Chemistry Placement Exam

The Chemistry Placement Exam is a 30-minute, 25 question multiple-choice exam intended to assess students’ readiness for a college-level course in General Chemistry.

The test covers selected basic concepts found in a standard high school chemistry course, as well as mathematical and problem solving skills that are important for introductory chemistry.

The test is designed to identify students who would be at-risk in the introductory course at USC, CHEM-105a: General Chemistry.

Based on the results of the Chemistry Placement Exam, students may be directed to:

  • Register for and complete CHEM-102: The Molecular World as a prerequisite before enrolling in CHEM-105a: General Chemistry; or
  • Co-register in CHEM-050: General Chemistry Tutorial, as a required supplement to their registration in CHEM-105a: General Chemistry; or
  • Register for CHEM-105a: General Chemistry without additional stipulations.

Recommended review materials and additional Chemistry 105a course information can be found on the Chem 105a course website.

Chemistry Placement Exam Repetition Policy

The policy on exam repetition for incoming students is as follows:

  1. Online exam (as part of Pre-Orientation Checklist; only for incoming students)
  2. Paper and pencil exam during Welcome Week
  3. After six (6) months

The policy on exam repetition for continuing students is as follows:

  1. First administration of paper and pencil exam
  2. After six (6) months

For Chemistry, the test administration can take up to one hour, so please plan accordingly.

  • Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the start of the test.
  • Students with disabilities who are not yet registered with USC Disability Services and Programs should contact their office at to make arrangements for testing accommodations at least two weeks prior to the scheduled placement exam date.

For Dates & Locations, click here.


  • Chemistry placement results expire after nine (9) months.
  • If, within nine months, a student does not enroll in the Chemistry course s/he placed into, s/he must take the Chemistry placement exam again before s/he is allowed to register for ANY Chemistry class.
  • In addition to taking the Chemistry placement exam, students who wish to enroll in CHEM 105a: General Chemistry must also either (1) take the Math placement exam, or (2) have proof of completion of a college-level Math class (e.g., algebra, precalculus, or calculus).  AP Calculus AB or BC credit is not accepted in lieu of the Math placement exam or the college-level Math class.