AP Sequence and Timing

Here’s the thing. Both sequence and timing are going to be largely personal decision, based upon local circumstances such as your own schedule, unique school schedules, the type of students you have, and a multitude of other factors. It’s really impossible to give specific, meaningful advice on these matters, but I’ll offer some general pointers, and then a notes about some of my circumstances in two separate schools that might help to shape some of your decisions.

1. Build the schedule by working backwards from the exam date, obviously including all of the pep-rallies, days off, religious holidays etc.
2. I strongly suggest building in review time. I like to have 4 weeks, you may feel that you need less, or perhaps even want less, but for me this is crucial to my success.
3. STICK TO the schedule. NEVER, EVER, EVER let the students dictate the pace of the class. EVER. It is impossible to emphasize this enough. If the kids think the pace is too fast then they are in the WRONG class. Do NOT change the class to meet them, they need to rise to the external standard that IS AP chemistry.
4. Whilst fulfilling my audited syllabus to the best of my ability, I always de-emphasize labs since I don’t believe that they add value in terms of preparing kids to get high scores on the AP exam, which is my only goal.

Here are two sequences with approx. timings that may help to guide you. Neither are necessarily philosophy driven, rather they are driven by necessity, and the individual circumstances mentioned above.
Remember, the numbers and letters refer to the 2013-2019 CED, when the curriculum was divided into six, Big Ideas.


Private, highly selective school, where AP chemistry was taught almost exclusively to sophomores with ZERO prior chemistry course.

Mid August – Mid December, Semester 1
Three week (14 day) Jan Semester, Jan Term, where the students ONLY do AP chem, ALL day
Last week in Jan – first week in May, Semester 2

The pattern within the first and second semester is a seven day rotation, with me meeting the AP kids six times out of every seven days. Four 70 minute periods, and two 110 minute periods.

1st Semester

00 ABC
00 D
01 ADE
01 B
01 C
03 A
03 B
02 A
02 BCD
03 C

Jan Term


2nd Semester

06 AB
06 C
06 D


Private, much less selective school than circumstance 1, where AP chemistry was taught to a large variety of students, a few with a prior chemistry course, some without, and a mixture of 9th-12th grades. The course was condensed into 3/4 of a school year.


UNIT 1 – approx. 1155 mins

UNIT 2 – approx. 1285 mins

UNIT 3 – approx. 900 mins

UNIT 4 – approx. 470 mins

UNIT 5 – approx. 855 mins

UNIT 6 – approx. 1670 mins

REVIEW. approx. 1540 mins