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Pre-AP Chemistry focuses on students developing a deep conceptual understanding of matter and energy at the molecular level by asking students to explain their macroscopic observations using 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 explore 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 context driven mathematics, 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're offering resources that specifically emphasize these areas of focus.

Pre-AP Chemistry Areas of Focus:

  • Attention to modeling: Students go beyond labeling diagrams to explanatory modeling chemical processes to demonstrate, revise, and deepen understanding of key concepts and principles.
  • Strategic use of mathematics: Students use mathematics to understand and express the quantitative aspects of chemistry, to record and interpret experimental data, reveal patterns and relationships, and to solve problems.
  • Emphasis on analytical reading and writing: Students engage in analytical reading and evidence-based writing to gain, apply, and communicate scientific knowledge.

Underlying Unit Foundations

These big ideas are addressed across units:

  • Structure and Properties
  • Energy
  • Transformations

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: 8 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 and model lessons for key concepts within each unit that provide guidance and support for teaching the course.
  • One or two practice performance tasks with scoring guidelines and instructional support suggestions for each unit.

Assessments for Learning

Each unit contains:

  • Short, open-ended formative assessment problems or questions embedded in some model lessons to show the targeted content and skills, related to the lesson’s learning objectives, that students should master.
  • Two online learning checkpoints per unit that feature multiple-choice and technology-enhanced questions modeled closely after the types of questions students encounter on SAT tests and AP Exams. Learning checkpoints require students to examine graphs, data, and short texts— often set in authentic contexts—to respond to a targeted set of questions that measure student understanding of the unit’s concepts and skills.
  • One performance task per unit that engages students in sustained problem solving and asks them to synthesize the unit’s skills and concepts to answer questions about a novel context.