize. There were a lot of equations for zero, first, and second order reactions that were all different, so you needed to memorize them all. One thing that was very helpful was continually writing down the equations to practice. If you keep writing them, it is more likely to stick in your head.”


“Donít let this chapter scare you. There is a lot of information in it and a lot of things you need to know. I think that I probably spent the most time studying for this quiz than any other chapter because there are a lot of equations and details that you need to memorize. But if you practice with them a lot and remember them as best you can then it should be fine.”


“This unit is notorious for being the ďhardest chem unit everĒ but my class found this relatively easy. This was most likely because we studied very hard, asked a lot of questions, and came in for help like we shouldíve been doing. Let this be a lesson that you can ace any chem quiz if you have the motivation. Mathy unit but donít forget to understand the qualitative aspects of the chapter.”



Chapter 15 (Equilibrium basics)


“Equilibrium is actually one of the coolest units because it predicts the extent at which a reaction with go mathematically. Understand a generic equilibrium expression and what the equilibrium constant means and how you can predict things with it but also calculate it when given the appropriate information.”



Chapter 16 (Acid/Base equilibria)


“I remember this chapter being very hard for me to understand because the calculations went along with conceptual things. I remember it being on the AP exam and being a foundation for further calculations and applications, so itís important to get a foundation on acid base reactions, conjugates, and other calculations.”


“This chapter was pretty challenging and still confusing to this day. This chapter needs a lot of time and effort. If you know how to do equilibrium problems that gives you a good base for this chapter (haha see what I did there because acids and BASES). Anyway, you should learn about weak and strong bases and how that changes how you do these problems. Like any other chapter practice makes perfect (not perfect but solid).”


“Maybe the hardest chapter? Review acids and bases before starting this it will help a lot. This chapter combines two previous topics that are difficult alone, so having those notes out may help a bit.”


“MAKE A TABLE: tables are your best friends. Understand the assumption that Mr. keller makes and when you can use it and why (when x-0.2 = x). Put water dissociation constant into calculator. Be bestfriends with log button on your calculator so that you can calculate pH and pOH easily.”



Chapter 17 (Buffers, pH calc in titrations, solubility product)


“This chapter, along with 15 and 16, is one that was heavily tested on the AP exam. Because it is so late in the curriculum and we had to cram it in, it was definitely hard to grasp. One thing that was helpful was going in during advisory and asking any questions that you may have. I had so many questions about this chapter, especially buffers, and getting them answered was very helpful. I also watched some youtube videos that helped me understand the chapter which was useful. It is important to understand this chapter because the majority of the questions on the AP exam were about it, so make sure that you get as much help as you can get!”


“Equations in this one are easily confused with rate stuff and I recommend doing lots of practice problems”


“Be able to perform pH calculations at all four points in a titration (before any titrant, before equivalence, at equivalence, and past equivalence). Solubility products are easy mathematically but understand what they qualitatively mean. When in doubt, table it out: make a titration table.”



Chapter 19 (Thermodynamics)


“AGAHTAS: pneumonic for ΔG=ΔH-TΔS (on reference sheet but is nice to know). Entropy is actually an incredibly easy mathematical property and not the voodoo magic the book portrays it as so just listen to Mr. Kellerís description and demonstration.”



Chapter 20 (Electrochemistry)


“Most of the equations in this chapter are on the AP exam reference sheet so just know how to perform the calculations and youíll do fine with this topic. The textbook gets too in-depth about the types of batteries, donít get freaked out itís not necessary.”

Last updated: Jun 11, 2019        Home