The Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam and SAT Subject Test in Chemistry require similar skill sets but slightly different preparation. For both, a tutor can give your high school student the edge on a competitive field. SAT Chemistry is a great exam to have on your college application as most competitive schools require three SAT II Subject Tests. If they do not require them, strong scores give an important advantage over the competition. AP Chemistry is typically taken to earn college credit to place out of expensive college classes, although they can still be used to help your college application. You do not need to formally take an AP Chemistry course for the AP but it is recommended.

Format is biggest difference. The SAT 2 Chemistry is only about an hour for 85 questions whereas the AP is three hours and fifteen minutes for 67 questions. There are many more questions on the AP including many short answers in which you can receive partial credit, whereas the SAT Chemistry exam consists of all multiple choice. The SAT Chemistry tends to be a little more fact based whereas the AP Chemistry is a little more application based.

There is no calculator allowed on SAT Chemistry but on AP Chemistry you can use a calculator on the free response questions, not on the multiple choice. The math for the SAT and AP Chemistry exam is easily doable without a calculator with some mental math “tricks.” Nothing is truly a trick if you understand how it works.

For the SAT Chemistry, you are only given a Periodic Table but for AP Chemistry you are given an extensive equation sheet as well. You will only need to memorize some of these formulae for the SAT Chemistry as they ask slightly quicker, less in depth questions.

When taking the SAT Subject test in Chemistry, you may take other SAT Subject Tests as well. It may be a good idea to take this test before any other SAT Subject Tests as it can be extremely difficult. For the AP Chemistry, you can only take that test for the day. It may also be a good idea to take the SAT Chemistry exam in June after the AP Chemistry instead of taking them both close together. You’ll find that you will master some material while taking the AP that you will need for the SAT. Tests are always learning experiences no matter the preparation. Even after years of doing something, there are still connections that you make.

Advanced Placement Chemistry
SAT II Subject Test in Chemistry
3 hours and 15 minutes
1 hour
67 (60 multiple choice and 7 short answer)
(all multiple choice)
Useful formula sheet and Periodic Table
Periodic Table
Can I use a Calculator?
Not for multiple choice, Yes on free response
Not at all
May, June, October, November, December
When to register?
March 2
Typically about 1 month prior
Cost as of April 2015
$91 but $28 less if require financial assistance
About $42 depending on your variables and how many SAT Subject tests you take that day
Calendar and Registration

The SAT Subject Test in Chemistry has 3 types of questions – word bank characteristics, True/False, and multiple choice. The word bank problems require you to match a choice with the corresponding idea from their choices for consecutive problems. These groups can include laboratory equipment, famous experiments, scientists, colors of elements, properties of chemicals, or even more broad ideas from anything in high school chemistry. Just because one idea is used does exclude it from being the answer to another question. The True/False questions are unique in that you also have to write C/E (Cause/Effect) if the first part would be proved by the second part. Something can only be C/E if both statements are True but just because both statements are true does not mean it is C/E. When unsure, a good trick on these is to ask whether the second statement would prove the first statement or say because between them. If so, True/True, C/E is likely the correct choice. For the multiple choice, you can expect the dreaded “I, II, III” questions where they ask if it’s I, II, II, I and II, II and III, all of the above, or some combination in the multiple choice section. These are typically difficult, consume a lot of time, and should be skipped until the end.

The Advanced Placement only has two sections but there is a small break in between. The multiple choice is 60 questions in 90 minutes and are similar to the SAT subject test although some types of questions are more common than others. The seven short answer questions take 105 minutes (15 minutes have been added to this section in 2015) and allow use of a calculator. Design of an experiment is included. Some questions require a correct answer to the previous question so make sure you read the whole set questions prior to answering the first.

Both tests require extensive understanding of chemical and physical phenomenon. including stoichiometry, bonding, intermolecular forces and their affect on colligative properties, kinetics, equilibria, oxidation/reduction, acids and bases, thermodynamics as well as test taking abilities. Practicing how to thoroughly read a question properly, learning which questions to skip, and how to solve some seemingly complex questions simply can make a daunting set of exams very manageable. These skills will remain useful for SAT and AP Physics which most students in New York take the year after AP and SAT Chemistry. Physics and Chemistry share many overlaps and can be thought of as one subject.

Formula Sheet and Calculator Policy for the AP:

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