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Self-studying AP Chemistry?

EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
I go to a small school that doesn't offer any AP classes, but I'm really interested in science and was thinking of self-studying for AP Chemistry to take the exam. I know a lot of people say it's too hard or that I need to take the class, but since I'm taking my school's version of accelerated Chemistry, I thought it could be possible. Any advice? I was thinking of getting a textbook and taking it to class so I could ask for advice from my teacher. Do you think it's possible if I start early? I can start right now during the summer if that's what it takes.

Replies to: Self-studying AP Chemistry?

  • ThatuserThatuser Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    While self-studying AP Chemistry is not recommended, if you are currently taking a chemistry class, you could ask the teacher if you could come in after school to perform some of the labs. (The AP Chemistry lab work is really important, and can show up on the MC and FRQ portions of the exam) If that is not an option for you, you can try going on this website, although the virtual labs are still no match for a physical laboratory.

    As for getting a textbook, I would recommend getting a copy of Zumdahl's AP Chemistry, although it might be a little pricy. It does, however, go extremely in-depth into many of the concepts tested on the AP exam.

    If cost is a concern, you could use Brown's Chemistry: The Central Science, although from the reviews I've heard of this book, Zumdahl's is better and more comprehensive.

    For a prep book, if you are doing a self-study, I would recommend Barron's, although from what I've heard, Princeton Review is enough to get a 5. Barron's is very comprehensive, and if you have time and read it cover to cover, you will definitely have all the information you need (with a bit of surplus) while PR is less comprehensive, but has very accurate practice tests, that reflect the nature of the exam (in my experience at least). Linked below is a copy of CliffNotes AP Chemistry. I personally didn't find this prep book useful, but it does have a section at the end which goes into detail about the different labs you will do in the course (along with lab calculations) which is very helpful for the FRQ section.

    I definitely think it's possible for you to self-study chem, but do ask your teacher if you can perform some of the labs after school. I wish you the best of luck, and happy studying!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @Thatuser Thanks so much for all your info!!! I think this is really going to help me. I will definitely ask my teacher about doing the labs after school. Personally, I'm actually excited to do them as they sound really interesting :) Again, thanks a lot for all your tips!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @Thatuser Also, if I could only do a couple of the labs after school, which ones would you recommend? As in, which ones are the most important in your opinion?
  • ThatuserThatuser Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    edited July 2015
    Hi! Below is a list of some of the labs that have shown up in the FRQ and MC sections of previous AP exams. I would recommend doing, or understanding the theory behind some of these labs, as if the past is any indicator, they might show up.

    Beer's Law Lab: Constructing a Concentration vs. Molar Absorption Graph

    Flame Lab: Understanding what color certain elements spark when put in the Bunsen burner flame

    Titration Lab: Titrate a strong base vs. strong acid using an indicator and construct a titration curve from obtained data

    Electroplating Lab: Masses are deposited using an electrochemical cell; understand Faraday's constant and its uses

    Gravimetric Determination: Mixing solutions of known volume and concentration to form a precipitate and dry and mass the precipitate. Compare obtained data with theoretical data from calculations.

    Calorimeter Lab: Adding a hot piece of metal to a calorimeter to determine heat absorbed and released within the system. (useful for specific heats)

    Finally, this lab doesn't really have a name, but just mixing various solutions, and predicting the results, then looking at the observed results and seeing if they match up. Although this isn't a defined lab, it can be pretty useful for the test, and as a way of confirming your solubility rules and ion color rules.

    I may be missing some labs, but those are the big ones that come to mind.

    If you want a bit more information on the labs that have come up on previous tests, I would visit this link: http://www.lifesmith.com/VHS Web/aplabsummary.pdf
    It shows the various labs that have shown up on FRQ questions in the past, and in what year they were tested. However, the topics vary from year to year, so there might be a lab that wasn't mentioned that they might choose to include. That would be really bad luck though. :(

    Good luck, and happy studying!

  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @Thatuser Thanks for all your help!!
  • MousematMousemat Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    edited July 2015

    I self-studied AP chem this year so it is definitely feasible - it took me about 3 months but I had other obligations as well (other self-studied subjects and school stuff); if it is your only self-studied subject then 1 month of hard work is easily enough.

    I began with watching all bozemanscience videos on youtube but I felt that it didn't have enough depth or practice material for the AP test. Subsequently, I purchased the Barron's AP Chemistry, severely overpreping me for the test. It had so much superfluous material that I was completely overwhelmed. The good news is Barron's is an unrealistic representation of the real exam. At this point, I bought the PR AP Chemistry book and breezed through it - the Barron's had covered basically all the material in the PR.

    In hindsight, Barron's was a huge waste of time for the goal of preping for the exam; PR and bozemanscience - heck even either one - preps well enough for the actual exam.

    Work hard and good luck! No worries!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @Mousemat Thanks so much for your tips! It's really nice to hear from other people who have also self-studied for AP Chemistry :) So you didn't get a textbook at all? I have the PDF version of Zumdahl's Chemistry (9th edition), but do you think I even need that? Because I will be starting now during the summer, do you think it's worth getting Barron's since I have time for the superfluous material? Again, thanks for all your help!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @Mousemat Also, what did you do about the labs? As Thatuser said above, it would be best to try to do some of the labs with my chemistry teacher after school or something, and, if not, to experience at least the virtual labs. Is that what you did?
  • balletlove97balletlove97 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Is there a specific reason why you want to self study it besides enjoying science? Personally, I would not self study AP Chemistry. I took the course this year and the amount of material and labs that you cover is insane. I don't think I could have done as well as I did on the exam without a strong teacher and classroom setting who/that pushed us past our limit. My chem homework took me at least two hours each night, but it was well worth it because I knew the material like the back of my hand.

    I would really advise against self studying this AP. Another thing about this course is that you really do have to love it to stick with it! It's really hard to stay motivated in this course/curriculum if you aren't passionate.

    However, as you can see others have accomplished the feat of self studying it, so if you do choose to, then go for it! Honestly, AP Chem has been my absolute favorite class and has made me want to major in chemistry. It is so fascinating and ugh words can't describe how this course changed my life! :D

    If you do choose to self study it, start ASAP! I would buy a Zumdahl book and study study study and do those practice problems. Buy Princeton, watch Bozeman, and buy any other prep books you can! Don't get discouraged if you don't understand a topic. Definitely see about doing labs after class with your teacher is possible. These labs were essential and really helped on the exam and for developing my analytical and critical thinking skills.

    If you have any questions about the content please don't hesitate to pm me! I love love love chemistry and am hoping I got that 5!

    I hope the beginning of my post did not discourage. It was just to set a realistic view from an AP chem survivor! :)

    Good luck! You got this!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @balletlove97 Thanks for your insight! Ya, self-studying for AP Chemistry seems like A LOT of work, but since I'm really passionate about science and want to pursue chemistry in college, I think I'm going to go for it :) But anyways, thanks again for your help and words of encouragement! I will definitely pm if I have any questions (if you don't mind)!
  • balletlove97balletlove97 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    @EkaterinaHN Yaaaas! I love finding other people who are as passionate about chemistry as I am! It's an amazing subject and AP Chem opens up so much knowledge to you, it's amazing!

    Also, make sure when you are using other resources to self study, make sure they align with the new-ish exam! It changed for the 2014 exam so be aware! No organic chem, colligative properties, and some other topics are on the exam anymore!

    Yes, please PM me anytime! I love love love talking about AP Chem! :D Let me know how it goes! I'm dying in anticipation for my score!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @balletlove97 Thanks!!! I'm so excited to start studying as I love chemistry (and the sciences in general), and I'm sure I'll have questions! I'm also super excited (and really nervous!) to get my AP scores tomorrow (I took psychology and both the English exams.) I'm sure you'll get a great score!
  • balletlove97balletlove97 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    @EkaterinaHN I'm sure you did great too! I took Lang, Chem, USH, and Calc AB! Ugh I'm literally ready to throw up. I NEED TO KNOWWW!!
  • balletlove97balletlove97 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    @EkaterinaHN Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I got a 5 on chem!!! :D Now you can be sure I will give you accurate help!! :) Haha I hope you scores came out great!
  • EkaterinaHNEkaterinaHN Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    @balletlove97 Great job on your 5!!! Unfortunately, I have to wait till tomorrow to get my scores since I live in Illinois >:P
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