Preparation for General Chemistry

Who should take Preparation for General Chemistry?

This program is appropriate for students of all levels who wish to get a head start in College Chemistry (CHM 141), a class required for many undergraduate majors. Since the program is self-paced, students with a strong background, especially in algebra, should be able to move through the materials quickly, focusing on specific areas where review is needed. Students who did not have a comprehensive chemistry course in high school, who took chemistry early on in high school and need a refresher, or who struggled through chemistry, will use this preparatory program to review key concepts that will help lay a good foundation for their college coursework. This program is intended for students who wish to develop and enrich their own learning.

What is ALEKS?

ALEKS is an artificial intelligence based teaching tool that is available to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from virtually any computer with access to the web. It uses adaptive questioning to quickly assess and accurately determine what students know and don't know (or don't remember!) in general chemistry and its prerequisites from high school, through a personalized interactive assessment (this initial assessment can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes). It reports the results of this assessment in a pie graph and then provides instruction and immediate feedback on the topics that an individual student is most ready to learn (in "Learning Mode"). The more the pie is filled, the more that student has mastered for that particular area.

Each student's experience with ALEKS will be slightly different since it only asks students to complete learning tasks that they need, not what anyone else in the program needs. Since students often overestimate their readiness for success in CHM 141, achieving a high-level of mastery in ALEKS will allow students to gain the foundation necessary to be successful.

It is important to do the initial assessment carefully and honestly. If the initial assessment is done carelessly or answered randomly, the students will waste time later because ALEKS will force them to work through material the student already knows and doesn't really need to review. Also, there is no advantage to consulting outside resources (textbook, the internet, a friend, etc.) to improve the assessment score. Students should always read and follow the onscreen instructions very carefully and do the work on their own. Please visit the ALEKS site for more information.

How long is the program?

Preparation for General Chemistry begins (officially) on Jan 2, 2018. Since the program is self-paced, there is no official time limit; students can begin anytime on or after Jan 2. The program officially ends on Jan 27; but again, since it is self-paced students can complete the work at any point on or before Jan 27. The exact time frame will depend on how much time a student spends on ALEKS each day or week.

Expectations: most students should spend about 13–14 hours every week working in ALEKS. If the work is put off, it will require much more time later. If students have others do the work for them, it will take them more time because ALEKS will reteach topics the student doesn't need. Students should work on ALEKS for no more than 1–2 hours in a sitting. Ideally, students would spend just under two hours every day working on ALEKS to get the most benefit.

What material will be covered in Preparation for General Chemistry?

The program will focus on reviewing the material necessary to succeed in CHM 141. Topics include: (1) foundation skills (mathematical operations, fractions and decimals, exponents, algebraic expressions and equations, graphing relationships), (2) measurement (scientific notation, SI units and conversion, measurement math and uncertainty, significant figures), (3) matter (mass/volume/density, different forms of matter, interpreting the periodic table, atomic structure, ions), (4) chemical compounds (writing chemical formulae, binary ionic compounds, polyatomic ions, nomenclature), (5) fundamentals of stoichiometry (moles and molar mass, mole ratios, writing and balancing chemical equations, solution stoichiometry).

How much does it cost?

This non-credit program has a $350 fee, which includes the cost of ALEKS (12 weeks of access). Since the program is only 3 weeks long, registered students will have access to ALEKS through their first 9 weeks of CHM 141 in the Spring. This means students will continue to have access to the course materials and practice problems selected to ready them for CHM 141.

How do students register?

Registering for Preparation for General Chemistry is easy and can be done at any point on or before 5 pm, Tuesday, Dec. 19. Minimum enrollment of 23 students must be met for the course to be offered. You will be notified if enrollment is not met and will be refunded the course fee.

Once the student is registered, they will visit the ALEKS sign-up site and enter the course code that will provided by their Instructor by Jan 1. Students should verify the course name ("Preparation for College Chemistry") and Instructor (Jessa) and press continue. After creating an account, students will complete a short tutorial and then will be ready to learn!


Any questions about this non-credit program can be directed to Professor Jessa at