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

The following FAQs address questions about the Core Chemistry Course planned for 2018-2019.

Please scroll down for questions about the 2018-2019 AP Option.

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 website
  • review and rework missed problems

My experience is that this will take you 2-3 hours to finish properly as preparation or response for each chat. 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, then carry out your lab, analyze your data, discuss any issues, repeat your labwork if needed, and write up your report.

So each week, you should plan to spend 4 hours in class, 5 hours in preparation, 1 hour in review and testing, and 1 hours in lab execution or reporting, or about 10 hours a week. A normal high school course requires a minimum of 4 hours of class time, 1-2 hours of lab time, and 4 hours of homework.

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 to help you prepare for the SAT II Chemistry Exam, and so cover material in ways that may not be explicity stated in the text. 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, you should aim to get at least 85% regularly on the online quizzes.

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 or not you get lab credit for the course. Note that most colleges expect you to take chemistry as a lab credit course; if you do not receive lab credit, they may discount the rest of your work in the course, even if it is of high quality.

The grading scheme provides the possibility that 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 a high school level competence in chemistry or any other science subject for college admission or placement is to take the SAT II or ACT examination.

6. How have other students done on the SAT and ACT 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 ACT scores in the high 20s and 30s.

7. Do I have to attend all both Core Course sessions each week?

Yes. Because of the material we need to cover, the class must meet twice a week. All students must attend all discussions or make alternate arrangements to submit homework assigned.

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.

AP Option Expectations

AP1. How much additional work is required for the AP option?

Students taking the AP Option will have an additional chat session (90 minutes), additional homework and quizzes to cover material not emphasized in the Core Course, and additional lab work, for a total of 4-6 hours a week.

AP2. How do labs differ from the Core Course labs?

The ten Core Course labs are designed to be done with minimal equipment. The eighteen required AP labs are designed to meet AP standards for college-level labs and require much more thought, as well as more investment in equipment and time.

AP3. How does AP credit differ from regular high school credit?

AP credit can be granted only when a course meets AP review board standards which require the material be taught at a first-year college level. The Scholars Online Chemistry Course (Core + AP Option) taken together has been formally reviewed by the College Board and meets all the syllabus requirements, so Scholars Online is authorized to grant AP credit for students who successfully complete the combined course. This is especially important in science courses, where simply scoring well on the AP examination is often not considered sufficient evidence of college-level laboratory skills. Students are more likely to receive college credit and be allowed to take advanced science courses as freshman if they have both scored well on the AP exam and successfuly completed an AP course with its college level lab component.

AP4. What happens if I attempt the AP option but don't complete all the required lab work and activities for AP credit?

If you complete more than half the work required for the AP option at a satisfactory level, but do not complete the minimum work required for AP credit, you will receive honors credit for the combined course in recognition of your addtional work.