Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credit is granted automatically based on the appropriate exam score. These details are fully outlined in the college’s catalog .

Most students begin their study of chemistry with Chemistry 101/102. Students with strong preparation should consider Chemistry 103—a one-semester, faster-paced introduction to chemistry—to start.

Placement in CHEM 103 is based either on an Oberlin placement exam that is given each fall or on AP, IB, or A-level scores. CHEM 103 also has a co-requisite of MATH 133 (Calculus I).

Entering students who have scores of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement examination of the Educational Testing Service, or 6 or 7 on the higher-level International Baccalaureate (IB) Chemistry Exam, can receive transfer credit equivalent to Chemistry 101 (one full course) and begin college chemistry with 102 or 103. Students will have to relinquish AP or IB credit if the corresponding coursework is repeated at Oberlin.

Students with A-levels scores of A*, A, B can begin with CHEM 103, but no credit is awarded.

Students with exceptional high school preparation in mathematics and chemistry, and either an AP score of 4 or 5, or an IB higher-level chemistry exam score of 6 or 7, may petition the department chair to enroll in CHEM 205, Organic Chemistry.

Upon successful completion (C- or better) of CHEM 205, the student would also receive credit for CHEM 103 instead of CHEM 101.

Chemistry 103: Topics in General Chemistry

This course is for students with excellent precollege preparation and takes the place of CHEM 101 and 102. This course is suited for students who already have a solid understanding of introductory topics such as the mole concept, balancing reactions, and calculating solution concentrations. Topics included in the course are reaction types, equilibrium, thermodynamics, reaction rates and mechanisms, and bonding.

Students who don’t already have qualifying AP, IB, or A-level scores may be admitted through an online placement exam. Students who have had chemistry in high school and who plan to take both chemistry and calculus should take the examination.

Common Questions

Must I take a placement test to get into CHEM 103?

Yes. You need to either have qualifying AP, IB, or A-level scores or pass the Chemistry 103 placement exam. SAT II scores or high school grades can’t be used for placement.

Is there is a placement test that will allow me to skip general chemistry and go directly into Chemistry 205 (Organic Chemistry)?

There is no placement exam that allows you to enter CHEM 205. However, if you had exceptional high school preparation in mathematics and chemistry, and earned an AP score of 4 or 5, or an IB higher-level chemistry exam score of 6 or 7, you may talk with the department chair about the possibility of enrolling in Chemistry 205, Organic Chemistry.

If I received a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry Exam do I need to take the Chemistry 103 placement test to qualify for the course?

You do not need to take the placement test. However, you still need to let us know that you want to take CHEM 103 so we can give you consent to register for the class.

I got a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry Exam. I’m not sure if I should take CHEM 103 or petition to enter CHEM 205. What should I do?

Most students who have earned 4 or 5 on the AP exam (or 6 or 7 on the higher-level IB exam) will enroll in CHEM 103. Success in CHEM 205 requires exceptional preparation in both the classroom and the laboratory as well as confidence in asking for help when it is needed. Whether your background qualifies you for CHEM 205 is a good topic to discuss with your academic advisor when you meet with him or her before registration. If you are interested in going into CHEM 205, you should also meet with the chemistry department chair before registration.

Is the Chemistry 103 placement test open to returning students?

Yes, returning students may take the exam. Please send an email to chemistry@oberlin.edu that you would like to take the test.