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Preparing to study chemistry

A summary of math and science knowledge to get you ready for learning chemistry on Khan Academy!

Welcome to the world of chemistry!

In this article, we'll summarize some fundamental concepts that will be helpful as you learn introductory or AP Chemistry. If some of the topics look unfamiliar or you don't remember them anymore, don't worry! We've provided links to help you learn or review the material on Khan Academy as you go. Remember, you can learn anything!


General skills

  • Properties of exponents and properties of logarithms: Being comfortable with using logs and exponents will be helpful for acid and bases, kinetics, and equilibrium.
  • Graphing slope-intercept form: Part of the fun of chemistry is running your own experiments. Once you obtain experimental data, you'll need to know how to visualize and interpret the results.
  • Quadratic formula: Knowing how to set up and solve quadratic equations will come in handy when you learn about chemical equilibrium.

Science-specific skills

  • Scientific notation: Chemists are lazy and don't want to write out all the zeros in numbers like 300,000,000 or 0.0000057, so we instead write these numbers using scientific notation. Understanding scientific notation will let you skip writing out all those zeros, too!
  • Dimensional analysis: My number two rule for learning chemistry is to always always check the units. Dimensional analysis is a helpful tool for making sure the units of different quantities make sense in any scientific calculation.
  • Significant figures: Scientists use significant figures to aggravate chemistry students (just kidding!) and communicate the precision of a measurement or calculation.

Physics and biology

  • The scientific method: Scientists are constantly uncovering new information about how the world works. The scientific method helps us ask questions about our observations and design experiments to test possible explanations.
  • Coulomb’s law: The force between charged particles can be used to explain the properties of matter down to the subatomic level.

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