How Hard is AP Chemistry Really?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Are you one of those students who are asking about how hard is AP Chemistry really? Well, it is difficult! In fact, according to several AP chemistry students, even if they got high grades and even made it to the top during their first year in AP Chemistry, they still find it difficult.

Perhaps, you may start by changing your way of thinking that AP Chemistry is difficult. Although it is difficult, it does not mean you cannot get an A score in the class. The students are taught about the foundation of AP Chemistry and the application of those concepts.

What Subjects Does AP Chemistry Cover?What Subjects Does AP Chemistry Cover?

Compared to other AP courses, AP Chemistry is considered the hardest. In this course, you will learn about the basic foundation of Chemistry, like the structure and states of the matter, chemical reactions, and intermolecular forces.

To pursue AP Chemistry, you should finish your chemistry subjects and algebra during high school. You must complete your one-year introductory general chemistry in college before proceeding to AP Chemistry.

It comes with laboratory exposure, where you perform laboratory experiments and calculations. It will not only let you learn the concepts of AP Chemistry. It will also develop your skills such as creating experiments to test a hypothesis, formulating graphs, models, and diagrams that explain the chemical phenomena, learning to balance the chemical equation, and claiming scientific findings by supporting them with evidence. Below are the detailed subjects covered in AP Chemistry:

  • Atomic Structure and Properties – this tackles the atom’s structure, measurement, and categories.
  • Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties – this discusses the chemical bonds, their structure, and how they affect the molecules formed.
  • Forces and Properties of Intermolecular – this explains the formation of the atom into solid, liquid, and gas and how the subatomic affects everything in the surroundings.
  • Chemical Reactions – this differentiates the physical and chemical processes and chemical equations.
  • Kinetics – this includes the methods that change the chemical reaction and its effects.
  • Thermodynamics – this talks about the energy during chemical changes and its effects on the substance’s physical qualities.
  • Equilibrium – this explains everything you need to know about equilibrium.
  • Acids and base – this explains acids and base, their properties, and interactions.
  • Application of thermodynamics- this presents the thermodynamic favorability for reactions.

Is AP Chemistry the Hardest AP?

Is AP Chemistry the Hardest AP?

Is AP Chem the hardest AP class? Many previous students find AP Chemistry as the hardest AP. However, some also find it subjective because it is based solely on one’s opinion. Some students find physics the hardest but with a high passing rate, while others find English literature the hardest with a low passing rate.

How hard is AP Chem? Most of the students said that AP Chemistry is difficult, especially if you will do the self-study. Most of them suggest you study with your classmates because it becomes easier when you help one another. Others conclude that when you love Chemistry, and you read a lot about it, it will be easy for you.

It is difficult for students who don’t have any background in Chemistry. Other factors that made the students claim that AP Chemistry is the hardest are the teacher’s teaching style and learning resources such as books and PowerPoint presentations. If you are determined to take this course, you better first check the services, teaching strategies, and learning modules used throughout the period.

Why is AP Chemistry Considered Hard to Pass?

Why is AP Chemistry Considered Hard to Pass?

There are many reasons why AP Chemistry is considered hard to pass. Let us look at them one by one below:

It is a rigorous course

A lot of students find it challenging to achieve a score of 5 on the AP Chemistry exam. Students must stay six hours a week with three hours of homework outside of class per session. It usually reaches a total of sixteen hours per week of homework. Moreover, the students must be in school for seven hours a day and still need to participate in extracurricular activities. The requirements also demand that most students don’t find enough time to sleep and rest to comply.

There’s a lot of coverage

AP Chemistry is very long. It involves a lot of understanding, reading, calculating, and experimenting. There is so much to discuss. However, usually, the time given is not enough, which is why the students find it challenging to understand and memorize everything in a short period. Aside from that, you will not only need to understand the concept, but you must also learn how and when to apply it. Because of this, the passing rate during the AP Chemistry exam is usually just half of the total percentage of takers.

The background in Chemistry is inadequate

You may find AP Chemistry difficult when you don’t have prior knowledge about Chemistry. Sometimes the laboratory in high school does not have enough facilities to provide enough knowledge and experience about AP Chemistry. Sometimes, the subject is not offered. Even if those students who have enough background in Chemistry still find it difficult. How much more if you don’t know anything about it?

There’s a “teacher factor”

Many students agreed that the AP Chemistry teacher plays a vital role in the students’ learning. Some of the teachers are not well-prepared, especially those newly hired teachers. If the teacher is still learning, you may expect that the student will not be able to grasp the concept.

Another reason is the teacher’s learning style. Does the teacher discuss the entire topic or let the students do their way of learning? Does the teacher use visual or auditory methods of learning? The teacher’s teaching strategy is essential to learn and love AP Chemistry no matter how difficult it is.

The instructional materials are not presented clearly

When the instructional materials are not presented to you clearly, you may find it hard to understand even the basic concepts. Some students find it hard to know when they read the textbooks. Others report that it is easier to understand when the concepts are presented using a PowerPoint presentation. Some teachers use videos to support the discussion. This way, it will be easier for the students to grasp the topics.

The student did not study the materials well

Of course, those students who did not study well will find it challenging to understand AP Chemistry. Students should focus on the subject, mainly when the teacher discusses the lesson. It is advisable to ask questions when there are unclear explanations frequently.

Before the exam, students should be prepared enough by practicing and answering sample questions. Most importantly, when the students perceive AP Chemistry as difficult, it will end up being difficult. That’s why experts suggest that you must change the way you think about AP Chemistry to make it easier to study and pass the course.

Students do self-study

AP Chemistry becomes difficult if you do self-study. You should study with your classmates and motivate each other to strive more. You can share ideas, when you study in a group. Other learners might know certain topics that you didn’t understand. In the same way, you may also know some topics you can share to help other students.

What is the Passing Rate for AP Chemistry?

What is the Passing Rate for AP Chemistry?

One of the reasons why AP Chemistry is considered a difficult course is because of its low passing rate. Usually, only half of the students can pass the course. In addition, only a few students can get a score of 5. With this data, you can conclude that it is not an easy course.

It would be best if you had ample time to process all the subjects in this course. Oftentimes, it is not enough. You will need to pass several difficult tests, comply with tons of homework, and spend more time studying. Some students reported that those who got a grade of two usually are inattentive to class while the teacher is discussing the lesson.

Can You Self-Study AP Chemistry?

Can You Self-Study AP Chemistry?

The previous students would say that AP Chemistry is difficult, particularly if you do self-study. Many of them won’t even recommend it. However, if you are determined to finish the course through self-study, there is nothing wrong with it, especially if you are confident with your capabilities. Let us first look at the advantages and disadvantages of doing self-study for AP Chemistry below:

The advantages:

  • You can plan your time and schedule when and what to study. Thus, you can determine your learning plan based on your own pacing.
  • There are many available resources such as textbooks and online review e-books. As long as you are determined to study, the resources you need are available and accessible for you.
  • You may use the laboratory simulations to learn, which are accessible and readily available.
  • It may be easier to learn because you can memorize the topics rather than learn the new concepts.
  • No homework. One of the reasons that make AP Chemistry difficult is the homework. They are overwhelming, but you won’t experience this when you do self-study.

The disadvantages:

  • You may not have an exact plan and timeline, and there is no guidance on what to study and when to study.
  • There’s too much content to learn, which may confuse you about where to start.
  • You need a lot of motivation to study on your own. If you procrastinate, you will end up not keeping the right track.
  • It may be expensive for you. Although the resources are available, most of the time, they are costly.
  • There is no interaction with the teacher. It is good that you have a teacher who can discuss to you the content.
  • You may not develop your skills, particularly in the laboratory, because you will have a simulation experience.

It would help if you weighed your decisions before you chose to self-study for AP Chemistry. If you believe studying on your own is more effective for you, you may look for resources to help you learn. If you choose not to self-study, make the most of it while your teacher explains to you.

How Difficult is AP Chem Compared to AP Bio?

How Difficult is AP Chem Compared to AP Bio?

How hard is AP chem? Well, it is a case-to-case basis. If you love Chemistry, you may find it easier than AP Bio and vice versa. In AP Bio, you need a lot of memorization of the concept. If this is something that you don’t want to do, then you may find AP Bio more difficult.

There is no need for memorization in AP Chemistry, but you must understand the concepts and solve the problems. If you don’t like math and problem solving, you may find AP Bio easier than AP Chemistry.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is AP Chemistry Really?

How hard is AP Chemistry really? It isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to finish and pass the course. There’s a lot of coverage in AP Chemistry. The class is also very demanding and time-consuming. You need to give seven hours to attend the course and comply with the homework daily. If your heart is not into AP Chemistry, you may have trouble studying it.

The exams require rigorous analysis. When you don’t have any background in Chemistry, you won’t know how to answer those questions. That’s why you need to plan ahead as early as high school. If AP Chemistry is what you aim for, then you should take subjects in high school that are introductory Chemistry and even Algebra. In this manner, you will already know what to expect when you start your AP Chemistry course.

Another essential factor to consider when studying AP Chemistry is the teacher and the institution’s facilities where you want to enroll. When the teacher possesses effective teaching strategies with effective instructional materials and is complete with facilities, particularly the laboratory, you will quickly understand the concepts of this course.

Lastly, AP Chemistry is one of the most challenging AP exams compared to other AP courses such as Biology and Physics, mainly if you don’t love math and problem-solving. That’s why AP Chemistry is worth it! However, take note that it won’t be great if AP Chemistry is easy.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

Perhaps you have exams coming up and you’re considering studying with your friends but aren’t sure how to kick things off. Crafting the ultimate study group involves making sure that the time you spend together...

Read More