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How to Get a 5 in AP Chemistry

4 min readmay 1, 2021

Dalia Savy


Getting a 5️⃣ on the AP Chemistry Exam may seem hard at first, but with hard work and practice, you'll set yourself up for it. Plus, we've got some tips and tricks for you to help you get the score you deserve in May😌!

1. Know the Exam Format 📚

Before preparing for the exam, it's good to know what exactly is on it. Here is a quick overview:
Section 1: Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
  • You have 90 minutes to answer 60 MCQs.
  • This will count as 50% of your total exam score.
  • No calculator is permitted for this section of the exam so it will be more conceptual.
Section 2: Free Response Questions (FRQ)
  • You have an hour and 45 minutes to answer 7 FRQs.
    • There are three long essay questions, that are worth 10 points each and four short-answer questions, that are worth 4 points each.
  • This section will also count as 50% of your total exam score.
  • A calculator is permitted, so this is the section of the test where you will be asked to do most of the calculations of the course.
Here is also a quick breakdown of what units are on the test:

Unit Weighting — AP Exam

UnitsWeight on Exam
Unit 1: Atomic Structure and Properties7-9%
Unit 2: Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties7-9%
Unit 3: Intermolecular Forces and Properties18-22%
Unit 4: Chemical Reactions7-9%
Unit 5: Kinetics 7-9%
Unit 6: Thermodynamics7-9%
Unit 7: Equilibrium7-9%
Unit 8: Acids and Bases11-15%
Unit 9: Applications of Thermodynamics7-9%
Looking at the exam breakdown, you can identify which units you should prioritize over the others. Since about 18-22% will be about intermolecular forces, it is really important to study this unit a lot and make sure you really understand the concepts.

2. Study Throughout the Year 📅

Pacing is important!
AP Chemistry 🧪 covers so many different topics, and there are lots of overlaps between them. This makes it important to nail every unit for your unit exam at school, rather than trying to figure out the basics in April while studying for the AP. This only ensures that you understand the knowledge 🧠 and leaves much more time to do practice questions when studying for the exam. Set yourself up for success and try not to cause yourself too much stress!
There are tons of resources you could use to help you study!
Study a little bit everyday, and trust me, you'll do so much better in the long run.

Resources:

3. Do Practice Questions❓

Practice makes perfect, especially for AP Chem. Try using your textbook throughout the year for solid practice questions that would help you understand each unit.
Once May comes around (sadly, sooner than you expect it), try doing tons of past AP FRQs.
AP Classroom is also a really good source for practice questions, so be sure to take advantage of this accessible, free content.

4. Know your Strengths and Weaknesses when Studying

Know yourself:
  • Know how you learn 🤔
    • Do you prefer watching videos or reading study guides to help you review content? Does writing information down several times help with memory?
  • What information you are comfortable with
    • Make a table with two columns (comfortable with / need improvement on) and just review this column briefly
  • What content you need more practice with
    • Using the above table, place content that you need more practice with in the "need improvement on" column. Focusing your studying in specific areas becomes very helpful 💯
Everyone learns differently, so don't worry if something your friend does doesn't work for you.
Same rule applies to how quickly one learns. Don't stress if you are taking a little more time trying to understand the content and need to ask more questions in class. Seriously, don't be scared! Asking questions and wanting to learn and do better is always a good thing 🥳.
Don’t be scared to ask other students for help, they’ll usually be able to explain the same concept your teacher taught in a more digestible manner. —Giuliana P.

5. Read the Questions Carefully 🧐

On the multiple-choice section, there may be lots of fluff or useless information. To make sure you understand the questions and ace them 💯, annotate the MCQs and underline important facts. Make sure you answer what they are asking for! Sometimes they may ask the questions in a strange way, but once you read it several times, you'll bypass their crazy, confusing wording.
For the free-response questions (FRQs), be sure to answer with specific content and answer what they are asking for. Sometimes, students would complete the question with all the right information and answers, but they would forget to answer the actual question.
The more you expose yourself to different practice questions, the less surprised you'll be on the AP Exam (there are only so many ways you could ask a question). Also, exposing yourself to lots of AP-level questions would get you used to the challenging content you'll see on the exam.
As long as you pace yourself on the exam, you'll be able to read through everything carefully and answer the question the way they want you to.

Closing Thoughts

Stay confident and take things slow! Pacing yourself is 🔑 especially with such a content-heavy course.
Don't forget to have fun too; you gotta admit, you learn some pretty cool things 😉
Keep your mind open! Be ready to learn and digest new information every day. Keep up with your readings, and the courses will leave you with the knowledge that will change your thinking for the better. — Meghna P.

Was this guide helpful?

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Browse Study Guides By Unit
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Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep
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Free Response Questions
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Multiple Choice Questions
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Unit 1: Atomic Structure and Properties
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Unit 2: Molecular and Ionic Compound Structures and Properties
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Unit 3: Intermolecular Forces and Properties
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Unit 4: Chemical Reactions
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Unit 5: Kinetics
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Unit 6: Thermodynamics
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Unit 7: Equilibrium
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Unit 8: Acids and Bases
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