Chemistry Placement

Introductory courses

The majority of students begin with a general chemistry sequence: either CHEM 161 and 165, General Chemistry I and II, or CHEM 163 and 167, Comprehensive University Chemistry I and II. Any of these courses fulfill the prerequisite for general chemistry in the Chemistry major. Students taking CHEM 161 may be taking chemistry for the first time, perhaps took chemistry as a high school sophomore, or may even have taken AP chemistry but not fully mastered the subject at that level. Students in CHEM 163 will have more recently completed a year or two of chemistry in high school, although motivated students may have last taken chemistry as a high school sophomore if they have a strong math and physics background.

Students with a sufficiently strong background in chemistry may initiate their studies with courses in Organic or Physical Chemistry after demonstrating proficiency on the department’s placement examination. CHEM 174 and 175, Organic Chemistry for First-Year students (I and II), are offered expressly for first-year students.

Placement procedures

1. Placement procedures for General Chemistry courses 

There is no summer online chemistry placement examination. Rather, the Chemistry department reviews the preparation of all first-year students prior to the beginning of the fall term, using test scores, admission records, and information supplied by students through the High School Math and Science Survey. Incoming students should complete the High School Math and Science Survey during the summer before matriculation. The department determines the appropriate general chemistry course for every entering first-year student, either CHEM 161163, or 167. Students will be able to view their initial placement in late August on the “Course Placement 2019” site on Canvas@Yale.

2. On-campus placement exam for Higher-Level courses

First-year students wishing to take Organic or Physical Chemistry (CHEM 174220, or 332), or those wishing to take a higher-level course than initially assigned by means of the Math & Science Survey, are required to take an in-person placement examination.  The placement examination for 2019 will be held on Monday, August 26th from 10:30am to Noon in Sterling Chemistry Laboratory 110. Prior to the examination at 9am there will be an orientation meeting in Sterling Chemistry Laboratory 110 for students who require more information about which science classes to complete in their first year at Yale. Students with placement questions, or those wishing to change their course preference indicated during preregistration, should attend the orientation meeting. For students who cannot complete the placement examination on Monday, August 26th due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts, there will be a make-up placement examination on Tuesday, August 27th from 9:00am to 10:30am in Sterling Chemistry Laboratory 110.

Students are advised to review general chemistry before taking the placement examination. They must bring a nonprogrammable, nongraphing calculator and a #2 pencil with them to the examination; cell phones may not be used.  After the examination, final placements are posted on the “Course Placement 2019” site on Canvas@Yale. For further information about placement and the examination, consult the Calendar for the Opening Days of College Students uncertain about their placement are encouraged to sit for the examination, as it provides the best measure of a student’s readiness to enter the wide variety of courses offered to first-year students.

3. Placement advising

Students who feel they have been placed incorrectly at too high a level may discuss changing their placement with a chemistry placement adviser and do not need to take the examination. Additional sessions with placement advisers are scheduled throughout the first week of the fall term in SCL 248 at times listed in the Calendar for the Opening Days of College.

Permission keys 

Enrollment in any introductory chemistry course requires an electronic permission key. Keys are issued automatically by the department for entering first-year students and are displayed as green key-shaped icons next to the appropriate courses on the online registration page. Students are blocked from enrolling in any chemistry course for which they do not possess a permission key. Students experiencing problems with permission keys should inquire in person at the department office, SCL 248.