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1. About this Course

This course covers all of the substantive that is usually taught in one-year college course in general chemistry. The goal of the creator of this course –Modern States Education Alliance, a non-profit organization– is to prepare you to pass the College Board's CLEP examination and obtain college credit for free.

The CLEP examination places a major emphasis on understanding the structure and states of matter, reaction types, equations and stoichiometry, equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics. It also explores descriptive and experimental chemistry as well as fosters the ability to interpret and apply this material to new and unfamiliar problems.  

This exam contains approximately 75 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.

The “Chemistry” course is completely self-paced. There are no prerequisites to take this course, and it is entirely free. Any student who wants to save time and money while completing freshman year in college can take it.

This course is organized into nine topical chapters or modules that contain short video lessons, exercises and readings. 

During this CLEP examination, an online scientific (nongraphing) calculator function and a periodic table are available as part of the testing software. Students are expected to know how and when to make appropriate use of the calculator.

2. About Ruben Savizky

Professor Ruben M. Savizky, Ph.D., a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union in 1998, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale University in 2000 and 2005, respectively.

Prof. Savizky’s graduate work involved the synthesis of small molecule inhibitors for RNA-protein interactions, particularly those involved in HIV-1 replication. He started his independent career as an assistant professor at The Cooper Union in 2005, and was promoted to associate professor in 2011. During his time at The Cooper Union, he taught over a dozen different courses that have been taken by engineering students across the entire school (freshmen through graduate level), including several laboratory courses.

His teaching efforts have twice been recognized by the student body, as the recipient of the Student’s List letter in 2008 and in 2009. In 2011 he also began teaching courses in instrumental analysis, chromatography, quality analysis and quality control for the Bnai Zion Immigrant Training Program (now the Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers).

Prof. Savizky has also taught numerous courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and medicinal chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (now the Tandon School of Engineering), the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University. In addition he has tutored countless high school students for over ten years to help them prepare for SAT Subject tests, Advanced Placement exams, the International Baccalaureate exam, and the Chemistry Olympiad.

In 2015 Prof. Savizky and The Cooper Union released their first massively open online course (MOOC), in order to help high school students obtain college credit in the subject of chemistry.

Since 2005, Prof. Savizky has supervised over twenty research projects in a number of areas, including: pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry (synthesis of cholesterol lowering drugs, synthesis of HIV-1 inhibitors, synthesis of asymmetric epoxides, pharmacokinetic profiles of NSAIDs), biochemistry and biophysics (thermodynamic studies of RNA folding, kinetics of enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis), polymer and material science (synthesis and characterization of novel polymers), spectroscopy (development and commercialization of a pattern recognition algorithm for chemical analysis, quantum computing), and even art (analysis of encaustic paint samples).

These research projects have led to collaborations with a number of local universities such as Polytechnic University (now NYU-Poly), New York University and Columbia University, as well as with the private sector (Process NMR Associates, located in Danbury, CT). Some of this work has been presented at national meetings and conferences, including the 47th Experimental NMR Conference in 2006, the 232nd meeting of the American Chemical Society in 2006, the 47th Annual Eastern Analytical Symposium in 2007 and Pittcon in 2010.

Furthermore, Prof. Savizky was instrumental in arranging a project funded by Science House that involved spectroscopic analysis of chocolate. This provided Cooper Union’s undergraduate students with an opportunity to carry out sophisticated analyses following their sophomore year. The results of the students’ findings were presented at an event hosted at The Cooper Union, Chocolatefest 2010, and were filmed as a segment for ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.

For five years, Prof. Savizky has led high school students in real world, cutting-edge chemistry research projects in a laboratory setting under the auspices of The Cooper Union Summer Internship Program for High School Students. He has also participated in various Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) events, such as chemistry experiment demonstrations for elementary school children and annual Alumni Nights.

3. Required Knowledge and Skills

The CLEP exam requires you to demonstrate the following knowledge as indicated:

  • Recall - remember specific facts; demonstrate straightforward knowledge of information and familiarity with terminology.

  • Application - understand concepts and reformulate information into other equivalent terms; apply knowledge to unfamiliar and/or practical situations; use mathematics to solve chemistry problems.

  • Interpretation - infer and deduce from data available and integrate information to form conclusions; recognize unstated assumptions.

4. Course Modules

Following are the main topics and percentages of the exam’s questions, mostly based on the College Board's description of the course:

Module 1: Structure of Matter  (20%)

  1.1. Atomic Theory and Atomic Structure

1.1.1 Evidence for the Atomic Theory

1.1.2 Atomic Masses; Deterioration by Chemical and Physical Means

1.1.3 Atomic Number and Mass Number & Isotopes and Mass Spectroscopy

1.1.4 Electron Energy Levels: Atomic Spectra, Quantum Numbers, Atomic Orbitals

  1.2. Chemical Bonding

1.2.1 Binding Forces Types: Covalent, Ionic, Metallic, Macromolecular (or Network), Dispersion, Hydrogen Bonding Relationships to Structure and to Properties Polarity of bonds, Electronegativities

1.2.2 Geometry of Molecules, Ions and Coordination Complexes: Structural Isomerism, Dipole Moments of Molecules, Relation of Properties to Structure

1.2.3 Molecular Models Valence Bond Theory; Hybridization of Orbitals, Resonance, Sigma and Pi Bonds Other Models e.g. Molecular Orbital

1.2.4 Nuclear Chemistry: Nuclear Equations, Half-Lives and Radioactivity; Chemical Applications

Module 2: States of Matter 

  2.1. Gases

2.1.1 Laws of Ideal Gases & Equations of State for an Ideal Gas

2.1.2 Kinetic-Molecular Theory Interpretation of Ideal Gas Laws on the Basis of this Theory The Mole Concept; Avogadro's Number Dependence of Kinetic Energy of Molecules on Temperature: Boltzmann Distribution Deviations from Ideal Gas Laws

  2.2. Liquids and Solids

2.2.1 Liquids and Solids from the Kineticmolecular Viewpoint

2.2.2 Phase Diagrams of One-Component Systems

2.2.3 Changes of State, Critical Phenomena

2.2.4 Crystal Structure

  2.3. Solutions

2.3.1 Types of Solutions and Factors Affecting Solubility

2.3.2 Methods of Expressing Concentration

2.3.3 Colligative Properties; For example, Raoult's Law

2.3.4 Effect of Interionic Attraction on Colligative Properties and Solubility

Module 3: Reaction Types 

  3.1 Formation and Cleavage of Covalent Bonds

3.1.1 Acid-Base Reactions; Concepts of Arrhenius, Brønsted-Lowry and Lewis; Amphoterism

3.1.2 Reactions Involving Coordination Complexes

  3.2 Precipitation Reactions

  3.3 Oxidation-Reduction Reactions

3.3.1 Oxidation Number

3.3.2 The Role of the Electron in Oxidation-Reduction

3.3.3 Electrochemistry; Electrolytic Cells, Standard Half-Cell Potentials, Prediction of the Direction of Redox Reactions, Effect of Concentration Changes

Module 4: Equations and Stoichiometry (10%)

  4.1 Ionic and Molecular Species Present in Chemical Systems; Net-Ionic Equations

  4.2 Stoichiometry: Mass and Volume Relations with Emphasis on the Mole Concept

  4.3 Balancing of Equations, Including those for Redox Reactions

Module 5: Equilibrium (7%)

  5.1 Concept of Dynamic Equilibrium, Physical and Chemical: Lechatelier's Principle; Equilibrium Constants

  5.2 Quantitative Treatment

5.2.1 Equilibrium Constants for Gaseous Reactions in Terms of Both Molar Concentrations and Partial Pressure (Kc, Kp)

5.2.2 Equilibrium Constants for Reactions in Solutions Constants for Acids and Bases; pK; pH Solubility-Product Constants and their Application to Precipitation and the Dissolution of Slightly Soluble Compounds Constants for Complex Ions Common Ion Effect; Buffers

Module 6: Kinetics (4%)

  6.1 Concept of Rate of Reaction

  6.2 Order of reaction and rate constant: their determination from experimental data

  6.3 Effect of Temperature Change on Rates

  6.4 Energy of Activation; the Role of Catalysts

  6.5 The Relationship between the Rate-Determining Step and a Mechanism

Module 7: Thermodynamics (5%)

  7.1 State Functions

Module 8: Descriptive Chemistry (14%)

  8.1 Chemical Reactivity and Products of Chemical Reactions

  8.2 Relationships in the Periodic Table: Horizontal, Vertical and Diagonal

  8.3 Chemistry of the Main Groups and Transition Elements

  8.4 Organic Chemistry, Functional Groups and Isomerism

Module 9: Experimental Chemistry (9%)

  9.1 Understanding Experimental Chemistry

5. How CLEP Works

Developed by the College Board, CLEP (College-Level Examination Program®) is the most widely accepted credit-by-examination program.

CLEP’s credits are accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities, according to the College Board. These tests assess college-level knowledge in 33 subject areas.

On average, a college course costs $700 while a CLEP exam costs $80.

Modern States Education Alliance is the non-profit organization behind these edX-style courses. Its project is called “Freshman Year for Free” and its mission is to make college more accessible and affordable through free, high-quality online education.

• CLEP® Chemistry: at a Glance