5 Steps to a 5: AP Chemistry 2020
The fact that you are reading this preface suggests that you will be taking the AP exam in chemistry. The AP Chemistry exam is constantly evolving and so this guide has evolved. We have updated the book to match the new AP Chemistry exam. The new exam has an emphasis on sets—a series of questions that refer to the same given information, along with changes in the free-response portion.
The AP Chemistry exam certainly isn’t easy, but the rewards are worth it—college credit and the satisfaction of a job well done. You will have to work and study hard to do well, but we will, through this book, help you to master the material and get ready for the exam.
Both of us have many years of experience in teaching introductory general chemistry at the university
level. John Moore is the author of Chemistry for Dummies, and he and Richard “Doc” Langley have also written Chemistry for the Utterly Confused, a guide for college/high school students. Each of us has certain skills and experiences that will be of special help in presenting the material in this book. Richard has also taught high school science, and John has years of experience teaching chemistry to both public school teachers and students. Both of us have been graders for the AP Exam chemistry free-response questions for years and have firsthand knowledge of how the exam is graded and scored. We have tried not only to make the material understandable but also to present the problems in the format of the AP Chemistry exam. By faithfully working the problems you will increase your familiarity with the exam format, so that when the time comes to take the exam there will be no surprises.
Use this book in addition to your regular chemistry text. We have outlined three different study programs to prepare you for the exam. If you choose the yearlong program, use it as you are taking your AP Chemistry course. It will provide additional problems in the AP format. If you choose one of the other two programs, use it with your chemistry textbook also; but you may need to lean a little more on this review book. Either way, if you put in the time and effort, you will do well.
Now it’s time to start. Read the Introduction: The Five-Step Program; Chapter 1, What You Need to Know About the AP Chemistry Exam; and Chapter 2, How to Plan Your Time. Then take the Diagnostic Exam in Chapter 3. Your score will show how well you understand the material right now and point out weak areas that may need a little extra attention. Use the review exams at the end of the chapters to check your comprehension. Also, pay attention to the free-response questions. That is where you can really shine, and they are worth almost as much as the multiple-choice part. Use the Rapid Reviews to brush up on the important points in the chapters. Just before taking the exam, review the section on avoiding “stupid” mistakes at the back of this book. Keep this book handy—it is going to be your friend for the next few weeks or months.
Good luck: but remember that luck favors the prepared mind.
Not too long ago, you enrolled in AP Chemistry. A curiosity about chemistry, encouragement from a respected teacher, or the simple fact that it was a requirement may have been your motivation. No matter what the reason, you find yourself flipping through a book that promises to help you culminate this experience with the highest of honors, a 5 in AP Chemistry. Yes, it is possible to achieve this honor without this book. There are many excellent teachers of AP Chemistry out there who teach, coax, and otherwise prepare their students into a 5 every year. However, for the
majority of students preparing for the exam, the benefits of buying this book far outweigh its cost.
The key to doing well on the Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry exam is to outline a method of attack and not to deviate from this method. We will work with you to make sure you take the best path towards the test. You will need to focus on each step, and this book will serve as a tool to guide your steps. But do not forget—no tool is useful if you do not use it.
Organization of the Book
This book conducts you through the five steps necessary to prepare yourself for success on the exam. These steps will provide you with the skills and strategies vital to the exam, and the practice that will lead you towards the perfect 5.
First, we start by introducing the basic five-step plan used in this book. Then in Chapter 1, we will give you some background information about the AP Chemistry exam. Next, in Chapter 2, we present three different approaches to preparing for the exam. In Chapter 3, we give you an opportunity to evaluate your knowledge with a Diagnostic Exam. The results of this exam will allow you to customize your study. In Chapter 4, we offer you a multitude of tips and suggestions about the different types of questions on the AP Chemistry exam. Many times good test-taking practices can help raise your score.
Since the volume of the material to be mastered can be intimidating, Chapters 5 to 19 present a comprehensive review of the material that you will cover in an AP Chemistry course. This is review material, but since not all of this material appears in every AP Chemistry class, it will also help to fill in the gaps in your chemistry knowledge. You can use it in conjunction with your textbook if you are currently taking AP Chemistry, or you can use it as a review of the concepts you covered. At the end of each chapter, you will find both a multiple-choice and free-response exam for you to test yourself. The answers and explanations are included. This will also help you identify any topics that might require additional study.
After these content chapters, there are two complete chemistry practice exams, including multiple-choice
and free-response questions. The answers and explanations are included. These exams will allow you to test your skills. The multiple-choice questions will provide you with practice on questions similar to those asked on past AP exams. These are not the exact questions, but ones that will focus you on the key AP Chemistry topics. There are also examples of free-response questions; there are fewer of these, since they take much longer to answer. After you take an exam, you should review each question. Ask yourself, why was this question present? Why do I need to know this? Make sure you check your answers against the explanations. If necessary, use the index to locate a particular topic and reread the review material. We suggest that you take the first exam, identify those areas that need additional study, and review the appropriate material. Then take the second exam and use the results to guide your additional study.
Finally, in the appendixes you will find additional resources to aid your preparation. These include:
• A tip sheet on how to avoid “stupid” mistakes and careless errors
• Common conversions
• How to balance redox equations
• A list of common ions
• A bibliography
• A number of useful websites
• A glossary of terms related to AP Chemistry
• A table of half-reactions for use while answering free-response questions
• A table of equations and abbreviations for use while answering free-response questions
• A periodic table for use when answering any exam questions
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