Pre-AP Chemistry

Offer Pre-AP Chemistry at your school.

In Pre-AP Chemistry, students develop a deep conceptual understanding of matter and energy at the molecular level as they learn to explain their macroscopic observations using particulate-level reasoning. As students engage in grade-level content, they utilize scientific reasoning skills needed to analyze the natural world—and to succeed in future science and social science courses in high school and college.


Areas of Focus

The Pre-AP science areas of focus are vertically aligned to the science practices embedded in high school and college courses, including AP. This gives students multiple opportunities to think and work like scientists as they develop and strengthen these disciplinary reasoning skills throughout their education in the sciences.

  • Attention to modeling: Students develop and refine models to connect macroscopic observations to structure, motion, and interactions occurring at the atomic scale.
  • Strategic use of mathematics: Students integrate mathematics with conceptual understanding to model chemical phenomena.
  • Emphasis on analytical reading and writing: Students engage in analytical reading and writing to gain, retain, and apply scientific knowledge and to carry out scientific argumentation.

Unit Foundations

These big ideas are addressed across all units:

  • Structure and Properties: All matter is composed of particles that are in constant motion and interact with one another. This movement and interaction is responsible for the observable properties of matter. Observed properties can be used to infer the number and types of particles in a sample of matter.
  • Energy: Energy is transferred in all physical and chemical processes. During these processes, energy is either redistributed within the system or between systems.
  • Transformations: At its heart, chemistry is about rearrangements of matter. These rearrangements, or transformations, involve the breaking and forming of intermolecular forces or chemical bonds. Macroscopic observations can be used to quantify and describe these rearrangements at the atomic scale.

Course at a Glance

Pre-AP Chemistry has four main units. Their key topics and recommended length are outlined here:

  • Unit 1: Structure and Properties of Matter (~6 weeks)
  • Unit 2: Chemical Bonding and Interactions (~8 weeks)
  • Unit 3: Chemical Quantities (~6 weeks)
  • Unit 4: Chemical Transformations (~8 weeks)

Instructional Resources

These resources support teachers as they design instruction for each unit but do not constitute a full day-by-day curriculum. They are intended to be used alongside local school or district materials to address objectives of the course framework:

  • Course framework: An anchor for model lessons and assessments, the framework defines what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course. Teachers can use this as the primary document to align instruction and course content.
  • Teacher resources: Available in print and online, these include a robust set of model lessons that demonstrate how to translate the course framework, shared principles, and areas of focus into daily instruction.

Additional resources

Pre-AP Chemistry does require additional resources for its model lessons. Most are commonly found in science stock rooms and are low-tech and low-cost, ensuring that all students can engage in inquiry-based investigations and reasoning. These include:

  • Consumable items that are usually replaced yearly (e.g., pH paper, chromatography paper, 9-volt batteries, cotton balls).
  • Chemicals that will need to be replaced regularly (e.g., ammonium nitrate, ethanol, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride).
  • General stock room equipment (e.g., beakers, chemical splash goggles, graduated cylinders, petri dishes). See the full list.

Assessments for Learning

Each unit contains:

  • In-lesson formatives: Short, open-ended problems that highlight the targeted content and skills for each lesson.
  • 2 learning checkpoints: These 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 in authentic contexts—to respond to questions that measure student understanding of the unit’s concepts and skills.
  • 1 performance task: A sustained problem-solving task that asks students to synthesize the unit’s skills and concepts while answering questions about a novel context.

A final exam allows students to demonstrate their success on the skills and content outlined in the course frameworks. This exam is optional. Pre-AP has not offered practice exams or published exam questions from prior years.