|Map of important ideas in Chemistry for the SAT, AP, and Regents Exams|
I’ve sketched some of the most important topics for the SAT II Subject Test in Chemistry, AP Chemistry Exam, and New York Regents Chemistry exam. This is by no means an exhaustive concept map and includes only the most important relationships and how they stem from the basic interactions of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Each box can be further subdivided into its own map, especially for college general chemistry. In oversimplifying many ideas, there will invariably be some mistakes or some general rules that aren’t true under all circumstances. For example, determining how polar a molecule is much more intricate than determining if the molecule is symmetrical and ionic/covalent but this will determine the vast majority of the simple cases in high school chemistry and is a great starting point.
This can be broken up in many different ways but I wanted to include every major topic on these exams – Acids/Bases, Redox, Organic Chemistry, Ideal Gases, Kinetics/Thermodynamics, Phase Changes, and Solubility. It is important to understand how these complex phenomena stem from the basic concepts in order to ace the AP, SAT, and Regents Chemistry. I focused on how many of the chemical and physical properties of compounds we see around us everyday stem from electrons fitting into positions of lowest energy. One position of lowest energy that is common is 8 valence electrons, which has many implications to the atom’s attraction for other electrons, its shape, the ions they form, and other properties. Obviously, all three subatomic particles are intimately related. The number of electrons in a neutral atom is determined by the number of protons. The ratio of protons and neutrons must form a stable nucleus otherwise it will radioactively decay. However, since electrons want (excuse the personification) to form a stable configuration, they determine the periodic trends (such as electronegativity), how certain elements react, and the shape of the molecules that these reactions form. Polarity affects many physical properties such as boiling point and freezing point. All blue boxes and lines have to do with polar compounds such as acids/bases and compounds undergoing oxidation/reduction. Orange represents non-polar molecules such as organic hydrocarbons. Additionally, red is protons, green represents neutrons, gray signifies anything to do with electrons, and black denotes physical properties.
Kinetics and equilibria can be used to determine reaction rates and results (or non-results) of reactions for all types of compounds. Nearly everything can be expressed using these phenomena. Intermolecular forces, pressure (from Ideal gases), and kinetics are just a couple of places from where a physics map can be expanded. It is equally hard to determine from where a map of topics in biology should ideally branch as all living things that we are aware of are based on organic chemistry. We use blood as a buffer to maintain out proper acid/base levels (pH). Bananas give off enough radiation that we measure exposure in “banana equivalent doses.”It is best to look at chemistry, physics, and biology as one course because concepts from one discipline can often be explained by phenomena in the other two.
Please let me know if you would like me to expand upon this or make similar maps as I see them. For more details and regarding tutoring in NYC in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, contact me here.