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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Chemistry Exam [Updated for AP 2024]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 07 Dec 2023


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  • The AP Chemistry course is organized into 9 topics: Atomic Structure and Properties, Chemical Bonding, Stoichiometry, Thermodynamics, Kinetics, Equilibrium, Acids and Bases, Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis
  • The AP Chemistry exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (60 questions, 1 hour 30 minutes) and free-response includes 2 tasks which is of 12 hours 
  • The mean score for the AP Chemistry exam in 2022 was 2.73 out of 5. This is slightly higher than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022, which was 2.47.
  • The pass rate of the AP Chemistry Exam for 2022 was 54.0%. This is higher than the pass rate for AP Physics 1, but lower than the pass rate for AP overall.
  • With AP Chemistry, some majors that you could choose from include chemistry, biology, and engineering. Some career pathways you could pursue include chemist, biologist, and engineer.

According to the class alumnae survey, it has a difficulty rating of 7.3 out of 10. And the pass rate of the 2022 AP Chemistry Exam was 54% making it difficult to ace with self-study.

In this guide, we will discuss the AP Chemistry exam in detail. We’ll provide you with information on the exam structure, scoring, and some tips to score good marks in the exam.

What is the format of the AP Chemistry exam?

The AP Chemistry exam is divided into two main sections: multiple-choice questions and free-response questions. The multiple-choice section contains 60 questions, and the free-response section has seven questions.

SectionNo.of questionsWeightage
Multiple-choice questions60 (worth 1 point for every correct answer)50%
Free-response questions7 questions 3 long-form (worth 10 points each)and4 short-form (worth 4 points each)50% 
AP Chemistry exam format

Source: College Board

The scoring breakdown for the AP Chemistry exam is as follows: the multiple-choice section is worth 50% of the total exam score, while the free-response section is worth 50% of the total exam score. The total exam score ranges from 1 to 5, with a score of 3 or higher considered passing.

How long is the AP Chemistry exam?

The total time for the AP Chemistry exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes approximately. The multiple-choice section is 90 minutes long, and the free-response section is 105 minutes long. There is also a 10-minute break between the two sections.

Students are expected to answer each multiple-choice question in approximately 45 seconds. For the free-response questions, students are expected to spend about 15 minutes on the long-form questions and about 7.5 minutes on the short-form questions.

How many questions does the AP Chemistry exam have?

The AP Chemistry Exam has a total of 67 questions. The exam is divided into two sections: Multiple-Choice and Free-Response. The Multiple-Choice Section contains 60 questions, and the Free-Response Section contains seven questions.

The Multiple-Choice Section accounts for 50% of the total exam score, and it consists of questions that cover a broad range of chemistry topics, such as stoichiometry, thermodynamics, kinetics, and equilibrium.

The Free-Response Section accounts for the other 50% of the total exam score, and it consists of seven questions that are divided into two categories: Short Answer and Long Answer. The short answer questions ask students to provide brief explanations or calculations, while the long answer questions require more detailed responses and may involve experimental data or graphical analysis.

The College Board provides the following breakdown of the types and number of questions in the Free-Response Section:

  • 4 Short Answer Questions (30% of Free-Response Section score)
  • 3 Long Answer Questions (70% of Free-Response Section score)

In general, the AP Chemistry Exam is made to evaluate students’ comprehension of basic chemistry principles, their capacity to use those principles to solve problems, and their capacity to effectively articulate their thoughts.

Topic for AP Chemistry Exam

UnitWhat’s includedWeight in Exam
Unit 1: Atomic Structure and Properties

You’ll learn about the composition of atoms and ways scientists measure and categorize these molecular building blocks.
–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

You’ll discover the range of chemical bonds and how their structure can affect the properties of the molecules created.
–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

You’ll explore how atoms come together to create solids, liquids, and gases, and how subatomic forces govern the properties of everything around you.
– Intermolecular forces
– Solids, liquids, and gases
– Kinetic molecular theory
– Solutions and mixtures
– Photoelectric effect
Unit 4: Chemical Reactions

You’ll learn how to differentiate physical and chemical processes, and how to measure and express chemical reactions via chemical equations.
– Introduction to reactions
– Net ionic equations
– Representations of reactions
– Physical and chemical changes
– Stoichiometry
Unit 5: Kinetics

You’ll explore various methods to observe the changes that occur during a chemical reaction and the effects of a series of reactions.
– Reaction rate
– Introduction to rate law
– Elementary reactions
– Collision model
– Introduction to reaction mechanisms
– Multistep reaction energy profile
– Catalysis
Unit 6: Thermodynamics

You’ll learn about energy changes in chemical reactions and how a transfer of energy can change a substance’s physical qualities.
– Endothermic and exothermic processes
– Heat transfer and thermal equilibrium
– Heat capacity and calorimetry
– Energy of phase changes
– Introduction to enthalpy of reaction
– Enthalpy of formation
– Hess’s law
Unit 7: Equilibrium

You’ll chart how chemical reactions change over time, what causes substances to reach equilibrium, and how systems react when that equilibrium is disturbed.
– Introduction to equilibrium
– Calculating the equilibrium constant
– Calculating equilibrium concentrations
– Introduction to Le Châtelier’s principle
– Introduction to solubility equilibria
– pH and solubility
– Free energy of dissolution
Unit 8: Acids and Bases

You’ll learn more about pH, the qualities and properties of acids and bases, and how they interact in chemical reactions.
– Introduction to acids and bases
– pH and pOH of strong acids and bases
– Acid-base reactions and buffers
– Molecular structure of acids and bases
– pH and pKa
– Properties of buffers
Unit 9: Applications of Thermodynamics

You’ll be introduced to the concept of “thermodynamic favorability” for reactions, meaning how likely they are to occur given energy changes and environmental factors.
– Introduction to entropy
– Gibbs free energy and thermodynamic favorability
– Thermodynamic and kinetic control
– Free energy and equilibrium
– Galvanic (voltaic) and electrolyte cells
– Electrolysis and Faraday’s law
The topic for AP Chemistry

How is the AP Chemistry exam scored?

The AP Chemistry Exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. The exam is scored based on a combination of multiple-choice and free-response questions, with each section accounting for 50% of the total score.

For the Multiple-Choice Section, each correct answer earns one point, and there is no penalty for incorrect answers or unanswered questions. The raw score for the Multiple-Choice Section is then converted to a scaled score, which ranges from 0 to 50.

For the Free-Response Section, each question is scored on a 0 to 10 scale based on a rubric that takes into account the content, reasoning, and communication of the response. The scores for each question are then weighted according to the percentage of the Free-Response Section that the question accounts for. The scores for all seven Free-Response questions are then summed and converted to a scaled score, which ranges from 0 to 50.

The scaled scores for the Multiple-Choice and Free-Response Sections are then added together to give the total exam score, which ranges from 0 to 100. The College Board sets the minimum score required to earn each AP grade as follows:

  • 5: Extremely well qualified
  • 4: Well qualified
  • 3: Qualified
  • 2: Possibly qualified
  • 1: No recommendation

Colleges and universities use AP scores in a variety of ways, such as granting credit or placement, determining eligibility for certain programs, or evaluating a student’s academic strengths. The policies regarding AP credit and placement vary by institution, so students should check with individual colleges and universities to understand how their scores will be used.

Overall, the AP Chemistry Exam provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of fundamental chemistry concepts and earn college credit or placement in advanced courses.

AP Chemistry Exam Guide
AP Chemistry Exam Guide 2024

When is the AP Chemistry exam in 2024?

The AP Chemistry exam for 2024 will be held on Monday, May 6 2024 12:00 pm local time.

AP exams are held in the month of May over two weeks. For 2024, the exams will be held between May 1-5 and May 8-12. For the most recent information on exam dates and registration deadlines, students can check with their institution or the College Board website.

Is AP Chemistry hard?

Is AP Chemistry hard? Yes, AP Chemistry has consistently been ranked as one of the hardest AP classes.

According to a survey done, class alumnae gave AP Chemistry a rating of 7.3/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 4th most difficult AP course (while AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, AP English Literature, and AP Physics C Mechanics being the top three).

In 2022, AP Chemistry had a pass rate of 54% which is slightly lower than other AP courses. If you have a strong base in Chemistry and Algebra 2, then AP Chemistry class might seem a little less intimidating.

Despite being one of the hardest AP classes, AP Chemistry was still opted by 124,780 students in 2022 as it is one of the preferred AP courses of many competitive colleges/universities.

The difficulty of AP Chemistry can be attributed to several factors, including the depth and degree of the course content, and the rigorous lab work. Additionally, the course is designed to prepare students for a college-level chemistry course, which can be significantly more challenging than high school chemistry.

How to study for the AP Chemistry exam?

Preparing for the AP Chemistry exam requires a combination of a thorough review of course materials, targeted practice, and effective time management. Here are some tips and strategies for studying for the exam:

  1. Review course materials: Begin by reviewing your class notes, textbook chapters, and other course materials. Create a study guide that includes key concepts, equations, and vocabulary.
  2. Practice problems: Practice solving multiple-choice and free-response questions from previous AP Chemistry exams. This will help you identify areas where you need more practice and build your problem-solving skills.
  3. Attend review sessions: Attend review sessions hosted by your teacher, classmates, or outside organizations. These sessions can provide additional instruction and practice opportunities.
  4. Use books and resources: Books and online resources can provide additional practice questions, explanations, and study guides. Some popular review books for AP Chemistry include “5 Steps to a 5” and “Barron’s AP Chemistry.”
  5. Manage your time: Create a study schedule that includes dedicated time for reviewing course materials, practicing problems, and taking practice exams. Stick to your schedule and avoid procrastination.
  6. Focus on challenging topics: Identify topics that you find challenging and spend extra time reviewing those areas. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or classmates for help if you need it.
  7. Take practice exams: Take AP Chemistry practice test under timed conditions to simulate the real exam. This will help you build stamina and identify areas where you need more practice.
  8. Stay organized: Keep track of your study materials, practice exams, and notes in an organized manner. This will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, preparing for the AP Chemistry exam requires dedication, hard work, and effective time management.

When selecting study materials, it’s important to choose resources that align with the topics and skills covered on the AP Chemistry Exam. It’s also helpful to choose materials that match your learning style and preferences. By using a combination of these study materials and strategies, you can prepare for the exam and improve your chances of success.

How can Wiingy help with AP Chemistry exam prep?

In 2022, only 12.5% of the 124,780 students who took the AP Chemistry exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP Chemistry tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP Chemistry Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test!


In conclusion, the AP Chemistry course exam presents a significant challenge for students, but with the right mindset and preparation, success is within reach. By tackling topics such as atomic structure, chemical reactions, and laboratory techniques, students can develop a deep understanding of the fundamental principles of chemistry.

AP Chemistry is widely recognized as one of the most challenging AP courses, with a difficulty rating of 7.3/10 according to class alumnae. It ranks among the top four most difficult AP courses, alongside AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, AP English Literature, and AP Physics C Mechanics. The pass rate was 54% in 2022 compared to the AP average of 60%.

The AP Chemistry exam covers both multiple-choice and free-response questions that test students’ knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. It is essential to engage in thorough exam practice, utilize study resources, and seek guidance from teachers or tutors to enhance performance and confidence.

Effective time management and organization are also important for successful preparation. By following these tips and strategies, students can improve their chances of success on the AP chemistry exam and earn college credit for their hard work.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it possible to self-study AP Chemistry?

Yes, it is possible to self-study for AP Chemistry but not recommended. AP Chemistry is considered to be one of the hardest AP courses. The pass rate of this exam for 2022 was 12.50%.

Does AP chemistry have a lot of math?

Yes, AP Chemistry does involve a significant amount of math. In addition to basic arithmetic, students must be comfortable working with algebra, geometry, and calculus concepts in order to succeed in the course.

What day is the AP Chem exam 2023?

AP Chem exam for 2023 will be held on Monday, May 1 2023 at 12:00 pm local time.

Which is the most important unit in AP chemistry?

While all units are important, the College Board generally places more emphasis on Units 3-6, which cover intermolecular forces, chemical reactions, kinetics, and thermodynamics. These topics form the foundation of many other areas in chemistry and are important for understanding the behavior of matter and the changes that occur in chemical reactions.

When should I start studying for the AP chemistry exam?

It is recommended that students should start studying for the AP Chemistry exam at least 3- 4 months in advance. If you are taking the course as a year-long course, you should start reviewing materials and practicing problems throughout the school year. If you are taking the course as a self-study or summer course, you should aim to start studying several months before the exam date.


  1. https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/ap-chemistry-exam
  2. https://blog.prepscholar.com/ap-chemistry-exam
  3. https://collegeprep.uworld.com/ap-chemistry/exam-format/
  4. https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-chemistry/exam

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Priyanshi Agrawal

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