Information for First Year StudentsClass of 2018

Information for First Year Students (Class of 2018) about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Swarthmore College

Foundations of Chemical Principles (either Chem 10 or Chem 10HN) is the first course a student intending to continue in either Chemistry or Biochemistry at Swarthmore College should take.  The department also occasionally offers a non-majors chemistry course (Chemistry 1) that covers a series of real-world issues with significant chemical content.  Chemistry 1 can serve as a "Natural Sciences and Engineering Practicum" (NSEP course) and can count towards the Environmental Studies minor.  Chemistry 1 does not, however, fulfill any prerequisite to continue to higher-level chemistry courses. 

Either Chem 10 or Chem 10HN should be taken by any student who plans on taking any more advanced chemistry courses (including organic chemistry) during their time at Swarthmore. Topic selection in these two courses is, for the most part, the same. Chem 10HN differs from Chem 10 mainly in the depth and pace of topic coverage and assumes that students have a strong background in high school chemistry. Chem 10HN is recommended only for students with extensive (~2 years) high school chemistry background.

Chem 10 is open to all Swarthmore students any time in their undergraduate career.  However it is strongly advised that students interested in taking Chem 10 complete the on-line Chemistry Readiness Exam before their arrival at Swarthmore. Chem 10HN can be taken only during a student's first or second year at Swarthmore College. Students must be placed into this course according to their achievements on the Chemistry Placement Exam. Please see the following section for a detailed description of the exams available to incoming students through the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Chemistry Readiness Exam

All students who plan to take general chemistry (Chem 10) at any point during their time at Swarthmore must complete the Chemistry Readiness Exam. The only exception is for students with a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Chemistry Exam or a score of at least 6 on the International Baccalaureate Advanced (Higher Level) Chemistry Examination. These students are automatically placed into Chem 10 and have immediate access to the Chemistry Placement Exam, the results of which can qualify them to take Chem 10HN. Note: Swarthmore does NOT grant credit for Chemistry AP or IB exam scores, just access to the Chemistry Placement Exam.

The Chemistry Readiness Exam covers general mathematics and high school level chemistry knowledge. Results from this exam will be used to help identify those with a very weak background in high school chemistry who would benefit from extra support.

The exam is available online on: Monday, July 14.

Chemistry Placement Exam

The Chemistry Placement Exam is to be taken only by students who want to enroll in Chem 10HN. Access to this exam is granted to students who have scores of 5 on AP or at least 6 on IB (Higher Level). Additionally, other students who perform well on the Readiness Exam will be invited to take the Placement Exam. Students who show proficiency in their chemistry background by achievement on the Placement Exam will be invited to sign up for Chem 10HN. No student will be placed into Chem 10HN without results of the Chemistry Placement Exam.

Please note that successful completion of the Chemistry Placement Exam is not a guarantee of enrollment in Chem 10HN. Acceptance into Chem 10HN is competitive, so availability of spots in Chem 10HN varies on a year-to-year basis with the student demand for the course.

Topics on Chemistry Placement Exam:  Atomic Structure, Molecular Structure, Stoichiometry, Energetics, Dynamics, States of Matter/Solutions, Equilibrium, Electrochemistry and Redox, Descriptive Chemistry/Periodicity.

The Chemistry Placement Exam is available to qualified students online on: Monday, July 21.

For Questions about the Readiness Exam and Chem 10:  Contact Kevin Welch (kwelch1)

For Questions about AP Scores and Chem 10HN:  Contact Paul Rablen (prablen1)