General Chemistry Advising – Fall 2018

Welcome to the Boston University Chemistry Department’s advising page for freshmen chemistry!

We in the Chemistry Department truly love to teach chemistry, and we are very excited to have you join us!

Our goal here is to help you and your advisor select the general chemistry course that is best for you, and then to guide you through online preparation so that you will be well prepared to begin your course work this fall. (This page has been updated for Fall 2018.)

Our general chemistry courses

We currently offer three different year-long general chemistry courses, differing according to assumed experience and student goals.

  • CH101/102 assumes no prior chemistry knowledge, just two years of high school algebra and general science.
  • CH109/110 assumes two years of high school algebra and at least one year of high school chemistry. It is designed specifically for BMB students, biochemistry majors, chemistry majors,  and students with a strong interest in chemistry. CH109 starts where high school chemistry leaves off, so students will be expected to recall their high school chemistry material.
  • CH111/112 is for students with a very strong background in chemistry (two years of high school chemistry / AP 5 is very common).  Advanced placement in calculus or simultaneous registration in MA123 Calculus 1 is required to take this course. This course is for students intending to major in chemistry, chemistry:biochemistry, or who are really passionate about chemistry. CH111 and CH112 are designed for students with substantial prior experience, and a strong interest in a rigorous course well-beyond regular general chemistry.
    Note: students interested in taking CH111 (and CH181) in Fall 2018 must complete their summer ALEKS work before August 10th.

The detailed descriptions of these courses are here.

Preparing for your course

From these descriptions you will likely have an initial idea of which of the three courses is most suited to your goals. Students taking CH101 should consult the CH101 course website for details about ALEKS use in CH101.

For students in CH109 and CH111 (and CH181): to help you be well-prepared to succeed in your chosen course, we require that you complete online general chemistry tutoring based on ALEKS, the web-based artificially-intelligent assessment and learning system.

ALEKS will …

  • rapidly identify any important gaps in high-school math and science preparation,
  • efficiently assist you to eliminate those gaps through guided self-study, and
  • help you and your advisors refine your selection of the chemistry course most appropriate for you.

It is imperative that you begin your ALEKS work as soon as you are able.  This will give you the maximum time to prepare for General Chemistry this fall.  Additionally, students interested in registering for CH111 and CH181 in the fall must complete ALEKS by August 10th.

ALEKS preparation

All students enrolled in any General Chemistry course will use ALEKS: students in CH109 and CH111 (and CH181) use it over the summer for placement and preparation, and students in CH101 will use ALEKS throughout the academic year).  Though each student’s experience with ALEKS will be slightly different as ALEKS adapts, how ALEKS works will be the same for all students.

  1. Purchase and Register for ALEKS (CH109 and CH111 students do not have to purchase a license if they complete ALEKS in less than 2 weeks)
  2. ALEKS tutorial (~10min) – short tutorial on how to input your answers.
  3. ALEKS initial assessment (~90min) – ALEKS learning what you know currently (there is no *grade* associated with your initial knowledge).
  4. ALEKS learning mode – ALEKS teaches you what you need to prepare for General Chemistry.
  5. ALEKS assessment – New assessment to see how much you have learned.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you complete your ALEKS work (for CH111/109 over the summer, for CH101 during the school year).  Note: you will not necessarily be given additional assessments (in addition to the initial assessment).

How each of these steps work is detailed on the ALEKS page.  Note: make sure to sign up for the appropriate ALEKS course based on your intended fall chemistry course.  More details can be found detailed on the ALEKS page.

It is imperative that you begin your ALEKS work as soon as you are able.  This will give you the maximum time to prepare for General Chemistry this fall. Students in CH109 need to work through the summer objective before the start of classes, and students interested in registering for CH111 and CH181 in the fall must complete ALEKS by August 10th.


If you have a question about how to interpret your ALEKS score, what learning objectives you need to master, or about the chemistry courses offered at Boston University, please see the frequently asked questions page.