Chemistry AP

Chat times for 2017-2018
10:30am-noon ET/7:30am-9:00am PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

Frequently Asked Questions about this course

1. What should a student know before taking this course?

You should have completed a junior high school level course in physical science that covers the description of atomic structure (electrons, protons, neutrons), changes of state from solid to liquid to gas, heat energy, and basics of chemical reactions (reactants in, products out). We cover all of these topics in detail, and students have an easier time if they have been exposed to the basic concepts before starting my course. If you have taken the Scholars Online Natural Science course (both years), the summer Chemistry of the Candle Course, or a full year Physical Science component of a comprehensive junior high school science curriculum, you should be prepared to hand the chemistry concepts.

2. What level of mathematics is required?

  • You should have completed a first year algebra course and a geometry course or their equivalent, and be taking a second year algebra course. You should be able to factor algebraic expressions and be able to solve the quadratic equation. For example, you should be able to rearrange the equation ax2 + bx + c = 0 for x in terms of a, b, and c (or at least have the solution memorized!) You should be able to work with exponents; it is an advantage to already understand how logarithms work, but we will cover those in class anyway.
  • You should understand how to read a graph and a table of numerical data. Many of the exercises involve interpreting experimental data presented in table form.

  • Our textbook covers key chemistry analytic techniques as part of its chapter one introduction to the tools of modern chemistry. Wehn you get your copy, you may want to preview this and make note of any concepts or techniques you havent't encountered before, so that we can go over examples in chat.

3. How much preparation time is necessary?

This is hard to answer without knowing how fast you read. For each Monday and Wednesday chat meeting, you will need to

  • read10-20 pages of text, many of which will include examples of problem solving involving math that you will need to study carefully
  • watch one or more of the recommended videos (usually 5-10 minute shorts on a specific topic)
  • complete 5-8 homework exercises
  • prepare a homework exercise with explanations and post it to the course webset
  • review and rework missed problems

My experience is that this will take you 2-3 hours to finish properly. In addition, for each chapter (usually 1 every week), you will need to finish

  • a 10 question on-line quiz at the website (15-20 minutes)

Lab work will involve another 1-2 hours per week of your time, depending on what equipment you need to build or collect, and how many labs you plan to complete. You will need to prepare a lab proposal and present it in our Friday chat, then carry out your lab, analyze your data, discuss any issues, repeat your labwork if needed, and write up your report.

Our Friday chats may additionally involve preparation of an AP-type question for discussion.

So each week, you should plan to spend 4 hours in class, 4-6 hours in preparation, 1 hour in review and testing, and 2 hours in lab execution or reporting, or about 12 hours a week. A normal high school course requires a minimum of 4 hours of class time and 4 hours of homework. This course is intended to be a college-level introduction to chemistry, so it requires more effort on your part.

4. What is a passing score?

My examinations tend to be very thorough, since I am interested in assessing what you have actually learned and understand. The tests are written as though you were a college student (because that is the level of the material we cover), and so are more challenging that a high school chemistry test would be. Because of this, I will "normalize" your grade so that it maps to high-school level course expectations for a science taken by someone at your current grade level. Normalized scores follow standard interpretations: above 90% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% D (passing).. Scores in the past have ranged from just below 50% to above 95%. However, if you aim to take either the SAT II chemistry exam or the Advanced Placement exam, you should aim to get at least 85% regularly on the online quizzes.

Honors or AP credit will be granted on the bases of lab work completed. Note that you must complete either the minimum labs for Honors for any Lab credit. Colleges generally have a poor view of chemistry grades granted without lab credit, so although I will list you as passing if you satisfactorily complete the course without a minimum lab, you may find the college admission office will not give you credit for the course in determining your high school minimum requirements.

5. What kind of grade will I get?

I send email evaluations at the end of each semester that describe your performance on quizzes, homework, class participation, and the term examinations. A short summary of this report is included in your formal transcript "comments" section.

I send email evaluations at the end of each semester that describe your performance on quizzes, homework, class participation, and the term examination. A short summary of this report is included in your formal transcript "comments" section.

Your overall grade is generally a composite. The exact percentages vary from year to year depending but in general:

  • Exams are averaged and weighted to contribute 60% to your grade.
  • Homework is weighted as 20% of your grade.
  • Quiz averages are 10% of your grade.
  • Class participation is 10% of your grade.

Lab work is graded separately and determines whether you get Honors or AP credit for the course.

In other words, you could still do well in the course even with low examination scores if your weekly work shows that you are mastering the material at a steady pace. Failing to complete homework or take the quizzes seriously, however, will also knock your grade down a significant amount.

Because some government agencies, accrediting institutions, and scholarship committees require more standardized grades, I also issue a numerical score for your work, which is normalized so that it fits the grading scale used by most high schools in evaluating passing, above average, and exceptional work at the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Your transcript will include instructions on translating a numerical grade to a letter grade. Many Scholars Online students have been accepted to nationally-recognized, competative colleges and universities, and have received scholarships based on these evaluations.

However your scores are reported, the best way to establish your competence in chemistry or any other science subject for college admission or placement is to take the SAT II examination or AP exam.

6. How have other students done on the SATs or AP exams?

Most students in Scholars Online chemistry are upper division students with some experience in the sciences already, and are forming their post-high school education plans. Many of them take standardized tests, but since homeschooled students receive their scores directly from the testing agency, I do not know all the results for all of my students who have taken the chemistry exams. Some students have reported scores on the SAT II between 630 and 750, and AP scores of 3 and 4.

7. Do I have to attend all three sessions each week?

Yes. Because of the material we need to cover, the class must meet three times a week. All students must attend all discussions or make alternate arrangements to submit homework assigned. Friday meetings will be devoted to lab work in order to help students meet the high expectations of the most recent syllabus changes to the AP Chemistry program. AP exam preparation will be incorporated into the course, using homework assignments and quiz questions similar to those students will experience on the exam. Even if you do not plan to take the AP examination, this preparation will help you for college-level work.

If you have a conflict with the scheduled sessions, you will need to review your priorities and decide whether or not you can commit to the class. If your outside conflict is short term, I will work with you through the period, but you must plan to attend most of the year's sessions.

8. Will you be able to write me a letter of recommendation for my college (or secondary school) application?

    Yes, I do write letters of recommendation for students for high school or college admission or special programs. However, I cannot write such a letter on the basis of a few months\' work. I require that you finish a complete year of instruction with me first, so that I have a basis for making a evaluation that reflects your true strengths and weaknesses. If this is your first Scholars Online class and your senior year, I may not be able to write your letter. For more details, see my special Letters of Recommendation FAQ.