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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 of the exam’s questions, mostly based on the College Board's description of the course:

Module 1: Structure of Matter and the Periodic Table

  1.1. Atomic Theory and Atomic Structure

  1.2. Nomenclature

  1.3. Evidence for the Atomic Theory

  1.4. Atomic Masses

  1.5. Isotopes and Mass Spectrometry

  Practice Question #1

  1.6. Nuclear Chemistry

  1.7. Energy and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

  1.8. Electron Energy Levels

  1.9. Pauli Exclusion Principle

  Practice Question #2

  1.10. Periodic Relationships

  Practice Question #3

  Practice Question #4

  Practice Question #5

  1.11. Chemical Reactivity

  1.12. Understanding Relationships in the Periodic Table

Module 2: Equations and Stoichiometry

  2.1. Moles

  Practice Question #6

  2.2. Limiting Reagents and Yield

  Practice Question #7

  2.3. Balancing Reactions

  Practice Question #8

  2.4. Aqueous Solutions

Module 3: Phases of Matter

  3.1. Precipitation

  3.2. Gases

3.2.1 Laws of Ideal Gases

3.2.2 KMT

Practice Question #9

3.2.3 Interpretation of KMT

Practice Question #10

3.2.4 Moles

3.2.5 KE and Boltzmann

3.2.6 Graham’s Law

Practice Question #11

3.2.7 Deviations from Ideal Gas Laws

Practice Question #12

  3.3. Liquids and Solids

3.3.1 Kinetic Molecular Comparison of Phases

Practice Question #13

3.3.2 Phase Diagrams

Practice Question #14

3.3.3 Critical Points

3.3.4 Crystal Structures

Practice Question #15

  3.4. Solutions

3.4.1 Ideal Solutions

3.4.2 Concentration

Practice Question #16

3.4.3 Solutions: Colligative Properties

Module 4: Bonding and Intermolecular Forces

  4.1. Chemical Bonding

4.1.1 Types of Bonds

4.1.2 Relationship to Structure and Properties

4.1.3 Polarity of Bonds

4.1.4 More on Polarity

  4.2. Molecular Geometry

  4.3. Bonding and Molecules

4.3.1 Molecular Models

4.3.2 Valence Bond Theory and Hybridization

Practice Question #17

4.3.3 Molecular Orbital Theory

Practice Question #18

  4.4. Effects of Attractions on Properties

  Practice Question #19

Module 5: Equilibrium

  5.1. Equilibrium Constant

  Practice Question #20

  5.2. Quantitative Treatment

5.2.1 Kp and Kc

Practice Question #21

5.2.2 Equilibrium Constants for Reactions

Practice Question #22

Module 6: Kinetics and Thermodynamics

  6.1. State Functions

  Practice Question #23

  6.2. Calorimetry and Heat Capacity

  6.3. Chemical Kinetics

  6.4. Rate Laws

  6.5. Determination of a Rate Law

  Practice Question #24

  6.6. Temperature and Rates

  6.7. Activation Energy

  6.8. Catalyst

  Practice Question #25

  6.9. Mechanisms and Rate-Determining Step

Module 7: Acids and Bases

  7.1. Equilibrium for Acids and Bases

  7.2. Calculations for Weak Acids and Bases

  7.3. Understanding the Mechanism of a Reaction

  Practice Question #26

  Practice Question #27

  7.4. Solubility Equilibrium

  7.5. Acids and Bases: Definitions

  7.6. Coordination Complexes

  7.7. Constants for Complex Ions

  7.8. Common Ion Effect

Module 8: Electrochemistry

  8.1 Oxidation Numbers

  Practice Question #28

  8.2 Electrons in Redox Reactions

  8.3 Electrochemistry

  Practice Question #29

  8.4 Quantitative Electrolysis

Module 9: Descriptive Chemistry

  9.1 Chemistry of the Main Groups and Transition Elements

  9.2 Organic Chemistry

Module 10: Experimental Chemistry

  10.1 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