Undergraduate Studies > General Chemistry Options

University of Virginia Chemistry Department

Advising Document for students interested in taking General Chemistry and directions for registering for the General Chemistry Placement Assessment

Chemistry is an interesting and captivating subject, and it is important that you think about your levels of preparation, interest and motivation before you register for classes.  Given the challenges of learning chemistry, it is also important for you to adjust your overall schedule so that you will have adequate time to focus on the course.  The following FAQ is designed to help you make the best decisions about what chemistry course is right for you and when to take that course.

Who should take General Chemistry at UVA and when should they take it?

Students who are interested in majoring in sciences or engineering usually take general chemistry in their first year of college.  Students who do not plan to major in science, but are interested in fulfilling University requirements or for pre-health careers, can take general chemistry in their first or second year, and then go on to take Organic Chemistry in the subsequent year (if needed).  Students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam or a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB exam can receive credit for CHEM 1410/1610 and 1420/1620.  These students then have the following options:  1) just taking the General Chemistry Labs (CHEM 1411/1611 and 1421/1621), 2) forfeiting their AP credits and taking CHEM 1410/1610 and 1420/1620, or 3) taking CHEM 1810.  AP credit is never given for labs.  Students who have never taken chemistry should consider enrolling in CHEM 1400.  If you enroll in CHEM 1410, see the recommendations regarding course resources and extra help described below.  Please note that the Placement Assessment is not required.  It is to be used as a guide to determine which sequence is right for you.  It is primarily for students who are considering a major in the sciences and/or are considering the pre-health track.

Why is there a General Chemistry Placement Assessment?

The Chemistry Department asks students interested in taking general chemistry to take a placement assessment. The results of the assessment allow students to reflect on their readiness and motivation for taking General Chemistry.  Based on the assessment, math SAT scores and level of motivation, students will be better able to choose their chemistry path and to achieve success.

How do I access to the assessment?

Log onto Collab.
Click “Membership” (blue bars on the left)
Click “Joinable Sites”
In the search box (on the right), type “Gen Chem Placement Eval” and click search
Click “Join” when the site comes up in the list.

Once you are in the site please see directions posted.

What can I expect from General Chemistry?

There are 2 tracks of general chemistry: the 1410/1610 and the 1810 series.  In both tracks, you will explore chemical concepts and the significance of the chemical discipline while developing analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Both tracks require a dedicated and motivated student in order to be successful.  The differences between the two options are presented below.

  • The 1410/1610 Series: This is the main offering of general chemistry.  This course (CHEM 1410/1610) is taken by students interested in the physical and biological sciences, pre-medical studies, as well as several engineering fields.  Since the fall of 2013, CHEM 1410/1610 are offered using two different approaches.
    • CHEM 1410 (1610)-001 (MoWeFr 9:00AM – 9:50AM; Lisa Morkowchuk) and 1410-002 (MoWeFr 10:00AM – 10:50AM; Kevin Welch)
      This course is an introduction to modern chemical principles as a way to investigate and understand the quantum nature and behavior of matter. Topics covered include atomic structure, theories of molecular bonding, and chemical reactivity. Classes meet three times a week for 50 minutes and are a mix of traditional lecture and interactive learning activities. Additionally, students must sign up for one of the offered weekly discussion sections (Tu 6:30PM – 9:00PM, Mo 6:30PM – 9:00PM, or Mo 3:30PM – 6:00PM). Completion of basic high school chemistry is assumed; however, resources will be provided for all content needed for the course.
    • CHEM1410 (1610)-003 (MoWeFr 12:00PM – 12:50PM; David Metcalf)
      Classes meet three times a week for 50 minutes. Additionally, students must sign up for one of the offered weekly discussion sections (Tu 6:30PM – 9:00PM, Mo 6:30PM – 9:00PM, or Mo 3:30PM – 6:00PM).

All three sections will have an evening Discussion Session which meets one time per week.  In these sessions, students will be led through inquiry-based learning and problem-solving, applying concepts introduced during classroom activities.  Exams and quizzes will also be administered in the evening Discussion Sessions.

  • CHEM 1410-400 (Tu 8:00AM – 9:15AM and Fr 2:00PM – 3:15PM, Fr 3:30PM – 4:45PM, or Fr 5:00PM – 6:15PM; Linda Columbus)
    Students enrolled in CHEM 1410-400 will meet on Tuesday for 75 minutes with all 270 students enrolled and then meet in three groups of 90 students on Friday for another 75 minutes (this Friday session is not a discussion despite the label on SIS). Students enrolled will learn about electronic structure, bonding, chemical properties, and reactivity through a problem based approach. Reactions that have exciting impacts on our lives will be investigated through the lens of introductory chemistry. Students will work as individuals and in groups to explore the atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions involved in these reactions. Completion of high school chemistry is assumed; however, assessment of pre-knowledge and resources will be provided for all content needed for the course. This section is only open to students in the College of Arts & Sciences.

For all sections of CHEM 1410/1610 there will be teaching assistants available in the Chemistry Resource Center (3rd floor of Chemistry building) to offer help with concepts and calculations.  Additionally, professors hold several office hours during the week; schedules will be posted on Collab during the first week of classes.

A separate introductory Chemistry course, CHEM 1400, is offered in the spring for students who have not taken a high school chemistry course.  Students who enroll in CHEM 1400 typically are not science majors, but this course can prepare students who are interested in pursuing subsequent chemistry courses, including those required in the pre-medical curriculum.

  • The 1810 Series: The 800 series is designed as an accelerated group of courses for students who plan on majoring in a science, and who have credit for general chemistry through an advanced high school course (typically AP or IB). As with the 400 series, topics first semester include atomic structure, molecular structure, and foundations of chemical reactions, but are taught in greater depth than in the 400s series. Spectroscopy and advanced chemical structure topics are also explored. After CHEM1810, topics in the two series diverge, but it is possible to transfer from the 800s to the 400 series after the first semester. Exams in the 800s series are short essay format, and group problem-solving methods are heavily utilized. If you complete all four semesters of either the 400 or 800 series, you will have a good preparation for graduate school or medical school (e.g. MCATs or GREs).

What should I do after I take the General Chemistry Placement Assessment?

After you take the Assessment, reread this document.  Look at your scores and review the table below.  The table gives you guidelines to think about as you decide which course to register for.  In addition to helping you choose which course to take, you should also map out your plan of action.  For example, for CHEM 1410, there are numerous online resources that cover concepts in general chemistry that you can begin reviewing in order to be more “Chem ready” when you start your studies in the fall.  Additionally, you should look at your schedule and identify times when you can meet with the Teaching Assistants and/or Professor to review problem and concepts.

Students who have had a strong chemistry background and high SAT scores will find CHEM 1410/1610 course challenging, but doable.  Many students with less comprehensive background preparation will do very well if they come in with an attitude of hard work, participatory attitude, and a willingness to dedicate ample time to the course.  In this case, general chemistry will consume more time than other courses, due to the lab requirement and the challenging nature of the course.

Advising Document Table:

Score on General Chem Placement Assessment  and SAT Recommended Course Course Description Comments and Recommendations  
>14 correct on GCPE
>75thpercentile on Math SAT
4 or 5 on AP Chem Exam
CHEM 1810 See above Read pre-lecture/lab materials; complete pre-class assignments, attend all lecture and discussion sections; complete assignments in a timely manner; and seek help from instructors, including the professor and teaching assistants.
11-14 correct on GCPE
Highly motivated.
CHEM 1410/1610Review the different approaches in the three sections offered and decide which suits you best. See above Attend all lectures and discussion sections. Students will benefit from extra help from TAs in the Chemistry Resource Center.  See your professor for extra assistance. Student will benefit from exploring online resources before classes start in August.
7-10 correct on GCPE
Highly motivated.
CHEM 1410 Review the different teaching approaches of the three sections offered. See above Seek out extra help from TAs in Chemistry Resource Center and professor.  Schedule ample time to work on the class material (i.e. assignments and reviewing lectures, etc). It is highly recommended that the student explore online resources and an Introductory Chemistry textbook the summer before classes start in order to improve their preparation.
< 7 correct on GCPE You may want to consider taking CHEM 1400 in the spring semester and consider taking CHEM 1410 in the second year or during the summer.  You may register for CHEM 1410, but you should see your professor early in the semester and follow their advice.  See “Comments and Recommendations” last column of this table. See above It is highly recommended that the student explore online resources and an Introductory Chemistry textbook before classes start in order to improve their preparation.  You should actively seek out help and guidance from the TAs and your professor, along with allowing for ample time to work on the class material (i.e. assignments and reviewing lectures, etc.).

Please send inquires to Cindy Knight csk3a@virginia.edu or (434) 924-7995.

Link for AP Credit
Link for IB Credit
Link for Frequently Asked Questions