It can be difficult to keep your notes organized throughout the school year, especially in a class that covers so much content. This article will give you links to notes on every topic included in the AP Chemistry curriculum. If you're missing some of your notes, or if you just want a more structured overview of what you need to know for the exam, you've come to the right place! I'll also give you some study tips so that you can use both these notes and the notes you took throughout the year to your best advantage.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
How to Use These AP Chemistry Notes
The notes in this article can be used to study smaller portions of the curriculum or to review for the final AP Chemistry exam. As of the 2019 updates, there are nine units that organize all the concepts in the course, so I've categorized these notes according to that framework. Topics should be listed in roughly the same order as you learned them in class.
These notes will provide a ton of background information, but keep in mind that AP Chemistry is less about memorization of facts and more about the ability to apply your knowledge to a variety of experimental scenarios. Reading notes can only get you so far. Practice problems are essential (a point that I will emphasize again later in this article).
Take a diagnostic test before you dive into these notes if you plan on using them to review for the full AP test. Based on your results, you can see which areas need the most improvement, and then you can focus on the notes that are most relevant.
AP Chemistry Notes
These notes come from several sources. Some of are in-depth, others give a broad overview. Some focus more on notes, others on working through practice questions. The goal is to give you a comprehensive guide of what you need to know for AP Chemistry.
Note that, because AP Chemistry's curricula was recently updated in 2019, most online notes haven't been updated yet, which is why some topics don't have corresponding notes and some notes cover multiple topics.
At the end, I've also included a link to a document created by a high school AP Chemistry teacher that goes through all of the concepts in one place.
Unit 1: Atomic Structure and Properties
- Moles and molar mass
- Mass spectroscopy of elements
- Elemental composition of pure substances
- Composition of mixtures
- Atomic structure and electron configuration
- Photoelectron spectroscopy
- Periodic trends
- Valence electrons and ionic compounds
Unit 2: Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties
- Types of chemical bonds
- Intramolecular force and potential energy
- Structure of ionic solids
- Structure of metals and alloys
- Lewis diagrams
- Resonance and formal charge
- VSEPR and bond hybridization
Unit 3: Intermolecular Forces and Properties
- Intermolecular forces
- Properties of solids
- Solids, liquids, and gases
- Ideal gas law
- Kinetic molecular theory
- Deviation from ideal gas law
- Solutions and mixtures
- Representations of solutions
- Separation of solutions and mixtures chromatography
- Spectroscopy and the electromagnetic spectrum
- Photoelectric effect
- Beer-Lambert Law
Unit 4: Chemical Reactions
- Introduction for reactions
- Net ionic equations
- Representations of reactions
- Physical and chemical changes
- Introduction to titration
- Types of chemical reactions
- Introduction to acid-base reactions
- Oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions
Unit 5: Kinetics
- Reaction rates
- Introduction to rate law
- Concentration changes over time
- Elementary reactions
- Collision model
- Reaction energy profile
- Introduction to reaction mechanisms
- Reaction mechanism and rate law
- Steady-state approximation
- Multistep reaction energy profile
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Unit 6: Thermodynamics
- Endothermic and exothermic processes
- Energy diagrams
- Heat transfer and thermal equilibrium
- Heat capacity and calorimetry
- Energy of phase changes
- Introduction of enthalpy of reaction
- Bond enthalpies
- Enthalpy of formation
- Hess's Law
Unit 7: Equilibrium
- Introduction to equilibrium
- Direction of reversible reactions
- Reaction quotient and equilibrium constant
- Calculating the equilibrium constant
- Magnitude of the equilibrium constant
- Properties of the equilibrium constant
- Calculating the equilibrium concentrations
- Representations of equilibrium
- Introduction to Le Chatelier's Principle
- Reaction quotient and Le Chatelier's Principle
- Introduction to solubility equilibria
- Common-ion effect
- pH and solubility
- Free energy of dissolution
Unit 8: Acids and Bases
- Introduction to acids and bases
- pH and pOH of strong acids and bases
- Weak acid and base equilibria
- Acid-base reactions and buffers
- Acid-base titrations
- Molecular structures of acids and bases
- pH and pKa
- Properties of buffers
- Henderson-Hasselbalch equation
- Buffer capacity
Unit 9: Applications of Thermodynamics
- Introduction to entropy
- Absolute entropy and entropy change
- Gibbs Free Energy and thermodynamic favorability
- Thermodynamic and kinetic control
- Free energy and equilibrium
- Coupled reactions
- Galvanic (Voltaic) and electrolytic cells
- Cell potential and free energy
- Cell potential under nonstandard conditions
- Electrolysis and Faraday's Law
This document was created by an AP Chemistry teacher. It's sort of like a (long) crib sheet with all the concepts and formulas you need to know in one place! If you want a quick holistic review without going through every individual notes page listed above, you can take a look at this document to remind yourself of the most important concepts for each unit.
Ah, the bliss of knowledge. Also, this guy should probably get to the ER immediately. This is what happens when you cram, everyone.
Study Strategies for AP Chemistry Notes
If you want to use these notes to your full advantage, you shouldn't just read them all and consider yourself prepared. For chemistry, you need to dig deeper to understand the material fully. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Tip 1: Start at the Beginning
If you're studying for chemistry, you should work your way through concepts in the order of when they show up in the curriculum. You need to master the basics first, or more advanced problems will look like complete gibberish to you. If there are any topics in Big Idea 1 that you don't feel comfortable with, start your studying with those. Everything else in the course builds on the concepts you learned in the first couple of months!
Tip 2: Always Follow Up With Practice Problems
Every time you read a set of notes, do a few practice problems to make sure you've absorbed the information. Reading through these notes is a waste of time if they don't provide you with the background information and skills you need to solve relevant problems. If you find that you're having trouble with practice problems after you read through notes, this should be a red flag that you need to modify your study strategy.
Tip 3: Supplement With Other Resources
Don't forget about the notes you took in class, handouts your teacher gave to you, and any other resources you've accumulated throughout the year. It's worthwhile to shop around and see whether certain explanations of concepts resonate more than others. You might decide that videos explaining concepts are more useful to you than notes, or you may choose to buy a review book that provides more guidance in planning out your studying.
Tip 4: Don't Cram!
It's unwise to cram for AP Chemistry. You need to do plenty of practice problems to feel comfortable with the material, and, if you cram, you won't be able to spend enough time on this. Don't pull out your notes the day before the exam and expect to learn everything in one marathon study session. You won't retain the information, and you'll be exhausted for the test.
Cramming is a lot like trying to hold a huge volume of water back with a really flimsy dam. It's not gonna work out well.
The notes in this article should help you review all the essential concepts you need to know for the AP Chemistry exam. Make sure you supplement your review with practice tests so you can assess your progress and see where your main strengths and weaknesses lie. Also, keep in mind the tips I went through in the last section:
- Start at the beginning of the course
- Follow up your studying with practice problems
- Supplement these notes with other resources
- Avoid cramming
Keep this article on hand so that you can refer to the notes whenever you want to review specific concepts and/or start your end-of-year cumulative review!
Notes are all well and good, but when do you actually need to start using them to review for the test? Find out how early you should start studying for AP exams if you're aiming for a great score.
Have you planned out your schedule for the rest of your time in high school yet? If not, this guide will help you decide which AP classes to take in the future!
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.