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Overview of General Chemistry Courses

The Department of Chemistry offers several tracks for students depending on their background and aspirations.

Elementary Chemistry, CHEM 1110 – This course is intended for non-STEM majors.  It counts as a part of the Area II requirement for "physical science with lab."  The companion laboratory course, Chem 1110L, is a mandatory co-requisite.

Basics of Chemistry, CHEM 1210 – This course is intended for students who did not take chemistry in high school or who struggled with high school chemistry.  While covering the basics of chemistry is a focus of the course, a great deal of time is also spent learning how to learn on your own and focus on concepts rather than memorizing facts and algorithms.  This course can count toward the Area II physical science requirement.  There is no lab with CHEM 1210.

Freshman Chemistry, CHEM 1211 and 1212 – This is the main general chemistry sequence.  It is a required course for most STEM majors and pre-health students.  The course is taught in a ‘flipped’ style meaning that students must read the textbook before class and come in with a basic understanding of the material.  In class, the instructors will work with the students to build a better understanding of the concepts through interactive questions, activities, and case studies.  Students are expected to focus on the concepts and not on memorizing content and solutions.  The companion laboratory courses, Chem 1211L / 1212L  are mandatory co-requisites.

Advanced Freshman Chemistry – There are two versions of this course.

Which course should I take?

  • "I only need to fulfill the Area II physical science requirement, with a lab."  Take CHEM 1110
  • "I only need to fulfill the Area II physical science requirement, and I don't need a lab."  Take CHEM 1210. 
  • "I didn't take chemistry in high school." Take CHEM 1210. 
  • "I took chemistry in high school but I struggled with it." Take CHEM 1210. 
  • "I took chemistry in high school, did well, and I'm comfortable with introductory concepts of chemistry."  Take CHEM 1211 / 1212. 
  • "I took chemistry in high school, did very well, and want to be an honors student in science or engineering." Take CHEM 1311H / 1312H. 
  • "I took chemistry in high school, did very well, and want to major in chemistry or engineering." Take CHEM 1411 / 1412. 

Math Prerequisite.

If you need to take pre-calculus, MATH 1113, we strongly encourage you to enroll in CHEM 1210 now, and take CHEM 1211 the next semester. 

  • Data from prior years shows that 60% of students who enroll in MATH 1113 and CHEM 1211 in the same semester fail or withdraw from CHEM 1211.
    • Taking MATH 1113 before taking CHEM 1211 improves these numbers
    • Taking MATH 1113 and CHEM 1210, then taking CHEM 1211, has the best student outcome. 

Chemistry Diagnostic Test

The department has prepared a simple diagnostic test that evaluates whether you are ready to take Chemistry 1211.  We encourage all students to take it.

  • The test diagnostic assesses your readiness for college-level freshman chemistry. 
  • It is composed of numerical and conceptual questions. 
  • It is taken online, so there are many ways to ‘cheat’ the test and improve the score. 
  • But why cheat? There really isn’t much point.  The only purpose of this test is to get you into the right class so that you succeed

Why is chemistry so hard?

Most students come from a background where they are shown some facts, or how to work a problem.  They then repeat the lesson as homework.  Finally, they repeat the same knowledge on a test.  Because we can easily look up facts and figures from devices we carry in our pockets, this is no longer "learning." It’s more important to know how to make sense of those facts and figures, and how to use them to solve problems. 

Our instructors help student to understand concepts and apply them to new problems.  We teach in a ‘flipped’ style classroom.  We expect our students to read the course material and work on basic problems before they come to class.  During lecture, we work on problems, activities, and case-studies that illuminate the concepts from the chapter.  Students then work on additional problems to reinforce their understanding of the concepts.  Any student who is struggling with a particular concept has the opportunity to meet with instructors during office hours.

There are three areas that all students need to improve in order to be successful in chemistry and college:

  • Reading. Students need to learn how to actively read a textbook.  Reading and highlighting is just saying “This is important and I need to come back and learn it.”  It is far better to read a section and then write a brief summary.
  • Problem solving. Students should spend time every day working on problems.  They should work simple problems as they’re reading and then move up to more challenging problems as they progress.  They should be prepared to tackle the "hard" problems from the back of the book.  They should not focus on memorizing the solutions, but on the concepts that are used to solve the problem.
  • Time Management.  Students who wait until the week prior to an exam to buckle down and start studying will not succeed.  Cramming is a sure way to fail chemistry (or most college courses, for that matter).  Every student should develop a study plan at the beginning of the semester, then follow the plan through the semester.  Studying in 20-30 minute blocks is more effective than studying for hours.  An hour every day on each class probably translates to less time than cramming for days during the weeks before each exam.

Need More information?

If you would like more information, feel free to email us or schedule an appointment when you are in Athens for orientation.

Dr. Suzanne Ellenberger,


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Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Fax: 706-542-9454

Head of the Department: Prof. Gary Douberly