Chemistry FAQ's

Are you REALLY ready for Chem 1A?...

How do I know if I am ready for CHEM 1A?

You are ready if you have (a) completed MATH 124, and (b) either (1) taken CHEM 3 within the last two years and earned a C or better. OR (2) completed a high school AP chemistry class with a score of 3 or better on the AP Exam. OR (3) passed the Chemistry Challenge Exam.

What should I do if I have never taken Chemistry or have a weak background?

If you have taken MATH 253, take CHEM 3. CHEM 3 is designed to start from the very beginning and help students learn the concepts and skills needed to be successful in CHEM 1A.

I took chemistry within the last two years and earned a solid 'B'. I would like to tackle CHEM 1A directly without spending a semester taking CHEM 3. What do you recommend?

That's understandable and we don't want students taking a class they do not need. However, the last thing YOU want is to be in over your head and do poorly in CHEM 1A. To take Chem 1A you will have to take the Chemistry Challenge Exam. The best preparation for the Chemistry Challenge Exam is to review your algebra and chemistry skills. Also, consider borrowing a Fundamental Chemistry (Chem 3) textbook from the college Library to familiarize yourself with problems you will be tested on.


Chemistry Course Questions...

How much time can a student expect to spend outside of class each week studying for CHEM 1A?

The actual number of hours varies from student to student. Professors do their best to guide students through the chemistry topics in class, but students need to go over these concepts on their own. Students can expect regular homework assignments and the laboratory section may involve time outside the scheduled lab period. Most of our students have questions or want to speak directly with the course professor, which will take time beyond the lecture period.

Why do I have to take CHEM 106 along with CHEM 1A?

Decades of combined experience have shown that very few of our students enrolled in CHEM 1A are prepared to handle the rigor and depth of the course. Simply stated, CHEM 1A is the first really hard course that many science majors are required to take. In the words of one student, "Even when you're prepared, CHEM 1A is overwhelming. The amount of detail you must absorb to see and understand the concepts was a shock." With the extra time afforded by the CHEM 106, professors are able to supply help and support that would not be possible otherwise. Professors can not recall one student who actually took the CHEM 1A/106 course and afterwards said that the CHEM 106 was not helpful to their success. Actually, many students have asked us why there is not a CHEM 107 to accompany CHEM 1B!

Do I need to buy an expensive/complicated calculator?

NO. An inexpensive scientific calculator like the Texas Instruments TI-30 or equivalent is fine.

What course materials will I need for CHEM 1A?

All CHEM 1A sections use the text "Chemistry" 7th edition by Zumdahl and Zumdahl. Each CHEM 1A instructor uses a different laboratory manual, so you will need to check the listing at the Saddleback Bookstore to find the right lab manual. Individual instructors may require additional materials, which will be listed and available at the Saddleback Bookstore.


Chemistry Laboratory Questions...

Why do I need to pay a course laboratory fee?

Most laboratory courses require a fee for materials and supplies. The chemistry lab fee is primarily for the safety goggles and gloves each student is required to wear while in the chemistry laboratory. The safety goggles are splash and impact resistant, and are yours to keep when the class is finished.

If I drop my class after checking into a chemistry locker, have I also fulfilled the "Checkout" process?

NO. Dropping a chemistry class does not complete the locker check out process with the chemistry stockroom. If you drop a course you are still required to check out of your locker with the stockroom by the time of the regularly scheduled check-out period. So, if you drop a chemistry course, be sure to check out a.s.a.p.

What will happen if I do not check out of my chemistry locker?

Failure to check out of your locker with the stockroom (even if you drop the course) by the time of the regularly scheduled check out period will result in a fine. You will also be charged for any missing or broken items. Failure to pay this fine will result in a "HOLD" on your college records and prevent registration, issuance of transcripts, etc., until the fine is paid.

How do I pay a chemistry lab fine and get the "HOLD" taken off my school records?

All payments are processed by the Fiscal Office located in the Administration and Governance Building. We recommend paying in person or by phone to ensure the "HOLD" is removed within the hour. Call (949)582-4870 during the week to pay by phone. Once your payment has been processed, the Fiscal Office will lift the "HOLD" and you will have access to your school records and MySite network.

How can I dispute a chemistry lab fine?

You must write either an email or letter listing the reason(s) as to why the fine should be reversed. Include the title, semester, and professor of the course associated with the fine, as well as your student identification number and contact information. Submit the letter to the stockroom (SM226) during scheduled operating hours or email Your letter will be reviewed to determine whether or not the fine should be reversed, and you will be contacted of the outcome within one week.


Mathematics and Chemistry...

Why do I need MATH 253 for CHEM 3?

Within the first two weeks of CHEM 3, students will be solving single-variable equations. In the final two weeks of CHEM 3 students will be doing operations involving logarithms. Our chemistry courses will have a review of the algebra encountered within the course, but there is not enough time to explain basic math skills properly from the beginning. Algebra is an important part of the language of chemistry. If you want to learn the concepts (Chemistry), you must understand the language they are spoken in (Mathematics).


Career Questions...

What can I do with a degree in chemistry?

Some chemists work on cures for cancer while others monitor the ozone protecting us from the sun. Still others discover new materials to make our homes warmer in the winter, or new textiles to be used in the latest fashions. The knowledge gained through the study of chemistry opens many career pathways. Here are just a few of the careers chosen by chemists: agricultural chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, chemical engineering, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, medical chemistry, oil and petroleum, polymer chemistry, research and development, and textile chemistry. Visit the American Chemical Society website for more information.


More Questions?  We have the answers!

Our collective mission is to help students get from where they are to where they want to be. Please contact any member of our Chemistry Faculty for more information. See our FACULTY webpage for contact information.

You can also review other test preparation guides available at bookstores, or click on the following Chemistry Tutorials for review:

General Chemistry Online: Tutorial, Drill, & Quiz Index

ChemTutor: Numbers & Math Operations

Chemistry Challenge Practice Exam 1

Chemistry Challenge Practice Exam 2