General Chemistry Options

University of Virginia Chemistry Department

Advising document for students interested in taking General Chemistry

Chemistry is an interesting and captivating subject, and it is important that you think about your levels of preparation, interest and motivation before you register for classes.  Given the challenges of learning chemistry, it is also important for you to adjust your overall schedule so that you will have adequate time to focus on the course.  The following FAQ is designed to help you make the best decisions about what chemistry course is right for you and when to take that course.

Who should take General Chemistry at UVA and when should they take it?

Students who are interested in majoring in sciences or engineering usually take general chemistry in their first year of college.  Students who do not plan to major in science, but are interested in fulfilling University requirements or for pre-health careers, can take general chemistry in their first or second year, and then go on to take Organic Chemistry in the subsequent year (if needed).  Students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam or a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB exam can receive credit for CHEM 1410 and 1420.  These students then have the following options:  1) just taking the General Chemistry Labs (CHEM 1411 and 1421), 2) taking CHEM 1410 and 1420 again. If you have AP, IB, or dual enrollment credit for these courses, taking them at UVA falls under the College of Arts and Sciences repeat policy, or 3) taking CHEM 1810.  AP credit is never given for labs.  Students who have never taken chemistry should consider enrolling in CHEM 1400.  If you enroll in CHEM 1410, see the recommendations regarding course resources and extra help described below.

What can I expect from General Chemistry?

There are 2 tracks of general chemistry: the 1410 series and the 1810 series.  In both tracks, you will explore chemical concepts and the significance of the chemical discipline while developing analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Both tracks require a dedicated and motivated student in order to be successful.  The differences between the two options are presented below.

  • The 1410 Series: This is the main offering of general chemistry.  This course (CHEM 1410) is taken by students interested in the physical and biological sciences, pre-medical studies, as well as several engineering fields. This course is taught two days a week where students will meet on Monday or Tuesday for 75 minutes with all students enrolled and then meet in three groups of 99 students on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for another 75 minutes. No discussion section is required. Students enrolled will learn about electronic structure, bonding, chemical properties, and reactivity through a problem based approach. Reactions that have exciting impacts on our lives will be investigated through the lens of introductory chemistry. Students will work as individuals and in groups to explore the atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions involved in these reactions. Completion of high school chemistry is assumed; however, assessment of pre-knowledge and resources will be provided for all content needed for the course. For all sections of CHEM 1410 there will be teaching assistants available in the Gilmer Academic Commons to offer help with concepts and calculations.  Additionally, professors hold several office hours during the week; schedules will be posted on Collab during the first week of classes.
  • The 1810 Series: The 800 series is designed as an accelerated group of courses for students who are considering majoring in a science or following a pre-health track and have a strong background in chemistry (AP, IB, dual enrollment, etc.). As with the 400 series, topics first semester include atomic structure, molecular structure, and foundations of chemical reactions, but are taught in greater depth than in the 400s series. Spectroscopy and advanced chemical structure topics are also explored. After CHEM 1810, topics in the two series diverge, but it is possible to transfer from the 800s to the 400 series after the first semester. Exams in the 800s series are short essay format, and group problem-solving methods are heavily utilized. If you complete all four semesters of either the 400 or 800 series, you will have a good preparation for graduate school or medical school (e.g. MCATs or GREs).
  • A separate introductory Chemistry course, CHEM 1400, is offered in the spring for students who have not taken a high school chemistry course.  Students who enroll in CHEM 1400 typically are not science majors, but this course can prepare students who are interested in pursuing subsequent chemistry courses, including those required in the pre-medical curriculum.

Students who have any concerns on which track is right for them are encouraged to talk to Professor Harman (wdh5z@virginia.edu), Professor Serbulea (lls3s@virginia.edu), or Professor Welch (kdw9e@virginia.edu). 

Please send inquires to Cindy Knight csk3a@virginia.edu or (434) 924-7995.

AP Credit
IB Credit
Frequently Asked Questions