👋🏼 Hi, I'm Wes Winter! I'm an AP Chemistry teacher from Santa Cruz, CA and streamer at Fiveable. This year's exam is different than we expected, but I'm here to help. I've put together this study guide to help keep you on track while you are studying from home. You can follow this guide on your own with a free Fiveable account! I'll also be joining a group of students live on Tuesdays @ 8pm ET during cram sessions. Pick up your cram pass to join us.

Format of the New 2020 AP Chemistry Exam

This year, the AP Chemistry will look different than you were expecting. As we’re all on quarantine 😷 due to COVID-19, the College Board has decided to update the format and content of the test to fit an online testing format.

You’ll have 45-minutes to take the exam online and it will only cover units 1-7. If you have already studied content from unit 8 or 9 don’t stress! It’s all worth knowing.

These units are on the exam.

1 - ⚛️  Atomic Structure and Properties

2 - 🤓  Molecular and Ionic Structure and Properties

3 - 🌀  Intermolecular Forces and Properties

4 - 🧪  Chemical Reactions

5 - 🏃🏻‍♂️  Kinetics

6 - 🔥  Thermodynamics

7 - ⚖️  Equilibrium

These units will not be on the exam:

8 - 🍊  Acids and Bases

9 - 🧯  Applications of Thermodynamics

What will be on the test?

  • Two Long FRQs

    • Q1 = 25 minutes and will be 60% of your score

    • Q2 = 15 minutes and will be 40% of your score

  • Make sure to print or open the Periodic Table of Elements and the AP Chemistry Equations and Physical Constants sheet

  • Calculators are allowed, but all calculations can be done without one

When is the exam and how do I take it?

May 14 @ 2p Eastern! Wherever you are in the world, this is the time you’ll take the test. Unless you have been approved for the make-up date in June, but only your school can request that. You’ll take the test online. There will be a practice simulation posted by College Board within the next few weeks.

How do I prepare for the exam?

With so many school closures and the stress of a global pandemic, this review season will be different than usual. If this is your first AP exam, welcome! Don’t worry, it’s not usually this chaotic. 

We’ve put together this plan for you to follow between now and May. This will cover all of the units and leave you time to practice questions before test day. Some classes may have done units out of chronological order throughout the year, which is ok. The units don’t have to be taught in order. If you are learning new material on your own and need some help, use the chat bubble on We’ll answer any questions you may have. 

What resources does this study plan use?

All of the required resources are free. You’ll need to create a free Fiveable account to jump in.  We’ve also linked a few other websites, articles, and YouTube videos that you can access for free. Some of the suggested resources include paid products. There are some documentaries that you can find on streaming sites with a paid membership and we’ll also list streams and practice questions that require a paid cram pass on Fiveable.


Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means you’ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual. 

🖥 Create a study space. Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space. 

📚 Organize your study materials. Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get your self set up!

📅 Plan designated times for studying. The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.

🏆 Decide on an accountability plan. How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!

⚛️ UNIT 1: Atomic Structure and Properties

Join the live cram stream: Unit 1 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Atomic Structure and Properties dives into the make-up of the atom. This includes the subatomic particles, some (very) basic quantum mechanics, and the mole definition. We will look at important graphs, electron configurations, and describe some of the basic math necessary to describe atoms and their structure.

Definitely do this:

🎥Watch these videos:

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 5 from the 2019 AP Chemistry test tests students on photoelectronspectroscopy.

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 3, Parts (a)-(c) test students on electron configurations and periodic trends.

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

🤓 UNIT 2: Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties

Join the live cram stream: Unit 2 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Now that we have learned about the atomic structure, we can determine how atoms form chemical bonds. This section focuses mostly on molecular (covalent) and ionic compounds. For molecules, we will learn about Lewis structures, formal charge, and resonance. For ionic compounds we will see how the atomic properties affects the characteristics of the compound. 

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

✍️ Practice:

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 2, Parts (d) test students on Lewis structures and hybridization.

  • 2017 FRQ: Number 1, Part (c) tests students on Lewis structures and bond angles and number 2, part (a) tests students on formal charge and resonance. Lastly, number 6, part (b) is a question regarding Coulomb’s law and lattice energy.

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

🌀 UNIT 3: Intermolecular Forces and Properties

Join the live cram stream: Unit 3 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Prior to this year’s changes, this was the biggest unit that AP chemistry tested. Without acids and bases, the second largest section, Unit 3 could be an important section. Intermolecular forces look at the attractive forces between particles and use this knowledge to make assumptions and predictions of the bulk scale properties of the substances. In this section, we will study the properties of solids, liquids, gases, and solutions. 

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 1, Part (b) from the 2019 AP Chemistry test asks students about intermolecular forces and solutions. Number 2, part (a), (c), & (d) asks students about intermolecular forces and the ideal gas law. Lastly, Number 4 is an excellent question describing the properties of an ideal gas. 

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 4 asks students about deviations from the expected boiling points and intermolecular forces.

🧪 UNIT 4: Chemical Reactions

🌶 Join the live cram stream: Unit 4 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

This unit introduces stoichiometry and the three types of chemical reactions that are studied in AP Chemistry; Acid-Base, Oxidation-Reduction, and Precipitation Reactions. We will look at different ways to qualitatively and quantitatively describe these reactions. Some of those methods include balancing reactions, limiting and excess reactants, and titrations. 

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 3, part (a)-(e) asks a precipitation and limiting reactant problem for an example in solution. Number 7 is a redox reaction titration. This is an excellent example of laboratory technique. 

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 1 (a)-(c) starts with a redox reaction and a limiting reactant problem. Number 2 (d)-(f) describes a titration problem and asks students specific questions in regards to laboratory technique.

🏃🏻‍♂️ UNIT 5: Kinetics

🌶 Join the live cram stream: Unit 5 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

This specific section describes the rates of chemical reactions and how we can use these concepts to determine the mechanisms of the process. We will specifically look at the differentiated and integrated rate laws to quantitatively describe the kinetics of reactions. We will dive into the collision theory to describe the reaction speed quantitatively.

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

📰 Check out these articles:

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 6 asks students about the integrated rate law and reaction mechanisms.

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 7, part (b) and (c) asks students to mathematically apply the integrated rate laws.

🔥 UNIT 6: Thermodynamics

🌶 Join the live cram stream: Unit 6 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

In Thermodynamics, we are mostly looking at Enthalpy (H). Every reaction or process in the world releases or absorbs energy, and the enthalpy value for reactions is how we study them. We will also spend time looking at calorimetry, the method for determining the enthalpy value for a reaction. 

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

  • Enthalpy of Reaction by Bozeman Science: An excellent video describing what enthalpy is and how we chemists use this value. 

  • Calorimetry by Crash Course: A good introduction to calorimetry and how we use these techniques to determine the enthalpy of reaction.

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 1 part (c)-(d) is an excellent question related to calorimetry and experimental design. Number 2 part (g) asks students about bond energies and enthalpy of reaction. 

  • 2018 FRQ: Number 1 is an excellent question which represents multiple units. While you might not need every answer, College Board asks questions in such a way that leads you through the question. Parts (d)-(f) particularly relate to unit 6.

⚖️ UNIT 7: Equilibrium

🌶 Join the live cram stream: Unit 7 Review with Wes Winter. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Most chemical reactions exist in a state of dynamic equilibrium. In other words, the reactants react to make the products at the same rate that the products remake the reactants. This important unit has many implications and connections to the real world. We will quantitatively look at this unit by using the equilibrium expression. We will qualitatively look at this unit using Le Chatelier’s Principle. 

Definitely do this:

🎥 Watch these videos:

  • Equilibrium: This video reviews equilibrium and discusses the equilibrium constant

✍️ Practice:

  • 2019 FRQ: Number 2 Parts (d)-(f) asks students about the equilibrium expression and asks students to determine the equilibrium constant. 

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