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College Chemistry Topics

College Chemistry Topics


College chemistry is a comprehensive overview of general chemistry topics, plus usually a little organic chemistry and biochemistry. This is an index of college chemistry topics which you can use to help study college chemistry or to get an idea of what to expect if you're thinking about taking college chem.

Units & Measurement

Girl age 10-12 reads the meniscus level on a beaker.
Stockbyte, Getty Images
Chemistry is a science that relies on experimentation, which often involves taking measurements and performing calculations based on those measurements. This means it is important to be familiar with the units of measurement and ways of converting between different units.

Atomic & Molecular Structure

This is a diagram of a helium atom, which has 2 protons, 2 neutrons, and 2 electrons.
Svdmolen/Jeanot, Public Domain
Atoms are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons form the nucleus of the atom, with electrons moving around this core. The study of atomic structure involves understanding the composition of atoms, isotopes, and ions.

Periodic Table

This is a closeup of the periodic table of the elements, in blue.
Don Farrall, Getty Images
The periodic table is a systematic way of arranging the chemical elements. The elements exhibit periodic properties that can be used to predict their characteristics, including the likelihood they will form compounds and participate in chemical reactions.

Chemical Bonding

Ionic Bond
Wikipedia GNU Free Documentation License
Atoms and molecules join together through ionic and covalent bonding. Related topics include electronegativity, oxidation numbers, and Lewis electron dot structures.


Eyup Salman, stock.xchng
Electrochemistry primarily is concerned with oxidation-reduction reactions or redox reactions. These reactions produce ions and may be harnessed to produce electrodes and batteries. Electrochemistry is used to predict whether or not a reaction will occur and in which direction electrons will flow.

Equations & Stoichiometry

Chemistry calculations can be challenging.
Jeffrey Coolidge, Getty Images
It's important to learn how to balance equations and about the factors that affect the rate and yield of chemical reactions.

Solutions & Mixtures

Chemistry Demonstration
George Doyle, Getty Images
Part of General Chemistry is learning how to calculation concentration and about different types of solutions and mixtures. This category includes topics such as colloids, suspensions, and dilutions.

Acids, Bases and pH

Litmus paper is a type of pH paper that is used to test the acidity of water-based liquids.
David Gould, Getty Images
Acids, bases and pH are concepts that apply to aqueous solutions (solutions in water). pH refers to the hydrogen ion concentration or ability of a species to donate/accept protons or electrons. Acids and bases reflect the relative availability of hydrogen ions or proton/electron donors or acceptors. Acid-base reactions are extremely important in living cells and industrial processes.

Thermochemistry/Physical Chemistry

A thermometer is used to measure temperature.
Menchi, Wikipedia Commons
Thermochemistry is the area of general chemistry that relates to thermodynamics. It is sometimes called Physical Chemistry. Thermochemistry involves the concepts of entropy, enthalpy, Gibbs free energy, standard state conditions, and energy diagrams. It also includes the study of temperature, calorimetry, endothermic reactions, and exothermic reactions.

Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry

This is a space-filling model of DNA.
Ben Mills
Organic carbon compounds are especially important to study because these are the compounds associated with life. Biochemistry looks at different types of biomolecules and how organisms build and use them. Organic chemistry is a broader discipline which includes the study of chemicals that can be made from organic molecules.

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