Chemistry Placement

For a video which provides information for first-year students about the Chemistry Placement and which courses are appropriate for them please see the Chemistry Orientation Video.

Introductory courses

1. General Chemistry Courses

The majority of students begin with a two-semester General Chemistry sequence: either CHEM 161 (fall) and 165 (spring), General Chemistry I and II, or CHEM 163 (fall) and 167 (spring), Advanced University Chemistry I and II. Each two-semester sequence of courses fulfills the prerequisite for General Chemistry in the Chemistry major and other majors on campus (such as biology), as well as for pre-medical requirements. Students enrolled in CHEM 161 and 165 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 enrolled in CHEM 163 and 167 will have more recently completed a year or two of chemistry in high school, and have a strong math and physics background. Typically, a student who starts in CHEM 163 will subsequently complete CHEM 167, while, a student who starts in CHEM 161 will subsequently complete CHEM 165. (Departmental permission is required to switch between the sequences at the start of spring term.) Only students who have placed into CHEM 163 are permitted to take this course, while any student can enroll in CHEM 161. Nevertheless, the Chemistry Department does not recommend that students with a strong background in chemistry complete CHEM 161.

2. Higher-Level Courses

Students with a sufficiently strong background in chemistry may place out of General Chemistry and 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 incoming students, with the vast majority of individuals who start in a higher-level course engaging CHEM 174. First-year students who complete CHEM 174, CHEM 220, or CHEM 332 (and earn a grade of B or above) receive two acceleration credits for General Chemistry, which can be used to satisfy the General Chemistry prerequisite in the Chemistry major and other majors on campus (such as biology), as well as for pre-medical requirements. For more information on acceleration credits see:

3. Advising for First-Year Chemistry

Students with questions relating to first-year chemistry should send an e-mail to:

Placement procedures

1. Placement Procedures for General Chemistry Courses 

There is no summer online chemistry placement examination for General Chemistry courses. 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 as soon as possible during the summer before matriculation. The department determines the appropriate general chemistry course for every entering first-year student, either CHEM 161 or 163. Students will be able to view their placement in early August on the “Course Placement 2020” site found at Canvas@Yale.

If a student initially placed in CHEM 161 wants to complete CHEM 163 they will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in an online placement exam. Any student in this situation should e-mail after placement results have been issued but before 5 pm on Friday, August 7.

2. On-line Placement Exam for Higher-Level Courses

First-year students wishing to take Organic or Physical Chemistry (CHEM 174220, or 332) are required to demonstrate their proficiency by completing an online placement exam. Typically, only individuals who have scored a 5 on the AP Chemistry exam (or equivalent) and have a strong background in math and physics will start their studies in a higher-level course. Nevertheless, any student is able to take the online placement exam. Anyone uncertain about their preparation is 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 members of the first-year class.

The online placement exam is a closed book and timed (55 min) multiple-choice test, which students can engage anytime between Wednesday, July 15th (8:00am EST) and Friday, July 31st (5:00pm EST). A standard (non-graphing) calculator is allowed. Students are advised to review general chemistry before undertaking the placement examination.

To be added to the placement-exam roster and to receive additional instructions, please click the following hyperlink:

After the examination, final placements are posted on the “Course Placement 2020” site found at Canvas@Yale. This information is expected to appear in early August.

3. Placement Advising

Students with questions relating to their placement should send an e-mail to:

Permission Keys 

Enrollment in CHEM 163 or CHEM 174 through the Yale Online Course System requires an electronic permission key. Keys are issued automatically after placement has been completed 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 experiencing problems with permission keys should email

Introductory Laboratory Courses

Chemistry laboratory courses are separate to chemistry lecture courses and do not need to be completed simultaneously. Nevertheless, there are pedagogical advantages to engaging lecture and laboratory courses simultaneously. Regardless of whether a student is taking CHEM 161 & 165 or CHEM 163 & 167, there is only one sequence of General Chemistry laboratory. All students complete CHEM 134L (General Chemistry Laboratory I) and CHEM 136L (General Chemistry Laboratory II), each of which counts as 0.5 credits towards Yale College graduation.

Similarly, there is only one sequence of Organic Chemistry laboratory. Regardless of whether a student is taking CHEM 174 & 175 or CHEM 220221, all students complete CHEM 223L (Organic Chemistry Laboratory I) and CHEM 223L (Organic Chemistry Laboratory II), each of which counts as 0.5 credits towards Yale College graduation. A first-year student who places into CHEM 174 also places out of the General Chemistry laboratory sequence and should start their laboratory studies by engaging Organic Chemistry laboratory.

Students starting their studies in CHEM 332 are encouraged to contact the Chemistry Director of Undergraduate Studies (via to determine an appropriate laboratory class.