Given the speed with which scientific discoveries and research continuously expand scientific knowledge, many educators are faced with the challenge of balancing breadth of content coverage with depth of understanding. The AP® Chemistry course addresses this challenge by focusing on a model of instruction which promotes enduring, conceptual understandings and the content that supports them. This approach enables students to spend less time on factual recall and more time on inquiry-based learning of essential concepts, and helps them develop the reasoning skills necessary to engage in the science practices used throughout their study of AP Chemistry.

To foster this deeper level of learning, the breadth of content coverage in AP Chemistry is defined in a way that distinguishes content essential to support the enduring understandings from the many examples or applications that can overburden the course. Illustrative examples are provided that offer teachers a variety of optional instructional contexts to help their students achieve deeper understanding. Additionally, content that is outside the scope of the course and exam is also identified.

Students who take an AP Chemistry course, designed with this curriculum framework as its foundation, will also develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical routines, and connecting concepts in and across domains. The result will be readiness for the study of advanced topics in subsequent college courses — a goal of every AP course.

The AP Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year. For some students, this course enables them to undertake, in their first year, second-year work in the chemistry sequence at their institution or to register in courses in other fields where general chemistry is a prerequisite. For other students, the AP Chemistry course fulfills the laboratory science requirement and frees time for other courses.

I. Big Ideas

1. Structure of Matter

2. Bonding and Intermolecular Forces

3. Chemical Reactions

4. Kinetics

5. Thermodynamics

6. Chemical Equilibrium

II. Science Practices

1. Drawing, explaining, and interpreting representations

2. Using mathematics and logical routines appropriately

3. Asking and refining scientific questions

4. Designing and implementing data collection strategies

5. Analyzing and evaluating data

6. Making predictions and justifying claims with evidence

7. Connecting chemistry concepts across the big ideas.