Skip to main content

Information for First Year Students (Class of 2017)

Information for First Year Students (Class of 2017) about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Swarthmore College

Foundations of Chemical Principles (either Chem 10 or Chem 10H) 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. 

For entering students with extensive (~2 years) high-school preparation in Chemistry:

First year students with a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Chemistry Examination taken junior year in high school or later, or a score of at least 6 on the International Baccalaureate advanced (higher level) chemistry examination will be invited to enroll in the honors section of Foundations of Chemical Principles (CHEM 010H).  Chem 10H differs from Chem 10 mainly by the depth and pace of topic coverage and assumes student's strong background in high school chemistry.  Topic selection in these two courses is, for the most part, the same.  CHEM 010H can be taken during either the first or second year at Swarthmore.

In the absence of an AP or IB score, students with extensive high school preparation can place into CHEM 010H by performance on the Chemistry Honors Placement Exam. This exam is given the Orientation week prior to the start of classes of a student's first-year at Swarthmore. Note: Swarthmore does not grant credit for Chemistry AP scores, just placement in CHEM 010H.

All students who plan to take general chemistry (Chem 10) at some point during their time at Swarthmore must take a Chemistry Readiness Exam. The only exception is for students who place into CHEM 010H as described above.  The Chemistry Readiness Exam will be used to help identify those with a very weak background in high school chemistry who would benefit from extra support.

Chemistry Readiness Exam

Incoming freshman should have already taken this online.

Honors Placement Chemistry Exam  (Two time options are given because there are other exams going on as well, and some students need to take placement exams in multiple departments.)

First time:        8AM to 10 AM on  8/28 in Science Center 199

Second time:    1PM to 3PM on 8/28 in Science Center 199

Topics on Honors Placement Exam (70 questions, multiple choice, 110 minutes):  Atomic Structure, Molecular Structure, Stoichiometry, Energetics, Dynamics, States of Matter/Solutions, Equilibrium, Electrochemistry and Redox, Descriptive Chemistry/Periodicity, Experimental.

For Questions about the Readiness Exam and Chem 10:  Contact Josh Newby (jnewby1)

For Questions about AP Scores and Chem 10H:  Contact Liliya Yatsunyk (lyatsun1)