Illinois Requirements for Passing High School Chemistry | General Chemistry 1

Is Chemistry Required in High School in Illinois?

Illinois requires high school students to complete 2 years of science courses. Typically, science topics include many concepts associated with chemistry as Illinois has adopted the NGSS curriculum model. However, there is no stipulation that the courses require a laboratory component, which is often required by many of the state’s post-secondary institutions. 

Until recently, the SATs included a chemistry subject test. However, effective 2021, SAT Chemistry Subject Tests are no longer offered or required in the United States. As a result, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, students are required to take the following tests in order to graduate:

  • Grade 9 — PSAT 8/9*
  • Grade 10 — PSAT 10*
  • Grade 11 — SAT 11*
  • Some students in Grade 12 — SAT 12*

*Some students may take the DLM-AA, instead.

High school students in Illinois will likely encounter the following chemistry topics in their high school science classes:


HS-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

  • HS-PS1-1 - Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.  [Clarification Statement:  Examples of properties that could be predicted from patterns could include reactivity of metals, types of bonds formed, numbers of bonds formed, and reactions with oxygen.]
  • HS-PS1-2 - Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.[Clarification Statement:  Examples of chemical reactions could include the reaction of sodium and chlorine, of carbon and oxygen, or of carbon and hydrogen.]
  • HS-PS1-3 - Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles. [Clarification Statement:  Emphasis is on understanding the strengths of forces between particles, not on naming specific intermolecular forces (such as dipole-dipole). Examples of particles could include ions, atoms, molecules, and networked materials (such as graphite). Examples of bulk properties of substances could include the melting point and boiling point, vapor pressure, and surface tension.]
  • HS-PS1-4 - Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that a chemical reaction is a system that affects the energy change. Examples of models could include molecular-level drawings and diagrams of reactions, graphs showing the relative energies of reactants and products, and representations showing energy is conserved.]
  • HS-PS1-5 - Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on student reasoning that focuses on the number and energy of collisions between molecules.]
  • HS-PS1-6 - Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.*  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the application of Le Chatelier’s Principle and on refining designs of chemical reaction systems, including descriptions of the connection between changes made at the macroscopic level and what happens at the molecular level. Examples of designs could include different ways to increase product formation including adding reactants or removing products.]
  • HS-PS1-7 - Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical ideas to communicate the proportional relationships between masses of atoms in the reactants and the products, and the translation of these relationships to the macroscopic scale using the mole as the conversion from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem-solving techniques.]
  • HS-PS1-8 - Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on simple qualitative models, such as pictures or diagrams, and on the scale of energy released in nuclear processes relative to other kinds of transformations.] 


HS-PS2 Motion and Stability:  Forces and Interactions

  • HS-PS2-1 - Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration. [Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include tables or graphs of position or velocity as a function of time for objects subject to a net unbalanced force, such as a falling object, an object sliding down a ramp, or a moving object being pulled by a constant force.]
  • HS-PS2-2 - Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the quantitative conservation of momentum in interactions and the qualitative meaning of this principle.]
  • HS-PS2-3 - Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of evaluation and refinement could include determining the success of the device at protecting an object from damage and modifying the design to improve it. Examples of a device could include a football helmet or a parachute.]
  • HS-PS2-4 - Use mathematical representations of Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Coulomb’s Law to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both quantitative and conceptual descriptions of gravitational and electric fields.] 
  • HS-PS2-5 - Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
  • HS-PS2-6 - Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.*  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the attractive and repulsive forces that determine the functioning of the material. Examples could include why electrically conductive materials are often made of metal, flexible but durable materials are made up of long-chained molecules, and pharmaceuticals are designed to interact with specific receptors.] 


Does Illinois Award Credit for Passing the AP Chemistry Exam?

There is no state mandate that secondary or post-secondary institutions offer credit for AP Chemistry or other advanced courses. However, many of them accept AP Chemistry results of 3 or above and apply the credit to their respective courses. To find out whether a school accepts AP scores, it is best to contact it directly. 

It is important to note that because some high schools may not use a science curriculum that includes a laboratory component, the University of Illinois offers a Chemistry Proficiency Exam. However, the exam does not award credit for college courses. Some of the topics covered in the exam may include:

Chem 102

  • Atomic Structure
  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Bohr Model of the atom
  • Quantum Mechanical Model of the atom
  • Chemical bonds
  • Lewis Structures, octet rule and exceptions, resonance and formal charge
  • VSEPR model
  • Lewis structures of organic molecules
  • Hybridization model
  • Intermolecular Forces and Physical Properties
  • Stoichiometry
  • Electrolytes and Precipitation reactions
  • Gases Laws and properties of ideal and non-ideal gases
  • Bond Energy
  • Lattice Energy
  • Chemical Equilibrium
  • Solubility Equilibria
  • Acid-Base Reactions
  • Thermodynamics
  • Redox Reactions
  • Electrochemistry 


Chem 104

  • Thermodynamics
  • Kinetics
  • Electrochemistry
  • Organic chemistry
    • alkanes, carboxylic acids, alkenes, alkynes, chemistry of benzene, esters, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, cycloalkanes, alkyl halides
  • Organic chemistry
  • Intermolecular Forces and Physical Properties
  • Chemical Equilibrium
  • Acid-Base Equilibria
  • Acid-Base Properties of Salts
  • Titrations
  • Amino acids
  • Hybridization model
  • MO Model
  • Chemical bonds
  • Stoichiometry
  • Redox Reactions