Course advice

Students may begin their study of chemistry with one of two courses:

  • Chemistry 101, General Chemistry I, is usually the first course for an entering student who has taken fewer than two years of high school chemistry. It covers the foundations of reaction chemistry, thermochemistry, electronic structure, chemical bonding, and acid-base chemistry.
  • Chemistry 201, General Chemistry II, is usually the appropriate choice for students who have taken two years of high school chemistry, completed A-level chemistry or the International Baccalaureate, taken the Advanced Placement examination in chemistry with a score of 4 or 5, or taken the Achievement Test in chemistry with a score of 650 or higher. This course covers electronic structure, equilibrium, spontaneity, electrochemistry, and some descriptive chemistry of the elements.

New students should take one of the department’s placement exams to determine the appropriate starting chemistry course:

  • Students with advanced preparation in general chemistry prior to college, as described above, should take the General Chemistry II placement test. Students who perform well on this exam will enter General Chemistry II in the fall semester.
  • Placement exams for CHEM 101. In order to make sure that students have the necessary problem solving skills before taking General Chemistry I, all students need to take a chemistry placement exam before registration is allowed. Test results will include advice on how to improve algebra and problem solving skills should that be needed. There will be another opportunity to take the exam in the fall. Permission to register will be granted after the placement exam is corrected based on performance. Here is the link to the General Chemistry I placement exam. To take the exam, after clicking on the link, click "Create Account" to make yourself an account using your Mount Holyoke email. Once you have an account, log in and look for Mount Holyoke College Courses. Under general chemistry, you will see a link called first semester or full year and under that you'll find the chemistry placement exam.  You will need the code fall14 to enter the exam and up-to-date information on test availability is available online.