Placement Exam Information

Chemistry Placement Exam

To be successful in Chem I (CHEM 121), students need a working knowledge of high school chemistry and of math  through college algebra. In order to help ensure that students in Chem I have the necessary knowledge and skills, all students must take and pass the Chemistry Placement Exam, irrespective of any prior courses they have taken or degrees they have completed. While not a perfect predictor of success, experience has shown that a large proportion of students who fail the Chemistry Placement Exam are unable to complete Chem I successfully. Students who fail the Chemistry Placement Exam should take Preparatory Chemistry (CHEM 100) which has been developed specifically to prepare such students for Chem I. The Chem Placement Exam may be retaken after one school term has elapsed, although this is not recommended. Students will find that Preparatory Chemistry (CHEM 100) will prepare them for Chem I much more effectively than self study.  Students who take CHEM 100 are still required to take and pass the Chemistry Placement Exam.

The Chemistry Placement Exam is a 30 question, multiple choice, computer based test using the Accuplacer program. Half the questions are basic math questions; half are basic high school chemistry questions. Topics covered are: Math: Problems involving fractions, decimal and exponential numbers, ratios, percentages, basic algebra, and slope of the graph of a straight line. Chemistry: Definitions of elements, compounds, mixtures, atoms, molecules, ions and bond types. Problems involving percentages, density, atomic structure, formulas, molecular weight, moles, and reaction stoichiometry are included. To pass the exam a minimum of twenty questions must be answered correctly.

Testing Center

The exam is given at the Testing Centers (Newtown Campus - Rollins Center, Room 100, Lower Campus, Room 108, and Upper Campus, Room 020) at their scheduled testing times (For Testing Schedules visit or call 215-968-8460 for testing information). Please bring a pen or pencil to the exam. Your results are available automatically once you finish the test. A page with your results will be printed.  Please bring this page to your advisor to help in your course registration. The result is added to the other assessment test results in your BCCC file: a "1" in your Chemistry Placement score indicates that you are able to register in Chem 1 (CHEM 121) if you also have completed the MATH 120 pre-requisite, while a "0" indicates that you may register for Preparatory Chemistry (CHEM 100) if you meet the pre- requisites and co-requisites for that course.

It should not be necessary for students to prepare for the exam, nor is it recommended. It is not in the best long term interests of the student to try to "fool" the exam. However, for those who do wish to review their chemistry in preparation for the Chemistry Placement Test, a useful book is A Basic Math Approach to Concepts of Chemistry by Leo Michels, 6th Edition (or current edition),Thompson Publishing, 1996, which is available for purchase in the BCCC Bookstore. The following sections of the book are most directly applicable to the Chemistry Placement Exam, but do not necessarily cover all the math questions.

  • Unit 1, All: Whole Numbers and Decimals
  • Unit 2, All: Signed Numbers
  • Unit 3, Parts 1-3: Powers of Ten
  • Unit 4, Part 4: Dimensional Analysis
  • Unit 5, Parts 1-6: The Metric System and Density
  • Unit 6, All: The Division and Properties of Matter
  • Unit 7, Parts 1, 2, 5: Subatomic Particles & Ion Formation
  • Unit 8, Part 3: The Formula of a Compound
  • Unit 9, Parts 1-3: Naming Binary and Ternary Compounds
  • Unit 10, Parts 1 & 2: Balancing Equations by Inspection
  • Unit 11, Parts 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6: Weight Relations in Chemistry
  • Unit 12, Parts 1, & 2: Mole/mole & More Complicated Stoichiometry Calculations
  • Unit 13 Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Problems 1-26): Concentrations of Solutions