What if you never took the placement exam and want to take a chemistry course? It’s not too late! Simply find the placement exam on Canvas for your class year and (1) take the Chemistry placement exam and (2) notify Professor Michael Danahy (firstname.lastname@example.org) that you have completed the exam. Your placement recommendation should be made available within one or two days of reporting to us that you have completed the exam.
Information for First-Year Students Interested in Chemistry Courses
Whether you intend to major in chemistry or need to complete chemistry courses for another major or for pre-health requirements, we offer the following steps to get started with an appropriate first chemistry course.
Overview of placements and course options: Chemistry Placement Guide 2022
Chemistry 1091 (Fall only) is the first semester of a two-semester general chemistry sequence. It covers the same content as Chemistry 1101/1102 with additional instruction focused on developing quantitative reasoning and problem-solving skills in the context of learning chemistry. Students enrolled in Chemistry 1091 would go on to take Chemistry 1092 in the spring.
Chemistry 1101 (Offered Fall only) is the first semester of a two-semester general chemistry sequence. It does not assume a rigorous high school background and is taken by students wishing to strengthen their foundation in chemistry. It also serves non-science majors who would like to take an introductory laboratory science course. Students enrolled in Chemistry 1101 would go on to take Chemistry 1102 in the spring.
Chemistry 1109 (Offered Fall and Spring) is the introductory chemistry course taken by the majority of students entering Bowdoin. This course is intended for students who have a reasonably strong background in high school chemistry. For more information about course content and background knowledge that is assumed consult the Introductory Chemistry Course Content Guide.
This recommendation is targeted at students with outstanding high-school chemistry preparation. Depending on the Chemistry placement exam results, students with scores of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam (or comparable IB scores), and others with advanced backgrounds in chemistry, may bypass CHEM 1109 for an appropriate 2000-level chemistry course. These course options are CHEM 2250 (Organic Chemistry I) and CHEM 2100 (Chemical Analysis) in the fall semester, CHEM 2400 (Inorganic Chemistry; offered every spring) and Environmental Chemistry (CHEM 2050; offered in alternate even years in the spring – next offering in 2024). While CHEM 2510 (spring) and 2520 (fall) are also entry points, student must also meet prerequisites in Math and Physics to enroll in these courses. Students are encouraged to contact Profs. Broene, Danahy, or Gorske about CHEM 2250. Students interested in CHEM 2100 are strongly encouraged to contact Prof. Stemmler before enrolling. Students can contact Prof. Ortoll-Bloch to discuss CHEM 2400, Prof. Takematsu to discuss CHEM 2510 or CHEM 2520.
Students who start and complete a 2000-level chemistry course are not permitted to register concurrently or in a future semester in an introductory (1091/1092 or 1101/1102) or general chemistry (1109) chemistry course.
Students should consult with a chemistry faculty member at the Academic Fair or at some other time during Orientation regarding enrollment in an appropriate advanced level course. In the past, students who enrolled in CHEM 1109—as opposed to starting with the recommended 2000 level course—found this course to be a repetition of their previous course work and not challenging. Conversely, students who were recommended for, and chose to enroll in, 2000-level Chemistry courses during their first year were typically very successful in those courses. The most common 2000-level course for first year students is CHEM 2250.
The CHEM 2000-level/1109 placement indicates that a student is on the border between two entry points to the chemistry curriculum. Students should consult with Professor Danahy, Professor Stemmler, or course instructors to ensure a proper entry to the curriculum but are permitted to enroll in either course. In the past, students who enrolled in CHEM 1109—as opposed to starting with the recommended 2000 level course—found this course to be a repetition of their previous course work and not challenging. Conversely, students who were recommended for, and chose to enroll in, 2000-level Chemistry courses during their first year were typically very successful in those courses. The most common 2000-level course for first year students is CHEM 2250.
Students who placed into MATH 1050/1051 or PHYS 1093/CHEM 1093 (Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in the Physical Sciences) need not take both and are strongly recommended to enroll in PHYS 1093/CHEM 1093 as this course provides the appropriate grounding for 1000-level science courses, as well as MATH 1600.