Below are some of the most common questions that the Chemistry department receives from students regarding General Chemistry courses and choosing the right course.

Q: I am uncertain about which course I should be taking, how can I get some guidance?

A: There are a number of resources that you can use to help determine the right course for you:

  • Start by looking at your major’s requirements — if you are considering a number of majors, make sure to take a General Chemistry course that will work for all of the majors you are considering.
  • Read the brief descriptions of the courses and note the differences in expected levels of preparation.
  • If you are still uncertain about your choice in course, speak with an academic advisor from your department.
  • If after you have looked through all of these resources and spoken with your advisor, you are still in doubt about what course you should be taking, you can send a detailed email to to get more guidance. Make sure that your email includes your previous chemistry, math, and physics experience; your major or the majors that you are considering; and your level of comfort with fundamental chemistry concepts.

Q: I want to take CH111, but it won’t let me register for the course. What should I do?

A: Unfortunately, CH111 will not be offered in the Fall of 2023. Students who were considering CH111 should instead register for CH109.

Q: Do I need to take a placement exam for CH109?

A: No. All Chemistry and BMB majors should register for CH109. Additionally, students with substantive prior experience in chemistry or a strong interest in molecular science should consider taking CH109.

Q: I am a pre-medical student – what course should I be taking?

A: All of the two-semester general chemistry sequences (CH101/102, CH109/110, and CH111/112) are acceptable for pre-health students. That said, we strongly recommend that all students discuss their course choices with their advisor.

Q: I am a pre-medical student and BMB (or Chemistry) major, and the pre-health office said I should take CH101. Is that right?

A: No, all BMB and Chemistry majors should take CH109.

Q: The specific section that I want to take is full. Are there waiting lists for general chemistry courses?

A: The Chemistry department does not have waiting lists for its courses. That said, many of the courses do have overflow/holding sections (LX, BX, MX, and/or PX) to accommodate more students. For example, if you are trying to take CH109 but all of the labs that work with your schedule are full, then you could register for CH109 LX (the lab holding section); or, if you find that all of the CH101 pre-lab lectures are either full or conflict with your schedule, then you could register for CH101 PX. Before you register for one of these second, please note the following important information:

  • Signing up for one of the holding sections (LX, BX, MX, or PX) does not guarantee you a spot in a section of your choice. Rather, it signified a commitment on the part of the chemistry department to do its best to find you a spot in one of the sections that works with your schedule. While we would like to accommodate all students, space in sections is limited by room capacities and other factors.
  • It is always best to register for an open section (that still has seats in it) than to rely on overflow sections, since you will not necessarily be given options for what section you are placed into. Rather, your academic schedule will be used to assign you to a section that works for your schedule.
  • Make sure that at least one of the full sections would fit your schedule. If none of the sections of the course fit your schedule, then registering for the overflow section will not help you and you will not be able to take the course.
  • If all of the overflow sections are full, or the course that you are trying to register for does not have an overflow section (and is full), then please send an email to with the details about what course your are trying to register for.

Q: I signed up for an overflow lab (CH101 MX, CH109 LX, or CH111 LX), discussion (BX), or pre-lab (PX) section. Can I choose when this section will meet?

A: These are not actual sections of the courses. Rather, they are overflow/holding sections that assist the Chemistry department in accommodating as many students as possible in their courses. Students in these sections will be assigned to another existing (but full) section during first week of classes (please do not email your instructor about getting assigned to a section before the first week of classes).

If you are registering for one of these sections, make sure that at least one of the full sections would fit your schedule. If none of the sections of the course fit your schedule, then registering for the overflow section will not help you and you will not be able to take the course.

Q: I took AP Chemistry in high school. Can I skip General Chemistry?

A: The short answer is: probably not. The long answer is: students with a score of 4 or 5 on AP Chemistry will receive credit for CH131 or CH171. If your major only requires one of these courses, and you are not considering pre-health, then you would not need to take General Chemistry. That said, most majors that require General Chemistry require students to complete two semesters of general chemistry (CH101/102, CH109/110, or CH111/112). To see what the minimum General Chemistry requirements are for your major, click here.

Q: I took AP Chemistry in high school. Which is the right General Chemistry course for me to take?

A: Doing well (4 or 5) on AP Chemistry might be a helpful indicator for choosing your General Chemistry course. In reality, it isn’t your AP score that is the most helpful in choosing the right course; rather, your level of recall and confidence with the material is the most important factor when choosing your General Chemistry course. CH101 assumes little previous chemistry experience, so it is appropriate for students who are not confident that they can apply the skills from AP Chemistry. CH109 assumes that students have completed one year of high school chemistry. If you are confident in your proficiency with the fundamentals of chemistry, then you should consider taking CH109.

Q: I didn’t take Chemistry is high school, but a really want to be a chemistry or biochemistry (BMB) major. What course should I take?

A: The minimum General Chemistry requirement for BMB or Chemistry majors is CH109/110. You will get all of the support that you need in these classes to master the material and succeed in your major.

Q: I took Chemistry is high school, but I really don’t feel confident that I remember the material. What course should I take if I want to be a chemistry or biochemistry (BMB) major?

A: The minimum General Chemistry requirement for BMB or Chemistry majors is CH109/110. You will get all of the support that you need in these classes to master the material and succeed in your major.

Q: I took “college-equivalent” general chemistry at my high school (taught at the high school). Do I need to take General Chemistry?

A: In our experience, high school courses (even those listed as college-equivalent and taught at a high-level of rigor) cannot replace college-level first-year chemistry, and students who skip this find themselves at a disadvantage later on (especially in the laboratory). For these students who will need to take other chemistry at BU (Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, etc.), we recommend taking CH109.

Q: I took general chemistry at a college while I was in high school (taught at the college). Do I need to take General Chemistry?

A: If you took chemistry at a local college, then it may transfer in to BU. Depending on the rigor of the course, it may count as your first semester of chemistry. To see if it will count, send your course syllabus, lab syllabus and transfer credit equivalency form to Please note: if you are a BMB or Chemistry major, then the courses will not count for your major requirements; as such, we highly recommended that you take general chemistry at Boston University (CH109) to prepare you for future coursework down the road.

Q: I’m majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB), Chemistry, or Chemistry:Biochemistry, and I’m concerned that I don’t have a strong enough background to start in CH109. What should I do?

A: There is a third option for students to complete the chemistry major: CH101, CH102, and CH201. This is not the preferred pathway, and we highly recommend that Chemistry or BMB majors start at least in CH109. The course faculty for CH109 are available in office hours to help all dedicated students work to learn the material. Additionally, there are resources available to help you prepare over the summer. That said, if you feel strongly about taking CH101 then please speak with the chemistry advisor ( to talk about taking CH101.

Q: Can I take CH101 (General Chemistry 1) in the fall and CH110 (Advanced General Chemistry 2) in the spring?

A: No. Students are not permitted to move between the course sequences. As such, students who start in CH101 will need to continue to CH102, and students who start in CH109 will need to continue to CH110 or CH112.

Q: What happens if I realize quickly that I signed up for the wrong general chemistry course?

A: Students are allowed to “add” new courses during the first week of classes at Boston University. As a result, if you realize in that time that you are signed up for the wrong class, then you can switch to the correct course. After the “add” period closes, you can still drop courses, but you will not be able to add another course. Important note: it is highly preferable that you do your best to register for the right class and not rely on switching during that first week. Students who miss the first week a class can find it difficult to catch up. We recommend using the resources on this site to help you to try to figure out the best class for you so that you won’t have to switch.

Q: How large are the General Chemistry classes?

A: That depends on the course and course component. CH101 generally has around 800 students in the fall semester, and CH109 has around 160 students. All of the courses have a lecture, pre-lab, lab, and discussion section. The labs and discussion sections are generally kept to below 20 students.

Q: I have a question about the materials (textbooks, etc.) that I need for my courses.  Where do I get information about these materials?

A: Faculty will provide a list of books and materials to the BU bookstore during the month of August.  Once the list has been submitted, visit the bookstore website to see what materials are needed for each of your courses.  Some faculty will email their classes before the semester begins with further information and post the material on their course websites.

Q: Textbooks are very expensive – do I need to buy the textbooks for my courses (CH101, CH109, or CH111)?

A: All questions that are course-specific should be directed to the faculty teaching those courses.  That said, all course materials are required for these courses.

Still searching for answers? For general advising questions or about what courses you should be taking, please re-read the pages on this site, and then send email to  Send course-specific questions to your course instructor.