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Pre-AP Chemistry focuses on students developing a deep conceptual understanding of matter at the molecular level by asking students to connect their macroscopic observations to particulate-level reasoning. Students will begin their exploration of matter by observing and measuring macroscopic properties of everyday materials and progress throughout the course to the study of increasingly deeper and more detailed perspectives of the particle nature of matter. Pre-AP Chemistry motivates students to be active participants in applying critical thinking and mathematical skills as they engage in data analysis, modeling, and productive collaboration with their peers.  

Areas of Focus

Each Pre-AP course focuses on a small set of discipline-specific instructional priorities that support both teacher practice and student learning within the discipline. These areas of focus reflect research-supported reasoning practices that should receive greater emphasis in instructional materials and assessments than they often do. Pre-AP recognizes that many teachers and schools already embrace these disciplinary practices, and now we are offering resources that specifically emphasize these areas of focus.

Pre-AP Chemistry Areas of Focus:

  • Attention to modeling: Students go beyond labeling diagrams to modeling chemical processes to demonstrate and revise understanding of key patterns, relationships, and interactions.
  • Focus on applying mathematics: Students use mathematics to understand and express the quantitative aspects of chemistry, to record and interpret experimental data, and to solve problems as they arise.
  • Emphasis on analytical reading and writing: Students engage in analytical reading and writing to gain, retain, and apply scientific knowledge.

Underlying Unit Foundations

These big ideas are addressed across units:

  • All matter is composed of particles that are in constant motion and interact with one another. This movement and interaction leads to the observable properties of matter.
  • Observations of macroscopic properties can be used to determine the number and type of particles in a sample of matter.
  • All physical and chemical processes are accompanied by a transfer of energy.
  • In chemical reactions, atoms are rearranged to make new substances.

Course at a Glance

The table below shows the four main units in Pre-AP Chemistry, the recommended length for each unit, and the key topics in each.

Unit 1: Particle View of Matter
Timeframe: 6 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Particle view of states of matter
  • Phase changes and particle interactions
  • Kinetic molecular theory
Unit 2: Particle Interactions
Timeframe: 9 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Classification and interactions of matter
  • Molecular structure and properties
  • Covalent and ionic bonding
Unit 3: Chemical Quantities
Timeframe: 6 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Counting particles in substances
  • Counting particles in chemical reactions
Unit 4: Chemical Transformations
Timeframe: 8 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Precipitation chemistry
  • Oxidation–reduction chemistry
  • Acid–base chemistry
  • Thermochemistry
  • Kinetics

Instructional Resources

Schools that officially implement a Pre-AP course will receive access to instructional resources for each unit. These resources don’t constitute a full day-by-day curriculum. Instead, they provide support and model lessons as teachers design instruction for each unit.

Pre-AP Chemistry instructional resources include:

  • A course framework, model lessons, and practice problem sets for key concepts within each unit that provide guidance and support for teaching the course.
  • 1–2 laboratory investigations and 1 practice performance assessment for each unit.

Learning Checkpoints

Each unit includes many opportunities for meaningful feedback:

  • Online quizzes featuring multiple-choice questions modeled closely after the types of questions students encounter on SAT tests and AP exams, as well as technology-enhanced questions. These quizzes ask students to examine data, models, graphs, diagrams, and short texts in order to respond to a targeted set of questions that measure both the key concepts and skills from the unit.
  • 4 performance-based tasks and corresponding scoring guidelines. The Pre-AP Chemistry performance tasks are opportunities to evaluate the depth of student understanding of key concepts and skills that are not easily assessed in a multiple-choice format. Performance tasks will give students an opportunity to practice sustained problem solving in authentic contexts and apply skills and concepts from across the course units.