10 Top Tips to maximize your AP Chemistry Score

April 01, 2017

Maximizing AP Chemistry scores is not everyone’s goal (although I’m not at all sure why), but if it is, then you’d do well to bear a few of these pointers in mind before you take the AP Chemistry Exam.

10. READ the question, and then ANSWER the question! Yeah, sounds obvious I know, but the tendency for students to either answer a question that they imagined had been asked, or perhaps one that they wished had been asked, can really be quite strong.

9. Be conscious of time. Like most exams, the AP chemistry exam is not an open-ended exercise that allows you to casually stroll through the questions in a leisurely fashion without a care in the world. Time matters, and you must get to the final question in each section of the exam – it might be the easiest question on the whole test!

8. Practice answering REAL AP questions. The only way that you will ultimately be assessed on the AP Chemistry Exam is via the answers that you give to real AP questions – not your homework, not the answers to textbook questions, but real AP questions.

7. Know what’s NOT on the test! Your AP teacher may have a particular soft spot for phase diagrams, or quantum numbers, but these are examples of things that will not be tested on the AP chemistry exam. Maybe your teacher simply hasn’t taken the time to find out what can be examined on the test. Make sure you know what can and equally importantly what cannot be examined so that you focus and do not waste time.

6. Understand the logistics of the AP Chemistry Exam. It’s vital that you know what to expect, and how to approach the exam.

AP Chemistry Exam Logistics

5. Present your work neatly. There are zero points for neatness or presentation, however there is a very good reason to present your work in an organized and legible fashion. Graders are human. That means that at 8.00 PM, on the third day of slogging through x 1000 papers, the last thing that a grader wants to do is try to decipher your scrawl and scribble. They are likely to get frustrated at the effort that it is taking, and may not give you the benefit of the doubt – that’s just human nature.

4. Pay attention to units and significant figures. There is only one point on the whole of the free-response section of the Ap Chemistry Exam for significant figures so this is not a huge deal, but on the other hand, why not avoid losing that point? As a broad rule of thumb, record your answer to a numerical problem to the same number of significant figures as the weakest piece of data given in the question.

3. Remain calm! If you are confronted with an unusual, or what appears to be an unfamiliar situation, if you have been taught well, the likelihood is that you DO know the chemistry. Try to start the problem by maybe calculating the moles of something even if you are not sure why! It might start the process of you making progress. Also, take a look at the Equations & Constants sheet or the Periodic Table – maybe they can jog a memory. Write down something chemically sound and relevant, maybe it will score a point, but whatever you do, don’t panic. A loss of composure during the exam can create a cascading disaster throughout the rest of the test.

2. Get a review book. They help to condense large amounts of information into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption.

AP Chemistry Exam Crash Course Review Book

1. Consider taking a review course.  Perfect and hone your skills, and get more practice and expert advice on the AP Chemistry Exam.


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