Chemistry Advanced Placement Information

The current Chem091 policy will be changing for the incoming class of 2021. Chem091 will no longer be awarded to students with Chem AP score of 5. To get more information about the new policy, please refer to the College website:

There are two means by which you can be granted Advanced Placement credit in Chemistry:

1. Strong performance on a standardized exam taken before arrival at Penn (AP test, International Baccalaureate exam, etc.) and/or

2. Satisfactory performance on the Penn Chemistry Placement Exams. Separate exams are given for Chem 101 and Chem 102 placement.

Standardized exams taken before arrival at Penn and credit awarded:

An AP exam score of 5: credit will be awarded for 1 c.u. of Chem 091, generic "introductory chemistry".

An AP exam score of 4 or less will not be awarded credit.

An International Baccalaureate (IB) score of 6 or 7 will be considered equivalent to an AP exam score of 5 (i.e. Chem 091, see above.)

No credit will be awarded for a score of 5 or lower on the IB exam.

An A-Levels grade of A  will be considered equivalent to an AP exam score of 5 (i.e. Chem 091, see above.)

No credit will be awarded for a grade of B or lower on the A-Level exam.

Other exams or special programs: (German Abitur, French Baccalaureate, etc.) Credit will be determined on the basis of the Chemistry Department Placement exam.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chemistry Advanced Placement:

"What is Chem 091? It's not listed in the course catalog!"
Chem 091 is used to indicate the equivalent of 1 c.u. (1 semester) of introductory chemistry based solely on standardized exam performance (high school AP exam, etc.) Chem 091 does not correspond exactly to either Chem 101 or 102. HOWEVER, credit for Chem 091 can be converted into either Chem 101 or 102 by taking the Chemistry Department Placement exam (and doing well).

"What is the Penn Chemistry Placement Exam?"
These two-hour placement exams will cover subject material from Chem 101 and Chem 102 at the level of sophistication expected in these classes at Penn! In other words, the exams will look very much like a final exam from Chem 101 or 102. The questions will be representative of the general material and avoid subjects that might vary from professor to professor. "Satisfactory Performance" will correspond to a grade of "C" or better (based on the grading standards employed in normal Chem 101/102 classes.)

Click here for more details on the exam and how to prepare for it:  General Chemistry Placement Exam Information

"Should I take the Penn Chemistry Placement Exam?"
IF you never expect to take any further chemistry courses, you do not need to take this exam. Any credit awarded for Chem091 based on previous standardized tests will count towards the total number of credits you need to graduate.

IF your major or program requires a full year of intro chemistry, or more advanced chemistry classes (e.g. organic), you should take the Chemistry Placement Exam. This will determine (1) whether your AP credit corresponds to Chem 101, 102, or neither (i.e. Chem 091); and (2) which course you should take to complete 1 year of intro chemistry.

"I got a "3" on the AP exam in high school (or I didn't take the AP exam at all) - can I still take the Penn Chemistry Placement Exam?"

YES! The placement exam is open to all first year and transfer students, regardless of their AP score, etc. You can be awarded Chem 101 and/or Chem 102 credit for satisfactory performance on our exam.

Some examples:

Example 1: A student was automatically awarded 1.0 c.u. for Chem 091 based on her score of "5" on the high school AP. However, she needs to complete one year (2 semesters) of chemistry for her major. She takes the placement exams, and does well on the Chem 102 exam, but poorly on the Chem 101 exam. Thus her generic Chem 091 credit would be converted to Chem 102 on her transcript, and she would take Chem101 to complete the 2 semester sequence.

Example 2: A student received no credit for his AP score of "3", but believes he really does understand the material very well. He also needs 2 semesters of general chemistry for his major. He takes the Chemistry Placement exams and does great on both parts. He would then receive credit for both Chem 101 and Chem 102 on his transcript, and would be permitted to take more advanced courses.

Example 3: A student with Chem 091 credit (AP = 5)  does poorly on both placement exams and needs to take both Chem 101 and Chem 102 for his major or program. The student enrolls in Chem 101, and credit earned for Chem 101 replaces the original Chem 091 credit.

Example 4: A student with Chem 091 credit (AP = 5) wants more background in general chemistry and elects to take a general chemistry course offered at Penn (e.g., Chem 101, 102, 115 or 116).  The student's Chem 091 credit is replaced with this college course credit.